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New book by
Mitzi Waltz,
Autistic Spectrum Disorders:

Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Other books by Mitzi Waltz:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Bipolar Disorders

Adult Bipolar Disorders

Tourette's Syndrome

Autism Center

Diagnostic Tools

The following excerpt is taken from Appendix G of Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Finding a Diagnosis and Getting Help by Mitzi Waltz, copyright 2002 by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. For book orders/information, call (800) 998-9938. Permission is granted to print and distribute this excerpt for noncommercial use as long as the above source is included. The information in this article is meant to educate and should not be used as an alternative for professional medical care.

For those readers who need to know more about the symptoms of autistic spectrum disorders and how these disorders are diagnosed and differentiated, this resource includes two helpful tools:

Form E-2 is a questionnaire for parents of autistic-spectrum children. It was developed by Dr. Bernard Rimland, director of the Autism Research Institute. It's important to understand that Form E-2 is not a diagnostic tool per se. Its purpose is to build a large, detailed database on autism-related symptoms and behaviors. By copying this checklist, filling it out, and mailing it to ARI, you will be assisting with the longest-running research project on the topic of ASDs. Dr. Rimland hopes that your answers will help researchers differentiate between disorders--many of them as yet unnamed and unknown--that fall along the autistic spectrum. By identifying sub-types that go beyond such general categories as "PDD-NOS," "Atypical PDD," or "High Functioning Autism," researchers may be able to suggest more appropriate treatments for people with ASDs. As of this writing, ARI's database includes information about over 25,000 cases of autism and autism-like conditions in more than 40 countries.

Form E-2 is also available directly from ARI in French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Hebrew, Japanese, Turkish, and Serbo-Croatian.

Completing Form E-2 offers a benefit to you as well as to autism researchers. ARI will send you a brief report explaining what your answers seem to say about your child, including a computerized "score." There is no charge for this service. This report may give you valuable information, but it's not a diagnosis. Form E-2 should not be used to self-diagnose PDDs, nor to permit or deny entrance to programs or services for people with PDDs.

Please send your copied and completed Form E-2 to:

Autism Research Institute
4182 Adams Ave.
San Diego, Calif. 92116
Fax (619) 563-6840

Diagnostic Checklist for Behavior-Disturbed Children (Form E-2)

Has this child been diagnosed before?

If so, what was the diagnosis?

Diagnosed by:


Instructions: You are being asked to fill out this questionnaire concerning your child in order to provide research information which will be helpful in learning more about the causes and types of behavior disturbances in children. Please pick the one answer you think is most accurate for each question. If you want to comment or add something about a question, add it right next to the question, if there is room. Or circle the number of the question, copy the number on the back of the questionnaire and write your comment there. Your additional comments are welcome, but even if you do add comments, please mark the printed question as well as you can. Remember, pick just one answer, and mark it with an "X," for each question.

It would be helpful if, on a separate sheet, you would write in any information about the child and his sisters or brothers which you think may be significant. (For example: Twins, living or dead; Behavior problems; IQ scores, if known).


1. Present age of child:

  • 1. Under 3 years old
  • 2. Between 3 and 4 years old
  • 3. Between 4 and 5 years old
  • 4. *Between 5 and 6 years old
  • 5. *Over 6 years old (Age:____ years)

*Note: This Checklist is designed primarily for children 3 to 5 years old. If child is over 5, answer as well as you can by recall of the child's behavior.

2. Indicate child's sex:

  • 1. Boy
  • 2. Girl

3. Indicate child's birth order and number of mother's other children:

  • 1. Child is an only child
  • 2. Child is first born of ____ children
  • 3. Child is last born of ____ children
  • 4. Child is middle born;____ children are older
    and ____ are younger than this child.
  • 5. Foster child, or don't know

4. Were pregnancy and delivery normal?

  • 1. Pregnancy and delivery both normal
  • 2. Problems during both pregnancy and delivery
  • 3. Pregnancy troubled; routine delivery
  • 4. Pregnancy untroubled; problems during delivery
  • 5. Don't know

5. Was the birth premature (birth weight under 5 lbs)?

  • 1. Yes (about ____weeks early; ____ lbs)
  • 2. No
  • 3. Don't know

6. Was the child given oxygen in the first week?

  • 1. Yes
  • 2. No
  • 3. Don't know

7. Appearance of child during first few weeks after birth:

  • 1. Pale, delicate looking
  • 2. Unusually healthy looking
  • 3. Average, don't know, or other

