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Formal Assessments

There are many assessments that can be used with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Different assessments will assess different areas. Communication is an area that it will be important for the educational team to assess in order to determine strengths and needs.

Remember, the evaluation results and reports that helped identify the student as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder may give the team valuable information about communication and social engagement that can help your team design the best intervention plan for the student. It is essential and best practice to look at all assessment results and to discuss them with your team in order to help the student in the most effective ways.

In this table, you will find information about common assessments in the area of Communication including the student's receptive language skills (the ability to understand spoken language), expressive language skills (ability to put words together to express thoughts cohesively) and/or pragmatic language skills (using verbal and nonverbal language appropriately in social situations). These assessments provide a wide range of information about the way your student is currently communicating and can help guide the team in identifying the most appropriate intervention plan. It is important to consider evaluation results from these tests and the student's most critical needs in order to determine where to begin and what skills should be targeted first.

Name of assessment Who can administer Who is it for? What does it assess?
Ages and Stages Questionnaire-3 (ASQ-3) Caregiver 1 month to 5.6 yrs Reveals child's strengths, skills, and areas of concern
Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills, Revised (ABLLS-R) Teacher, SLP, Psychologist 3 to 9 yrs Identifies difficulty in language, academic, self-help & motor skills. It is an assessment, curriculum guide & skills tracking system
Autism Social Skills Profile (ASSP) Parent, Teacher 5 to 18 yrs Checklist designed to provide a comprehensive measure of social functioning in children and adolescents with ASD. The ASSP was designed to assist with intervention planning and to provide a measure of intervention outcomes.
Children's Communication Checklist - 2 (CCC-2) SLP, Psychologist 4 to 16.11 yrs Looks at speech, vocabulary, sentence structure and social language skills of children and adolescents who speak in sentences
Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals - 5 (CELF-5) SLP 5 to 21 yrs Attention to people, play, vocal development, gesture, social communication, vocabulary, qualitative, quantitative and special concepts, time/sequence, morphology, syntax, phonological awareness
Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals Preschool-P 2(CELF:P-2) SLP 3 to 6 yrs Core language, receptive and expressive language, language, content and structure
Communication Matrix SLP Birth to 2 yrs Looks at refusing, requesting, social interactions, and seek information
Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language (CASL) SLP 3 - 21 yrs Assesses basic concepts, antonyms/synonyms, sentence completion, idiomatic language, syntax construction, paragraph comprehension, grammatical morphemes, sentence comprehension, nonliteral language, inference, and awareness of appropriate language in a situational context
Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profiles (CSBS DP) SLP, psychologist, early interventionist, pediatrician 6 mos. to 6 yrs. Measures eye gaze, emotion, communication, gestures, sounds, words, understanding, and object use
Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence (CTONI) Psychologist 6 - 89 yrs Uses nonverbal formats to measure general intelligence of children and adults whose performance on traditional tests might be adversely affected by subtle or overt impairments involving language or motor abilities.
Evaluating Acquired Skills In Communication -3 (EASIC -3) SLP 3 mos. to 6.3 yrs. Assesses the areas of prelinguistic skills, semantics, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics.
Expressive One Word Picture Vocabulary Test - 4th Edition (EOWPVT-4) SLP, Psychologist 2 to 80 yrs Tests an individual's ability to name, with one word, objects, actions, and concepts when presented with color illustrations. Can be used to assess and document vocabulary development.
Expressive Vocabulary Test, 2nd Edition (EVT-2) SLP, Psychologist 2.6 to 80 yrs Assesses expressive vocabulary with a test that requires no reading or writing.
Functional Communication Profile- Revised (FCP-R) SLP, special education teacher 3 yrs to adult Evaluates sensory-motor skills, attentiveness, receptive and expressive language, pragmatic/social language, speech, voice, oral fluency and nonverbal communication
Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS) SLP, psychologist 3 to 21 yrs. for listening comprehension and oral expression; 5 to 21 yrs. for written expression Assesses vocabulary, grammar, pragmatic structures, and higher order thinking; provides an individual's ability to understand and produce connected language, both spoken and written.
Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, 4th Edition (PPVT-4) SLP, psychologist 2.6 to 80 yrs Measures understanding of the spoken word to assess vocabulary acquisition.
Preschool Language Scale - 5 (PLS-5) SLP Birth to 7.11 yrs Targets interaction, attention, vocal/gestural behaviors, and different levels of play
Pragmatic Language Observation Scale Teachers, psychologists 8 to 17.11 yrs Assesses students' daily classroom spoken language behaviors.
Pragmatic Language Skills Inventory Teachers, parents 5 to 12.11 yrs Assesses children's pragmatic language abilities in three subscales: Personal Interaction Skills, Social Interaction Skills, and Classroom Interaction Skills.
Psychoeducational Profile-Revised (PEP-3) Teacher, SLP, psychologist 6 mos. to 7 yrs. Charts uneven and idiosyncratic development, emerging skills and used to assist in programming. Determines strengths and weaknesses, established development/adaptive levels
Receptive-Expressive Emergent Language Test -3 (REEL-3) SLP Birth to 3 yrs Receptive and expressive language and inventory of vocabulary words
Receptive One Word Picture Vocabulary Test - 4th Edition (ROWPVT-4) SLP, psychologist 2 to 80 yrs Tests an individual's ability to match a spoken word with an image of an object, action, or concept. Can be used to assess and document vocabulary development.
The Rosetti Infant-Toddler Language Scale SLP, any member of an early interventionist team Birth to 3 yrs Interaction attachment, pragmatics, gesture, play, language and comprehension
Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) Parent, teacher 4 to 40 yrs A brief instrument that helps to evaluate the communication skills and social functioning of an individual who might have autism.
Social Language Development Test Elementary SLP, psychologist 6 to 11 yrs Focuses on language-based skills of social interpretation and interaction with friends; assesses student's language-based responses to portrayed, peer to peer situations
Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) Teacher, parent 4 to 18 yrs Measures severity of ASD in natural social settings; assesses social awareness, social information processing, capacity for reciprocal social communication, social anxiety/avoidance, and preoccupations and traits
Test of Aided-Communication Symbol Preference (TASP) SLP, psychologist Children and adults who can point to pictures Provides a starting point for designing or selecting an appropriate AAC device page set. Uses results to design communication boards and establish appropriate AAC intervention goals and strategies targeting symbolic and syntactic development
Test of Early Communication and Emerging Language (TECEL) Teacher, psychologist 2 weeks to 24 mos. (Formerly known as The Non Speech Test) Used to assess and chart communication and language strengths and weaknesses and design intervention plans and to make estimates about future language development
TEACCH Transition Assessment Profile (TTAP) Teacher, psychologist, parent, caregiver 3rd through 12th grades Evaluates six major functional skill areas: Vocational Skills, Vocational Behavior, Independent Functioning, Leisure Skills, Functional Communication and Interpersonal Behavior
Test of Language Competence-Expanded SLP, psychologist Level 1: 5 to 9 yrs;
Level 2: 10 to 18 yrs
Assesses higher level language function ambiguous sentence, listening comprehension, making inference, oral expression, figurative language, memory
Test of Language Development: Intermediate-4 (TOLD: I-4) SLP 8 to 17.11 yrs Sentence combining, picture vocabulary, word ordering, relational vocabulary, morphological comprehension and multiple meanings
Test of Language Development: Primary-4 (TOLD:P-4) SLP 6 to 19 yrs Picture, relational and oral vocabulary, syntactic understanding, sentence imitation, morphological completion, word discrimination, word analysis and word articulation
Test of Pragmatic Language (TOPL-2) SLP 6 to 19 yrs Physical setting, audience, topic, purpose, visual-gestural cues, abstraction
Test of Problem Solving 2-Adolescent (TOPS-2) SLP 12 to 18 yrs Making inferences, determining solutions, problem solving, interpreting, perspective, and transferring insights.
Test of Problem Solving 2-Elementary (TOPS-2) SLP 6 to 12 yrs Making inferences, sequencing, negative questions, problem solving, predicting, determining causes
Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) Teacher, SLP, psychologist 18 mos. to adult Criterion reference tool, curriculum guide, and skill tracking system. Serves as a guide for development of individualized language, social skills, and learning.

