Child Behavior Checklist Scores for School-Aged Children with Autism: Preliminary Evidence of Patterns Suggesting the Need for Referral

  • Carla A. MazefskyEmail author
  • Ranita Anderson
  • Caitlin M. Conner
  • Nancy Minshew


The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) is a widely used questionnaire to assess behavioral and emotional problems. It is often used as a diagnostic screener, but autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are not included in the CBCL for school-aged children. This study investigated patterns of CBCL scores in 108 children with high-functioning ASD from two independent samples, and 67 IQ- and age-matched controls. Scores on the CBCL Thought and Social Problems scales significantly differentiated children with ASD from controls. Both independent ASD samples had the same pattern of elevations, with mean scores over two standard deviations above the mean for Social, Thought, and Attention Problems. The Withdrawn/Depressed scale was elevated to at least the borderline clinical range for half of the ASD sample. This pattern of elevations is consistent with two prior studies of the CBCL with school-aged children with ASD, and therefore may warrant follow-up assessment to rule out an ASD.


Child behavior checklist Autism Asperger’s disorder Diagnostic screening 



The authors are grateful to the participants and their families for their commitment to this research. This manuscript was supported in part by NINDS NS33355 (PI Minshew) and NICHD U19HD35469 (PI Minshew), which is part of the NICHD/NIDCD Collaborative Programs for Excellence in Autism (CPEA).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla A. Mazefsky
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ranita Anderson
    • 2
  • Caitlin M. Conner
    • 1
  • Nancy Minshew
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Speech and HearingOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Psychiatry and NeurologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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