Assessing Students with Autism: Considerations and Recommendations
Approximately 9% of students receiving special education services in the United States are identified with autism. Given the increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD; see below) and the emphasis in the 2014 Standards (AERA, APA, NCME) for evaluating fairness, attending to universal design, and ensuring accessibility of tests for all groups, it is imperative test developers ensure standardized achievement tests yield results that are valid for these students. This chapter includes a discussion of the characteristics of ASD with a focus on strategies to reduce the effects of test anxiety for this population, followed by an overview of applied behavior analysis and the relevance of behaviorism to the treatment of ASD. Several behavioral strategies are presented, and their putative impacts on the assessment milieu are examined. Finally, the author proposes several guidelines for approaching test design and implementation for individuals with ASD to ensure the validity of inferences from their test results.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder ASD Autism Testing Assessment Achievement testing Test anxiety Test validity
- Cassady, J. M. (2011). Teachers’ attitudes toward the inclusion of students with autism and emotional behavioral disorder. Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education, 2, 5.Google Scholar
- Chadwick, D., Tindall-Ford, S. K., Agostinho, S., & Paas, F. (2015). Using cognitive load compliant instructions to support working memory for anxious students. 8th Cognitive Load Theory Conference (p. 32).Google Scholar
- Christensen, D. L., Baio, J., Braun, K. V., et al. (2016). Prevalence and characteristics of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years — Autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 Sites, United States, 2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summary, 65, 1–23.Google Scholar
- Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
- Dykens, E. M., & Lense, M. (2011). Intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders: A cautionary note. In D. Amaral, G. Dawson, & D. Geschwind (Eds.), Autism spectrum disorders (pp. 261–269). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Every Student Succeeds Act. (2017). Pub. L. No. 115–64. Retrieved from https://legcounsel.house.gov/Comps/Elementary%20And%20Secondary%20Education%20Act%20Of%201965.pdf.
- Gottschalk, J. M., Libby, M. E., & Graff, R. B. (2000). The effects of establishing operations on preference assessment outcomes. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 33, 85–88.Google Scholar
- Lovaas, O. I. (1977). The autistic child. New York, NY: Irvington.Google Scholar
- Lee, D. L., Lylo, B., Vostal, B., & Hua, Y. (2012). The effects of high-preference problems on the completion of nonpreferred mathematics problems. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 45, 223–228. https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.2012.45-223.
- Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science and human behavior. New York, NY: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Skinner, B. F. (1974). About behaviorism. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
- Wong, C., Odom, S. L., Hume, K., Cox, A. W., Fettig, A., Kucharczyk, S., … Schultz, T. R. (2014). Evidence-based practices for children, youth, and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina/Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute/Autism Evidence-Based Practice Review Group.Google Scholar
- White, S. W., Oswald, D., Ollendick, T., & Scahill, L. (2009). Anxiety in children and adolescents with autismspectrum disorders. Clinical Psychology Review, 29(3), 216–229.Google Scholar
- Wolf, M., Risley, T., & Mees, H. (1963). Application of operant conditioning procedures to the behaviour problems of an autistic child. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 1, 305–312.Google Scholar