Validity and clinical utility of the Autism Mental Status Exam

Brianna Jordan Lewis, Fordham University


The American Academy of Pediatrics outlined clinical policy recommendations for surveillance and screening in children for developmental delays, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) specifically, through pediatric settings. This study investigated the psychometric properties and clinical utility of the Autism Mental Status Exam (AMSE), a new brief measure assessing ASD. Convergent validity was investigated within a sample (n = 79) of referred children (2.5–17.3 yeas old) seen for an initial evaluation in a developmental pediatric clinic, specialty autism clinic, and an early childhood special education clinic. The AMSE was compared to the Social Responsiveness Scale, 2nd Edition (SRS-2). Total score and ASD risk classification from the AMSE were significantly correlated with the total score and risk classification from SRS-2. Risk classifications were not significantly correlated among the subsample from the developmental pediatric clinic. Internal consistency of the AMSE was poor (α = .58) in the current sample. Clinical utility of the AMSE was also investigated within a sample ( n = 117) of children (3 months–17.25 years) who were solely seen in a developmental pediatric clinic. Children seen prior to implementation of the AMSE served as the control group. Overall, the AMSE did not improve clinical practice. Specifically, there were a significantly greater number of measures used during evaluation in the AMSE group. Also, there was no significant difference between AMSE and non-AMSE patient groups in rate of referral for a comprehensive ASD evaluation or ASD-related services. Nor was there any difference between groups on follow-up visits to the clinic. Findings by age group are discussed. Further psychometric validity related to construct validity of AMSE items yielded inconsistent support. Overall, the current study provided mixed psychometric support for the AMSE. Therefore, further investigation of the AMSE’s reliability and validity is warranted before it should be used in a generalist pediatric setting.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Lewis, Brianna Jordan, "Validity and clinical utility of the Autism Mental Status Exam" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3728409.