The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) is a semi-structured, standardized assessment designed for use in diagnostic evaluation of individuals with suspected autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The ADOS has been effective in categorizing children who definitely have autism or not, but has lower specificity and sometimes sensitivity for distinguishing children with milder ASDs. Revised ADOS algorithms have been recently developed. The goals of this study were to analyze the predictive validity of different ADOS algorithms for module 3, in particular for high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. The participants were 252 children and adolescents aged between four and 16 years, with a full-scale IQ above 70 (126 with a diagnosis of ASD, 126 with a heterogeneous non-spectrum diagnosis). As a main finding, sensitivity was substantially higher for the newly developed ‘revised algorithm’, both for autism versus non-spectrum, as well as for the broader ASD versus non-spectrum, using the higher cut-off. The strength of the original algorithm lies in its positive predictive power, while the revised algorithm shows weaknesses in specificity for non-autism ASD. As the ADOS is valid and reliable even for higher functioning ASD, the findings of the present study have been used to make recommendations regarding the best use of ADOS algorithms in a high-functioning sample.
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