THURSDAY, March 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The Social Attention and Communication Surveillance-Revised (SACS-R) with SACS-Preschool (SACS-PR) has high diagnostic accuracy for the identification of autism in a community-based sample of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, according to a study published online March 11 in JAMA Network Open.

Josephine Barbaro, Ph.D., from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined the diagnostic accuracy of the SACS-R and SACS-PR tools when used with a large, community-based, convenience sample of 13,511 children aged 11 to 42 months receiving a routine child health consultation (June 1, 2013, to July 31, 2018).

The researchers found that at 12 to 24 months of age, SACS-R showed high diagnostic accuracy, with an 83 percent positive predictive value and 99 percent estimated negative predictive value. Specificity was high (99.6 percent), while sensitivity was modest (62 percent). With the addition of the SACS-PR at the 42-month assessment, estimated sensitivity increased to 96 percent. Between ages 11 and 30 months, autism prevalence was 2 percent (one in 50) and increased to 3.3 percent (one in 31) at ages 11 to 42 months.

“Its greater accuracy compared with psychometrics of commonly used autism screening tools when used in community-based samples suggests that the SACS-R+PR can be used universally for the early identification of autism,” the authors write.

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