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The Development of the Multidimensional Social Competence Scale: A Standardized Measure of Social Competence in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Authors

  • Jodi Yager,

    Corresponding author
    1. Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
    • Address for correspondence and reprints: Yager, J. Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 1S6. E-mail: jyager@sfu.ca

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  • Grace Iarocci

    1. Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
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Abstract

Autism and its related disorders are commonly described as lying along a continuum that ranges in severity and are collectively referred to as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Although all individuals with ASD meet the social impairment diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-IV-TR, they do not present with the same social difficulties. The variability in the expression and severity of social competence is particularly evident among the group of individuals with “high-functioning” ASD who appear to have difficulty applying their average to above average intelligence in a social context. There is a striking paucity of empirical research investigating individual differences in social functioning among individuals with high-functioning ASD. It is possible that more detailed investigations of social competence have been impeded by the lack of standardized measures available to assess the nature and severity of social impairment. The aim of the current study was to develop and evaluate a parent rating scale capable of assessing individual differences in social competence (i.e. strengths and challenges) among adolescents with ASD: the Multidimensional Social Competence Scale (MSCS). Results from confirmatory factor analyses supported the hypothesized multidimensional factor structure of the MSCS. Seven relatively distinct domains of social competence were identified including social motivation, social inferencing, demonstrating empathic concern, social knowledge, verbal conversation skills, nonverbal sending skills, and emotion regulation. Psychometric evidence provided preliminary support for the reliability and validity of the scale. Possible applications of this promising new parent rating scale in both research and clinical settings are discussed. Autism Res 2013, 6: 631–641. © 2013 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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