Screening for Autism in Mexico


Address for correspondence and reprints: Eric Fombonne, Montreal Children's Hospital, 4018 Ste-Catherine West, Montreal, QC, H3Z 1P2, Canada. E-mail:


In order to conduct the screening phase of the first epidemiological survey of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in Mexico, we needed a screening tool to detect autistic symptomatology in a large sample of school-age children. We used the Spanish version of the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS). We recruited a clinical sample of 200 children (81% males; mean age: 7.4 years) with a confirmed diagnosis of ASDs and a sample of 363 control children (59.5% males; mean age: 8.5 years) without ASDs. Three-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) identified a main effect of clinical status (ASDs vs. controls) for both parent and teacher scales, but no gender or age effect. The mean total and subscale raw scores were significantly different between the clinical and control groups for the parent and for the teacher SRS (P < 0.001). The internal consistency of the SRS was excellent. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses showed excellent discriminant validity of the SRS in the Mexican sample (area under the curve: 0.962 for the parent, 0.960 for the teacher). ROC curves were also used to determine which cutoff would provide the best trade-off between sensitivity and specificity. Mexican SRS scores were significantly higher than in the U.S. and German population for typically developing children but comparable for clinically referred subjects. The SRS is an acceptable screening instrument for epidemiological studies of ASDs in Mexico. Its psychometric properties are excellent and comparable to those derived from North American and other samples. Autism Res 2012, 5: 180–189. © 2012 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.