Considerations for Assessment

There are a number of challenges in trying to accurately assess communication abilities of a student with autism. Formal assessments can provide important information but may not yield the kind of information that leads to meaningful goal development. When determining whether to use formal or informal assessments, the following factors need to be considered:

Considerations for Assessment
The student might have difficulties understanding directions or how to respond. He could lack the communication skills to answer "yes" or "no."
A student with autism might lack motivation because she does not understand the importance of trying to do her best in a testing situation. A student with autism might suffer from anxiety and will not function well in an unfamiliar situation with an unfamiliar adult.
Distractibility and disorganization are often associated with autism and can make performing on cue difficult. The student's ability to respond and communicate can vary a great deal from one day to the next, making it difficult to get an accurate measure.
There can also be significant discrepancies from one skill to the next. A student with high functioning autism might appear to have a well-developed expressive vocabulary, while his receptive language skills are limited. The testing situation is different from everyday life. How the student interacts in the classroom or at home may not be reflected in the assessment setting, where interactions take place in a one-on-one, organized format.
During an assessment, the student is given more time to process language than during typical everyday exchanges. In the typical assessment, the clinician directs activities and communication. The ability to initiate communication (a common problem with autism) is often not evaluated.
An evaluation sometimes ignores critical nonverbal and pragmatic language skills.  

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