8. Unusual conditions of birth and infancy (check only one number in left-hand column):

  • 1.Unusual conditions

Indicate which: blindness___ cerebral palsy___ birth injury___
seizures___ blue baby___ very high fever___ jaundice___ other___
  • 2. Twin birth (identical ____ fraternal ____)
  • 3. Both 1 and 2
  • 4. Normal, or don't know

9. Concerning baby's health in first 3 months:

  • 1. Excellent health, no problems
  • 2. Respiration (frequent infections ____ other ____)
  • 3. Skin (rashes ____ infection ____ allergy ____ other ____)
  • 4. Feeding (learning to suck ____ colic ____ vomiting ____ other ____)
  • 5. Elimination (diarrhea ____ constipation ____ other ____)
  • 6. Several of above (indicate which: 2 ____ 3 ____ 4 ____ 5 ____)

10. Has the child been given an electroencephalogram (EEG)?

  • 1. Yes, it was considered normal
  • 2. Yes, it was considered borderline
  • 3. Yes, it was considered abnormal
  • 4. No, or don't know, or don't know results

11. In the first year, did the child react to bright lights, bright colors, unusual sounds, etc.?

  • 1. Unusually strong reaction (pleasure ____ dislike ____ )
  • 2. Unusually unresponsive
  • 3. Average, or don't know

12. Did the child behave normally for a time before his abnormal behavior began?

  • 1. Never was a period of normal behavior
  • 2. Normal during first 6 months
  • 3. Normal during first year
  • 4. Normal during first 1 1/2 years
  • 5. Normal during first 2 years
  • 6. Normal during first 3 years
  • 7. Normal during first 4-5 years

13. (Age 4-8 months) Did the child reach out or prepare himself to be picked up when mother approached him?

  • 1. Yes, or I believe so
  • 2. No, I don't think he did
  • 3. No, definitely not
  • 4. Don't know

14. Did the child rock in his crib as a baby?

  • 1. Yes, quite a lot
  • 2. Yes, sometimes
  • 3. No, or very little
  • 4. Don't know

15. At what age did the child learn to walk alone?

  • 1. 8-12 months
  • 2. 13-15 months
  • 3. 16-18 months
  • 4. 19-24 months
  • 5. 25-36 months
  • 6. 37 months or later, or does not walk alone

16. Which describes the change from crawling to walking?

  • 1. Normal change from crawling to walking
  • 2. Little or no crawling, gradual start of walking
  • 3. Little or no crawling, sudden start of walking
  • 4. Prolonged crawling, sudden start of walking
  • 5. Prolonged crawling, gradual start of walking
  • 6. Other, or don't know

17. During the child's first year, did he seem to be unusually intelligent?

  • 1. Suspected high intelligence
  • 2. Suspected average intelligence
  • 3. Child looked somewhat dull

18. During the child's first 2 years, did he like to be held?

  • 1. Liked being picked up; enjoyed being held
  • 2. Limp and passive on being held
  • 3. You could pick child up and hold it only when and how it preferred
  • 4. Notably stiff and awkward to hold
  • 5. Don't know

19. Before age 3, did the child ever imitate another person?

  • 1. Yes, waved bye-bye
  • 2. Yes, played pat-a-cake
  • 3. Yes, other ( ___________________________ )
  • 4. Two or more of above (which? 1____2____3____ )
  • 5. No, or not sure

20. Before age 3, did the child have an unusually good memory?

  • 1. Remarkable memory for songs, rhymes, TV commercials, etc., in words
  • 2. Remarkable memory for songs, music (humming only)
  • 3. Remarkable memory for names, places, routes, etc.
  • 4. No evidence for remarkable memory
  • 5. Apparently rather poor memory
  • 6. Both 1 and 3
  • 7. Both 2 and 3

21. Did you ever suspect the child was very nearly deaf?

  • 1. Yes
  • 2. No

22. (Age 2-4) Is child "deaf" to some sounds but hears others?

  • 1. Yes, can be "deaf" to loud sounds, but hear low ones
  • 2. No, this is not true of him

23. (Age 2-4) Does child hold his hands in strange postures?

