Psychometric Properties of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale: Parent Report in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

Although anxiety is frequently reported in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), existing anxiety scales are often psychometrically inappropriate for this population. This study examined the internal structure, reliability, convergent and discriminant validity of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale-Parent Report (SCAS-P; Spence 1999) in 238 school-aged children with ASD. While confirmatory factor analysis did not support the original six-correlated-factor structure, structural support as well as acceptable internal consistency and convergent validity was found for Generalized Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, Panic, and Agoraphobia subscales. Use of the SCAS-P in its original form for assessment in children with ASD was not supported. However, four subscales showed viability, and may benefit re-analyses of existing SCAS-P data and future scale adaptations for research and clinical purposes.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank all of the children and families who participated in the Pathways in ASD study. This study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, NeuroDevNet, Autism Speaks, the Government of British Columbia, the Alberta Innovates Health Solutions, the Sinneave Family Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Author Contributions

KJ led the design of the study, statistical analyses, interpretation, drafting and revisions of the manuscript. BZ oversaw the study design, statistical analyses and interpretation, and contributed to the drafting and revision of the manuscript. PM contributed to the study design, and made substantial contributions to the drafting of the manuscript and revisions. LF contributed the study design and the drafting of the manuscript. TB, SG, CW, IS, JV, ED, LZ, PS, TV and ME conceived the study, contributed to coordination of data collection, and critical revisions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Jitlina, K., Zumbo, B., Mirenda, P. et al. Psychometric Properties of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale: Parent Report in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 47, 3847–3856 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3110-8

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Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Measurement
  • Validity
  • Factor analysis
  • Parent-report