Reference Work Entry

Comprehensive Guide to Autism

pp 2787-2798

Autistic Behavior Checklist (ABC) and Its Applications

  • Antonio Bravo OroAffiliated withDepartamento de Neuropediatría, Hospital Central Dr. Ignacio Morones Prieto Email author 
  • , María Elena Navarro-CalvilloAffiliated withDepartment of Postgrado, Universidad Autónoma de San Luís Potosí
  • , Carmen EsmerAffiliated withDepartment of Neurogenetics, Hospital Central Dr. Ignacio Morones Prieto


Numerous autism rating scales have been developed during the past 25 years to be applied as a diagnostic tool, to evaluate the severity of symptoms, to monitor interventions, or to assess outcomes. The test usually evaluates the mental higher functions, to have a better understanding of the individualities of each kid and to give more options to treat in concordance with its needs and skills. The aim of this chapter was to analyze the Autism Behavior Checklist (ABC) as a tool for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The ABC is a list of 57 questions about a child’s behavior, designed to be answered independently by a parent, teacher, or caregiver; a trained professional scores and analyzes the results. The items are easy to apply with a high prediction about the disorder; thus its main utility is to assure the autism diagnosis since many other neurodevelopment problems such as learning or lenguaje disorders; and obsessive-compulsive disorders or attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, among others, need to be discarded. Many of the autistic symptoms can only be measured through the report of parents about conduct in different areas and situations after that it is possible to identify the developmental areas that must be evaluated deeper. The ABC has questions grouped into five subscales: S ensory, Relating, Body and Object Use, Language, and Social and Self-Help skills. The items are mostly scored from 1 to 4 according to the impairment degree. Our unpublished experience in 30 patients with autism, Asperger, mental retardation, and obsessive disorders demonstrates its simple use, scoring, and low cost. We found that other scales, like ADI-R or CHAT, require more guidance to the parents to obtain trustily responses in specific difficult items. The ABC has more than 30 years in use, and it is still considered one of the most useful tools to the rapid evaluation of autism in early childhood.