  • 1. Yes, sometimes or often
  • 2. No

24. (Age 2-4) Does child engage in rhythmic or rocking activity for very long periods of time (like on rocking-horse or chair, jumpchair, swing, etc.)?

  • 1. Yes, this is typical
  • 2. Seldom does this
  • 3. Not true of him

25. (Age 2-4) Does child ever "look through" or "walk through" people, as though they weren't there?

  • 1. Yes, often
  • 2. Yes, I think so
  • 3. No, doesn't do this

26. (Age 2-5) Does child have any unusual cravings for things to eat or chew on?

  • 1. Yes, salt or salty foods
  • 2. Yes, often chews metal objects
  • 3. Yes, other ( _________________________ )
  • 4. Yes, more than 2 above (which? __________________________ )
  • 5. No, or not sure

27. (Age 2-4) Does child have certain eating oddities, such as refusing to drink from a transparent container, eating only hot (or cold) food, eating only one or two foods, etc.?

  • 1. Yes, definitely
  • 2. No, or not to any marked degree
  • 3. Don't know

28. Would you describe your child around 3 or 4 as often seeming "in a shell," or so distant and "lost in thought" that you couldn't reach him?

  • 1. Yes, this is a very accurate description
  • 2. Once in a while he might possibly be like that
  • 3. Not an accurate description

29. (Age 2-5) Is he cuddly?

  • 1. Definitely, likes to cling to adults
  • 2. Above average (likes to be held)
  • 3. No, rather stiff and awkward to hold
  • 4. Don't know

30. (Age 3-5) Does the child deliberately hit his own head?

  • 1. Never, or rarely
  • 2. Yes, usually by slapping it with his hand
  • 3. Yes, usually by banging it against someone else's legs or head
  • 4. Yes, usually by hitting walls, floor, furniture, etc.
  • 5. Several of above (which? 2____3____4____ )

31. (Age 3-5) How well physically coordinated is the child (running, walking, balancing, climbing)?

  • 1. Unusually graceful
  • 2. About average
  • 3. Somewhat below average, or poor

32. (Age 3-5) Does the child sometimes whirl himself like a top?

  • 1. Yes, does this often
  • 2. Yes, sometimes
  • 3. Yes, if you start him out
  • 4. No, he shows no tendency to whirl

33. (Age 3-5) How skillful is the child in doing fine work with this fingers or playing with small objects?

  • 1. Exceptionally skillful
  • 2. Average for age
  • 3. A little awkward, or very awkward
  • 4. Don't know

34. (Age 3-5) Does the child like to spin things like jar lids, coins, or coasters?

  • 1. Yes, often and for rather long periods
  • 2. Very seldom, or never

35. (Age 3-5) Does child show an unusual degree of skill (much better than normal child his age) at any of the following:

  • 1. Assembling jigsaw or similar puzzles
  • 2. Arithmetic computation
  • 3. Can tell day of week a certain date will fall on
  • 4. Perfect musical pitch
  • 5. Throwing and/or catching a ball
  • 6. Other ( _______________________________ )
  • 7. More than one of above (which? ____________________________ )
  • 8. No unusual skill, or not sure

36. (Age 3-5) Does the child sometimes jump up and down gleefully when pleased?

  • 1. Yes, this is typical
  • 2. No, or rarely

37. (Age 3-5) Does child sometimes line things up in precise evenly-spaced rows and insist they not be disturbed?

  • 1. No
  • 2. Yes
  • 3. Not sure

38. (Age 3-5) Does the child refuse to use his hands for an extended period of time?

  • 1. Yes
  • 2. No

39. Was there a time before age 5 when the child strongly insisted on listening to music on records?

  • 1. Yes, insisted on only certain records
  • 2. Yes, but almost any record would do
  • 3. Liked to listen, but didn't demand to
  • 4. No special interest in records

40. (Age 3-5) How interested is the child in mechanical objects such as the stove or vacuum cleaner?

  • 1. Little or no interest
  • 2. Average interest
  • 3. Fascinated by certain mechanical things

41. (Age 3-5) How does the child usually react to being interrupted in what he is doing?

