Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist

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Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist
Purposeassessment of autism in children

The Autism Treatment Evaluation Scale (ATEC) is a 77-item diagnostic assessment tool that was developed by Bernard Rimland and Stephen Edelson at the Autism Research Institute. The ATEC was originally designed to evaluate the effectiveness of autism treatments, but it may also be beneficial as a screening tool for children.[1][2][3][4] The questionnaire, which is completed by a parent, takes about 10–15 minutes to complete and is designed for use with children ages 5–12. The ATEC is currently available in 17 different languages.[5]

Several research studies support the ATEC as a reliable and valid instrument in the assessment of children's autism symptoms and improvements.[2][3][4][5] ATEC's subscale measurements of behavior, cognitive awareness, and communication correlated significantly with other standardized measures of the same characteristics.[6] Research has also found the ATEC to be successful in measuring interventional effects as well as tracking behavioral development over periods of time.[1][2] However, studies analyzing the cross-cultural validity of the ATEC have yielded mixed results.[7][8]


Many psychological measures for autism assess stability over time. However, with the rise of various preventative programs for autism, there is an increased need for these measures to assess change over time.[6] Additionally, not all measures orientated towards infants and toddlers are appropriate for older children as they continue to develop. The ATEC was created to measure the success of these preventative programs and measures change over time in children of various ages. High quality practice parameters have now been established to help guide the assessment and treatment of ASD.[9]

Scoring and interpretation[edit]

Item breakdown[edit]

Questions are divided into four subscales based on content.

  • Section 1: speech/language and communication
  • Section 2: sociability
  • Section 3: sensory and cognitive awareness
  • Section 4: physical/health behavior


For Sections 1–3, parents are asked to read the statement in each item and indicate whether it is "not true/descriptive," "somewhat true/descriptive," or "very true/descriptive" of their child. Section 4 asks parents to indicate whether the statements describe something that is "not a problem," a "minor problem," a "moderate problem," or a "serious problem" for their child.

Total scores on the ATEC range from 0-180 and are calculated by summing the scores of each subscale. In general, a higher score indicates a greater degree of impairment from symptoms. Responses to each question are assigned a numeric value and then added together.

  • In section 1 and section 3, an answer of "not true/descriptive" receives 2 points, an answer of "somewhat true/descriptive" receives 1 point, and an answer of "very true/descriptive" receives 0 points, wheres for section 2 an answer of "not true/descriptive" receives 0 point, an answer of "somewhat true/descriptive" receives 1 point, and an answer of "very true/descriptive" receives 2 points
  • In section 4, an answer of "not a problem" receives 0 point, an answer of a "minor problem" receives 1 point, an answer of a "moderate problem" receives 2 points, and an answer of a "serious problem" receives 3 points.

Cutoffs and interpretation[edit]

Both subscale scores and total scores can be used to calculate a percentile of severity that the participant falls under, relative to score distributions provided by the Autism Research Institute.[2] The following criteria for interpreting scores of the ATEC are as follows:

  • Total scores of less than 30 at the age of five- Indicate that the child possesses somewhat normal behavior patterns and communication skills and has a high chance of leading a normal and independent life exhibiting minimal ASD symptoms.
  • Total scores of less than 50 at the age of five- Indicate that the child will most likely be able to lead a semi-independent life without needing to be placed in a formal care facility.
  • Total scores of 104 or higher- Indicate that the child would fall into the 90th percentile and would be considered severely autistic. He or she will likely need continuous care, perhaps at an institution, and may be unable to achieve any degree of independence from others.[5][10]

Additional research on the ATEC identifies the various cutoffs and percentiles for subscale and total scores.[1][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mahapatra, Shreyas; Vyshedsky, David; Martinez, Samantha; Kannel, Benjamin; Braverman, Julia; Edelson, Stephen; Vyshedskiy, Andrey (16 February 2018). "Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) Norms: A "Growth Chart" for ATEC Score Changes as a Function of Age". Children. 5 (2): 25. doi:10.3390/children5020025. PMC 5835994. PMID 29462954.
  2. ^ a b c d Geier, DA; Kern, JK; Geier, MR (October 2013). "A Comparison of the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) and the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) for the Quantitative Evaluation of Autism". Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities. 6 (4): 255–267. doi:10.1080/19315864.2012.681340. PMC 3725669. PMID 23914277.
  3. ^ a b Teal, MB; Wiebe, MJ (December 1986). "A validity analysis of selected instruments used to assess autism". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 16 (4): 485–94. doi:10.1007/bf01531713. PMID 3804961. S2CID 32056094.
  4. ^ a b Accardo, P; Bostwick, H (November 1999). "Zebras in the living room: the changing faces of autism". The Journal of Pediatrics. 135 (5): 533–5. doi:10.1016/s0022-3476(99)70045-4. PMID 10547235.
  5. ^ a b c "Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC)". Autism Research Institute. Archived from the original on 2 December 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b Magiati, I; Moss, J; Yates, R; Charman, T; Howlin, P (March 2011). "Is the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist a useful tool for monitoring progress in children with autism spectrum disorders?". Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 55 (3): 302–12. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2788.2010.01359.x. PMID 21199043.
  7. ^ Memari, AH; Shayestehfar, M; Mirfazeli, FS; Rashidi, T; Ghanouni, P; Hafizi, S (June 2013). "Cross-cultural adaptation, reliability, and validity of the autism treatment evaluation checklist in Persian". Iranian Journal of Pediatrics. 23 (3): 269–75. PMC 3684470. PMID 23795248.
  8. ^ Charman, T; Howlin, P; Berry, B; Prince, E (March 2004). "Measuring developmental progress of children with autism spectrum disorder on school entry using parent report". Autism. 8 (1): 89–100. doi:10.1177/1362361304040641. PMID 15070549. S2CID 35720589.
  9. ^ Volkmar, F; Siegel, M; Woodbury-Smith, M; King, B; McCracken, J; State, M; American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Committee on Quality Issues, (CQI) (February 2014). "Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder". Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 53 (2): 237–57. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2013.10.013. PMID 24472258.
  10. ^ "Table of all screening tools and rating scales". School Psychiatry Program and MADI Resource Center. Massachusetts General Hospital. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Studies confirm validity of ATEC Report". Autism Research Institute. Archived from the original on 19 February 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]