Telephone assessments with A-TAC can identify childhood autistic disorders
Sep 2, 2005 - 2:27:38 AM

A telephone interview with parents devised by psychiatrists can be used successfully for assessing autistic spectrum disorders in their children.

These disorders include tics, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other psychiatric problems, such as developmental co-ordination disorder and specific learning disorders.

This Swedish study, published in the September issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, set out to test a parent telephone interview focused on autistic disorders. The Autism-Tics, ADHD and Other Comorbidities Inventory (A-TAC) is a comprehensive screening interview developed at Goteborg University to screen general populations in research and mental health surveys. It is intended for use with parents and lay people, rather than expert interviewers.

The parents of 84 children in contact with a child neuropsychiatric clinic, and 27 healthy control children, were interviewed over the telephone using the A-TAC, which takes between 15 and 35 minutes to complete. The validity and reliability of the test was assessed.

Test reliability was found to be excellent overall. It was highly significant for all the dimensions assessed, and good for most aspects of the neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly for autistic spectrum disorder, tics, ADHD, learning disorders and developmental co-ordination disorder.

The researchers commented that the A-TAC compared very well with an entirely different diagnostic procedure - a comprehensive neuropsychiatric assessment by a team of clinical specialists.

They are now developing A-TAC further, by including more questions. This new test will be further validated in other neuropsychiatric patient groups, in child and adolescent psychiatry, and in the general population.

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