  • 1. Rarely or never gets upset
  • 2. Sometimes gets mildly upset; rarely very upset
  • 3. Typically gets very upset

42. (Age 3-5) Will the child readily accept new articles of clothing (shoes, coats, etc.)?

  • 1. Usually resists new clothes
  • 2. Doesn't seem to mind, or enjoys them

43. (Age 3-5) Is child upset by certain things that are not "right" (like crack in the wall, spot on rug, books leaning in bookcase, broken rung on chair, pipe held and not smoked)?

  • 1. Not especially
  • 2. Yes, such things upset him greatly
  • 3. Not sure

44. (Age 3-5) Does child adopt complicated "rituals" which make him very upset if not followed (like putting many dolls to bed in a certain order, taking exactly the same route between two places, dressing according to a precise pattern, or insisting that only certain words be used in a given situation)?

  • 1. Yes, definitely
  • 2. Not sure
  • 3. No

45. (Age 3-5) Does child get very upset if certain things he is used to are changed (like furniture or toy arrangement, or certain doors which must be left open or shut)?

  • 1. No
  • 2. Yes, definitely
  • 3. Slightly true

46. (Age 3-5) Is the child destructive?

  • 1. Yes, this is definitely a problem
  • 2. Not deliberately or severely destructive
  • 3. Not especially destructive

47. (Age 3-5) Is the child unusually physically pliable (can be led easily; melts into your arms)?

  • 1. Yes
  • 2. Seems normal in this way
  • 3. Definitely not pliable

48. (Age 3-5) Which single description, or combination of two descriptions, best characterizes the child?

  • 1. Hyperactive, constantly moving, changes quickly from one thing to another
  • 2. Watches television quietly for long periods
  • 3. Sits for long periods, staring into space, or playing repetitively with objects, without apparent purpose
  • 4. Combination of 1 and 2
  • 5. Combination of 2 and 3
  • 6. Combination of 1 and 3

49. (Age 3-5) Does the child seem to want to be liked?

  • 1. Yes, unusually so
  • 2. Just normally so
  • 3. Indifferent to being liked; happiest when left alone

50. (Age 3-5) Is child sensitive and/or affectionate?

  • 1. Is sensitive to criticism and affectionate
  • 2. Is sensitive to criticism, not affectionate
  • 3. Not sensitive to criticism, is affectionate
  • 4. Not sensitive to criticism nor affectionate

51. (Age 3-5) Is it possible to direct child's attention to an object some distance away or out a window?

  • 1. Yes, no special problem
  • 2. He rarely sees things very far out of reach
  • 3. He examines things with fingers and mouth only

52. (Age 3-5) Do people consider the child especially attractive?

  • 1. Yes, very good-looking child
  • 2. No, just average
  • 3. Faulty in physical appearance

53. (Age 3-5) Does the child look up at people (meet their eyes) when they are talking to him?

  • 1. Never, or rarely
  • 2. Only with parents
  • 3. Usually does

54. (Age 3-5) Does the child take an adult by the wrist to use adult's hand (to open door, get cookies, turn on TV, etc.)?

  • 1. Yes, this is typical
  • 2. Perhaps, or rarely
  • 3. No

55. (Age 3-5) Which set of terms best describes the child?

  • 1. Confused, self-concerned, perplexed, dependent, worried
  • 2. Aloof, indifferent, self-contented, remote

56. (Age 3-5) Is the child extremely fearful?

  • 1. Yes, of strangers or certain people
  • 2. Yes, of certain animals, noises or objects
  • 3. Yes, of 1 and 2 above
  • 4. Only normal fearfulness
  • 5. Seems unusually bold and free of fear
  • 6. Child ignores or is unaware of fearsome objects

57. (Age 3-5) Does he fall or get hurt in running or climbing?

  • 1. Tends toward falling or injury
  • 2. Average in this way
  • 3. Never, or almost never, exposes self to falling
  • 4. Surprisingly safe despite active climbing, swimming, etc.

58. (Age 3-5) Is there a problem in that the child hits, pinches, bites or otherwise injures himself or others?

