The Early Childhood Inventory -4 and Child Symptom Inventory -4 as screening measures for pervasive developmental disorders: A validity study

Jane Lindsay Gudaitis, Pace University


This study seeks to validate a psychiatric checklist for parents and teachers that clinicians could use for early screening of children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). The Early Childhood Inventory-4 (ECI-4) (Gadow & Sprafkin, 1997) is a DSM-IV-referenced behavior checklist that has been found to show sensitivity to a wide range of psychiatric symptomatology. This checklist is designed to assess children from the ages of three to five years old who might have disruptive behavior disorders, anxiety disorders and other disorders including Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome and PDD-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). The Childhood Symptom Inventory-4 (CSI-4) (Gadow & Sprafkin, 1997, 1998) uses the same DSM-IV referenced behavior checklist, but is designed for older children. The CSI-4 has also produced good results in its reliability for all diagnostic categories (Gadow & Sprafkin, 1997a). Prior validity testing yielded good results for the same measure derived from the DSM-III-R (Grayson & Carlson, 1991; Livingston, Adam, & Dykman, 1992). ^ This study tests the accuracy of the ECI-4 and the CSI-4 parent and teacher checklists for diagnosing a slightly larger group of PDD children (ECI-4, n = 29; CSI-4, n = 42) than previously studied by Gadow and Sprafkin (1997) (ECI-4, n = 21, CSI-4, n = 14). Due to the difficulty in assessing PDD children, given the range of subtypes, the National Institute of Health (NIH) (1999) recommends using a combination of sources for gathering information for the diagnostic assessment of PDD (Filipek et al., 1999). These sources include the ADOS-G, a direct child observation measure; school observations; a detailed developmental history and consultation with a specialist in autism (Filipek et al., 1999). This study utilized the ADOS-G for a comparison of scores from ECI-4 and CSI-4 parent and teacher checklists. It also compared these parent and teacher checklists to clinical consensus diagnoses from a team of at least two clinicians, one who is a specialist in autism. ^ The results of this study highlight the difficulty in clearly identifying children with PDD. The ECI-4 and CSI-4 should be considered useful measures for identifying certain subtypes within the PDD spectrum, specifically for the diagnosis of Autistic Disorder. The teacher checklist, however, seems to have greater validity for identifying children with Autistic Disorder than the parent checklist. In addition, the severity scores appear to be more robust than the cut-off scores in identifying Autistic Disorder and Asperger Syndrome. The ECI-4 and CSI-4 are not useful in identification of children with PDD-NOS. According to this study, these screening measures would best be used in settings where the full range of clinical disorders present themselves and where initial impressions are collected. When a Level 1 screening measure is needed specifically for children suspected of having PDD, the best measures are those recommended by the NIH/ACC: The Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Second Edition (ASQ: Bricker & Squires, 1994, 1999; Squires, Bricker, & Potter, 1997), The Brigance Screens (Brigance, 1986; Glasco, 1996), The Child Development Inventory (CDI, Ireton, 1992; Ireton & Glasco, 1995) or The Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS, Glascoe, 1998). ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Psychometrics

Recommended Citation

Gudaitis, Jane Lindsay, "The Early Childhood Inventory -4 and Child Symptom Inventory -4 as screening measures for pervasive developmental disorders: A validity study" (2002). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3065557.



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