Archived | Autism Speaks: The Pre-school Social Communication Assessment Measure (PSCAM): Sensitivity to Developmental Change and Early Intervention Efforts. | Circa 2009 #NotAnAutisticAlly

The Pre-school Social Communication Assessment Measure (PSCAM): Sensitivity to Developmental Change and Early Intervention Efforts.

Tony Charman,
Ph.D. Institute of Child Health, United Kingdom

Grant description:

Significant progress has been made in the identification of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the pre-school period. Age on entry to a program and an emphasis on developing communication skills are important elements of successful early intervention programs.

Although several screening (CHAT, M-CHAT, STAT) and diagnostic instruments (ADI-R, ADOS-G) have good clinical utility, they are unlikely to be sensitive measures of intervention effectiveness. In part this is because their primary aim is diagnostic. Further, they focus on measuring impairments in social and communicative capacities.

As most intervention programs have increasing social communicative competencies as a key aim, novel instruments that measure competencies in these early social communication abilities are required. Non-verbal social communication abilities including joint attention, imitation, play and reciprocal interactions are “precursors” to later language and social-communicative competence in both children with ASD and typical development.

As part of screening and early intervention research studies over the past 8 years, we have assessed 50 children with ASD under the age of 24 months. We developed an interactive assessment measure that focuses on early social and communicative capacities (Pre-school Social Communication Assessment Measure; PSCAM).

Systematic analysis of the PSCAM videotapes from the two extant datasets will allow us to evaluate if the PSCAM is a sensitive index of developmental change in pre-school children with ASD and a sensitive index of outcome in pre-school children with ASD enrolled in an ongoing early intervention study. 

Funded in partnership with Repligen Corporation


Drew A, Baird G, Taylor E, Milne E, Charman T. The Social Communication Assessment for Toddlers with Autism (SCATA): An Instrument to Measure the Frequency, Form and Function of Communication in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2006 Oct 19; [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 17051443

The Social Communication Assessment for Toddlers with Autism had been developed to measure non-verbal communication in young children with ASD. Using the SCATA, the researchers examined the language abilities of two groups of toddlers over time, one over a 12 month period and one over a period of 21 months.

They found that while the overall number of non-verbal communicative acts did not change over time, there were changes in the frequency of certain forms of communication, as well the complexity, function and the child’s role in the communicative act. Later language proficiency was associated with both frequency and function of communication in toddlerhood.

Charman T, Taylor E, Drew A, Cockerill H, Brown JA, Baird G. Outcome at 7 years of children diagnosed with autism at age 2: predictive validity of assessments conducted at 2 and 3 years of age and pattern of symptom change over time. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2005 May;46(5):500-13. PMID: 15845130

Autism is a developmental order, with observed behavioral symptoms reported to change with age. How these changes may affect diagnosis is particularly important to developing better early diagnostic strategies.

This study found that diagnoses made at 2 years using standard measures were not predictive of diagnostic outcomes at age 7, but that diagnoses made at age 3 years were. Clinical diagnoses were stable over time, but the children showed variability in categorical diagnoses based on the ADI-R over time.

The researchers also showed that there was variability in the pattern of change over time in specific symptoms as measured by the ADI-R. This study highlights the importance of taking into the account that changes in symptoms not only vary over time, but that different symptoms may show different patterns of change.

The authors also suggest that when considering very early diagnostic measures, formal IQ and language measures may be less informative than considering general social-communication behaviors.


Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.

The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.

Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

One Reply to “Archived | Autism Speaks: The Pre-school Social Communication Assessment Measure (PSCAM): Sensitivity to Developmental Change and Early Intervention Efforts. | Circa 2009 #NotAnAutisticAlly”

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