  • 1. Yes, self only
  • 2. Yes, others only
  • 3. Yes, self and others
  • 4. No (not a problem)

59. At what age did the child say his first words (even if later stopped talking)?

  • 1. Has never used words
  • 2. 8-12 months
  • 3. 13-15 months
  • 4. 16-24 months
  • 5. 2 years-3 years
  • 6. 3 years-4 years
  • 7. After 4 years old
  • 8. Don't know

59a. On lines below list child's first six words (as well as you can remember them)



60. (Before age 5) Did the child start to talk, then become silent again for a week or more?

  • 1. Yes, but later talked again (age stopped____
    duration____ )
  • 2. Yes, but never started again (age stopped____ )
  • 3. No, continued to talk, or never began talking

61. (Before age 5) Did the child start to talk, then stop, and begin to whisper instead, for a week or more?

  • 1. Yes, but later talked again (age stopped____
    duration____ )
  • 2. Yes, still only whispers (age stopped talking ____ )
  • 3. Now doesn't even whisper (stopped talking ____
    stopped whispering ____ )
  • 4. No, continued to talk, or never began talking

62. (Age 1-5) How well could the child pronounce his first words when learning to speak, and how well could he pronounce difficult words between 3 and 5?

  • 1. Too little speech to tell, or other answer
  • 2. Average or below average pronunciation of first words ("wabbit," etc.), and also poor at 3 to 5
  • 3. Average or below on first words, unusually good at 3-5
  • 4. Unusually good on first words, average or below at 3-5
  • 5. Unusually good on first words, and also at 3-5

63. (Age 3-5) Is the child's vocabulary (the number of things he can name or point to accurately) greatly out of proportion to his ability to "communicate" (to answer questions or tell you something)?

  • 1. He can point to many objects I name, but doesn't speak or "communicate."
  • 2. He can accurately name many objects, but not "communicate"
  • 3. Ability to "communicate" is pretty good--about what you would expect from the number of words he knows
  • 4. Doesn't use or understand words

64. When the child spoke his first sentences, did he surprise you by using words he had not used individually before?

  • 1. Yes (Any examples? _________________________ )
  • 2. No
  • 3. Not sure
  • 4. Too little speech to tell

65. How did child refer to himself on first learning to talk?

  • 1. "(John) fall down," or "Baby (or Boy) fall down."
  • 2. "Me fall down," or "I fall down"
  • 3. "(He, Him, She, or Her) fall down"
  • 4. "You fall down"
  • 5. Any combination of 1, 2, and/or 3
  • 6. No speech or too little speech as yet

66. (Age 3-5) Does child repeat phrases or sentences that he has heard in the past (maybe using a hollow, parrot-like voice), what is said having little or no relation to the situation?

  • 1. Yes, definitely, except voice not hollow or parrot-like
  • 2. Yes, definitely, including peculiar voice tone
  • 3. Not sure
  • 4. No
  • 5. Too little speech to tell

67. (Before age 5) Can the child answer a simple question like "What is your first name?" or "Why did Mommy spank Billy?"

  • 1. Yes, can answer such questions adequately
  • 2. No, uses speech, but can't answer questions
  • 3. Too little speech to tell

68. (Before age 5) Can the child understand what you say to him, judging from his ability to follow instructions or answer you?

  • 1. Yes, understands very well
  • 2. Yes, understands fairly well
  • 3. Understands a little, if you repeat and repeat
  • 4. Very little or no understanding

69. (Before age 5) If the child talks, do you feel he understands what he is saying?

  • 1. Doesn't talk enough to tell
  • 2. No, he is just repeating what he has heard with hardly any understanding
  • 3. Not just repeating--he understands what he is saying, but not well
  • 4. No doubt that he understands what he is saying

70. (Before age 5) Has the child used the word "Yes?"

  • 1. Has used "Yes" fairly often and correctly
  • 2. Seldom has used "Yes," but has used it
  • 3. Has used sentences, but hasn't used word "Yes"
  • 4. Has used a number of other words or phrases, but hasn't used word "Yes"
  • 5. Has no speech, or too little speech to tell

71. (Age 3-5) Does the child typically say "yes" by repeating the same question he has been asked? (Example: You ask "Shall we go for a walk, Honey?" and he indicates he does want to go by saying "Shall we go for a walk, Honey" or "Shall we go for a walk?")

  • 1. Yes, definitely, does not say "Yes" directly
  • 2. No, would say "Yes" or "OK" or similar answer
  • 3. Not sure
  • 4. Too little speech to say

72. (Before age 5) Has the child asked for something by using the same sentence you would use when you offer it to him? (Example: The child wants milk, so he says: "Do you want some milk?" or "You want some milk")

  • 1. Yes, definitely (uses "You" instead of "I")
  • 2. No, would ask differently
  • 3. Not sure
  • 4. Not enough speech to tell

73. (Before age 5) Has the child used the word "I?"

  • 1. Has used "I" fairly often and correctly
  • 2. Seldom has used "I," but has used it correctly
  • 3. Has used sentences, but hasn't used the word "I"
  • 4. Has used a number of words or phrases, but hasn't used the word "I"
  • 5. Has used "I," but only where the word "you" belonged
  • 6. Has no speech, or too little speech to tell

74. (Before age 5) How does the child usually say "No" or refuse something?

  • 1. He would just say "No"
  • 2. He would ignore you
  • 3. He would grunt and wave his arms
  • 4. He would use some rigid meaningful phrase (like "Don't want it!" or "No milk!" or "No walk!")
  • 5. Would use phrase having only private meaning like "Daddy go in car"
  • 6. Other, or too little speech to tell

75. (Before age 5) Has the child used one word or idea as a substitute for another, for a prolonged time? (Example: always says "catsup" to mean "red," or uses "penny" for "drawer" after seeing pennies in a desk drawer)

  • 1. Yes, definitely
  • 2. No
  • 3. Not sure
  • 4. Too little speech to tell

76. Knowing what you do now, at what age do you think you could have first detected the child's abnormal behavior? That is, when did detectable abnormal behavior actually begin? (Under "A," indicate when you might have; under "B" when you did.)




1.   In first 3 months



2.   4-6 months



3.   7-12 months



4.   13-24 months



5.   2 years-3 years



6.   3 years-4 years



7.   After 4th year



77. & 78 Parents' highest educational level

77. (Father)

78. (Mother)




1. Did not graduate high school



2. High school graduate



3. Post high school tech. training



4. Some college



5. College graduate



6. Some graduate work



7. Graduate degree ( ________ )

79. Indicate the child's nearest blood relatives, including parents, who have been in a mental hospital or who were known to have been seriously mentally ill or retarded. Consider parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts.

If none, check here: ____


Diagnosis, if known (Schizophrenia,
Depressive, Other)

1. __________


2. __________


3. __________


4. __________


5. __________


Form E2, Part 2

Please answer the following questions by writing "1" if Very True, "2" if True and "3" if False on the line preceding the question. Except for the first two questions, which pertain to the child before age 2, answer "Very True" (1) or "True" (2) if the statement described the child any time before his 10th birthday. If the statement is not particularly true of the child before age 10, answer "False" (3). Remember: 1 = Very True, 2 = True, 3 = False.

80. ______Before age 2, arched back and bent head back, when held

81. ______Before age 2, struggled against being held

82. ______Abnormal craving for certain foods

83. ______Eats unusually large amounts of food

84. ______Covers ears at many sounds

85. ______Only certain sounds seem painful to him

86. ______Fails to blink at bright lights

87. ______ Skin color lighter or darker than others in family (which: lighter______ darker______ )

88. ______Prefers inanimate (nonliving) things

89. ______Avoids people

90. ______Insists on keeping certain object with him

91. ______Always frightened or very anxious

92. ______Inconsolable crying

93. ______Notices changes or imperfections and tries to correct them

94. ______Tidy (neat, avoids messy things)

95. ______Has collected a particular thing (toy horses, bits of glass, etc.)

96. ______After delay, repeats phrases he has heard

97. ______After delay, repeats whole sentences he has heard

98. ______Repeats questions or conversations he has heard, over and over, without variation

99. ______Gets "hooked" or fixated on one topic (like cars, maps, death)

100. _____Examines surfaces with fingers

101. _____Holds bizarre pose or posture

102. _____Chews or swallows nonfood objects

103. _____Dislikes being touched or held

104. _____Intensely aware of odors

105. _____Hides skill or knowledge, so you are surprised later on

106. _____Seems not to feel pain

107. _____Terrified at unusual happenings

108. _____Learned words useless to himself

109. _____Learned certain words, then stopped using them

Please supply any additional information that you think may lead to understanding the cause or diagnosis of the child's illness.

CARS: Childhood Autism Rating Scale (sample)

The following items are a sample of the questions found on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (Eric Schopler, Robert Reichler, MD, and Barbara Rochen Renner, Western Psychological Services, Los Angeles: 1993), also known as the CARS. This instrument is often used to evaluate young children who may have autistic spectrum disorders.

Evaluators using the CARS rate the child on a scale from 1 to 4 in each of 15 areas.

Relating to People


No evidence of difficulty or abnormality in relating to people. The child's behavior is appropriate for his or her age. Some shyness, fussiness, or annoyance at being told what to do may be observed, but not to an atypical degree.


(if between these points)


Mildly abnormal relationships. The child may avoid looking the adult in the eye, avoid the adult or become fussy if interaction is forced, be excessively shy, not be as responsive to the adult as is typical, or cling to parents somewhat more than most children of the same age.


(if between these points)


Moderately abnormal relationships. The child shows aloofness (seems unaware of adult) at times. Persistent and forceful attempts are necessary to get the child's attention at times. Minimal contact is initiated by the child.


(if between these points)


Severely abnormal relationships. The child is consistently aloof or unaware of what the adult is doing. He or she almost never responds or initiates contact with the adult. Only the most persistent attempts to get the child's attention have any effect.

Body Use


Age appropriate body use. The child moves with the same ease, agility, and coordination of a normal child of the same age.


(if between these points)


Mildly abnormal body use. Some minor peculiarities may be present, such as clumsiness, repetitive movements, poor coordination, or the rare appearance of more unusual movements.


(if between these points)


Moderately abnormal body use. Behaviors that are clearly strange or unusual for a child of this age may include strange finger movements, peculiar finger or body posturing, staring or picking at the body, self-directed aggression, rocking, spinning, finger-wiggling, or toe-walking.


(if between these points)


Severely abnormal body use. Intense or frequent movements of the type listed above are signs of severely abnormal body use. These behaviors may persist despite attempts to discourage them or involve the child in other activities.

Adaptation to Change


Age appropriate response to change. While the child may notice or comment on changes in routine, he or she accepts these changes without undue distress.


(if between these points)


Mildly abnormal adaptation to change. When an adult tries to change tasks the child may continue the same activity or use the same materials.


(if between these points)


Moderately abnormal adaptation to change. The child actively resists changes in routine, tries to continue the old activity, and is difficult to distract. He or she may become angry and unhappy when an established routine is altered.


(if between these points)


Severely abnormal adaptation to change. The child shows severe reactions to change. If a change is forced, he or she may become extremely angry or uncooperative and respond with tantrums.

Listening Response


Age appropriate listening response. The child's listening behavior is normal and appropriate for age. Listening is used together with other senses.


(if between these points)


Mildly abnormal listening response. There may be some lack of response, or mild overreaction to certain sounds. Responses to sounds may be delayed, and sounds may need repetition to catch the child's attention. The child may be distracted by extraneous sounds.


(if between these points)


Moderately abnormal listening response. The child's responses to sounds vary; often ignores a sound the first few times it is made; may be startled or cover ears when hearing some everyday sounds.


(if between these points)


Severely abnormal listening response. The child overreacts and/or under reacts to sounds to an extremely marked degree, regardless of the type of sound.

Verbal Communication


Normal verbal communication, age and situation appropriate.


(if between these points)


Mildly abnormal verbal communication. Speech shows overall retardation. Most speech is meaningful; however, some echolalia or pronoun reversal may occur. Some peculiar words or jargon may be used occasionally.


(if between these points)


Moderately abnormal verbal communication. Speech may be absent. When present, verbal communication may be a mixture of some meaningful speech and some peculiar speech such as jargon, echolalia, or pronoun reversal.  Peculiarities in meaningful speech include excessive questioning or preoccupation with particular topics.


(if between these points)


Severely abnormal verbal communication. Meaningful speech is not used. The child may make infantile squeals, weird or animal-like sounds, complex noises approximating speech, or may show persistent, bizarre use of some recognizable words or phrases.

This sample was used with permission from Western Psychological Services and the authors.

The complete Childhood Autism Rating Scale is available to qualified professionals. Please write to:

Western Psychological Services
12031 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

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