Development of the Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication

Recruitment

  • If you are a clinical centre where the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)  is regularly provided, you may be eligible to be one of our research study sites.

  • If you are a parent/guardian of a child between the ages of 3 and 6 years who has been scheduled for an ADOS, you may be eligible to participate in this study.

  • To learn more about this study, please see our recruitment poster and contact the research coordinator.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a huge challenge in the field of childhood neurodevelopmental disability. The wide 'spectrum' of these conditions means that people's functional capacities and limitations vary enormously.

A challenge in the field of ASD is how to categorize children's functional difficulties meaningfully. There are many tools that assess the functional status of children with ASD, but no valid and reliable functional classification system exists with which to group children with apparently similar functional status. Such a system (e.g., the Gross Motor Function Classification System [GMFCS]), developed by the PI's group for Cerebral Palsy (CP), is used around the world. This makes it possible to talk about and study groups of children who are similar with respect to the characteristic(s) being classified. This kind of categorization allows clinicians to answer parents' key questions ("How bad is our child's condition?" "What does the future hold for our child?"). In CP, gross motor function is the GMFCS domain by which to group ability levels. The hallmark domain that impacts on function of children with ASD, identified in our pilot work, is social communication and a spectrum of levels of this ability must be categorized.

The aim of this study is to develop and evaluate the measurement properties of an Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication (ACSF:SC), to describe and categorize functioning of preschool children with ASD. The ACSF:SC is NOT a new ASD symptom measure; rather it will be a novel classification system designed to provide a valid and reliable means to describe functionally similar children with ASD, based on the construct of 'social communication' defined by our work with parents of children with ASD and experienced ASD professionals (i.e., educators and clinicians). With the importance of early intervention in ASD, we are purposely focusing our present work on preschool children. Once a valid and reliable ACSF:SC has been developed, our research program will expand the work both downward to study infants and toddlers, and upward to include older children and adolescents.

ACSF: SC Research Projects

Development of the Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication (ACSF:SC)

Canadian Institutes of Health Sciences (CIHR) grant:

  • $374,666 awarded in September 2011, for three years.

Co-Principal Investigators:

Briano Di Rezze, PhD, OT Reg(Ont.), Scientist, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, Assistant Professor, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Peter Rosenbaum, MD, FRCP(C), Co-Founder, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, Professor of Paediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Co-Investigators:

Trainee:

Towards a Functional Classification System for Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Prospective Examination to Classify Social Communication Abilities

Hamilton Academic Health Sciences Organization (HAHSO) grant:

  • $192,834 awarded in April 2015, for two years.

Co-Principal Investigators:

Briano Di Rezze, PhD, OT Reg(Ont.), Scientist, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, Assistant Professor, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Peter Rosenbaum, MD, FRCP(C), Co-Founder, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, Professor of Paediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Co-Investigators:

Trainees:

  • Steve Gentles (Post-doctoral Fellow)
  • ​Ghaidaa Khalifa (PhD student)

Research Coordinators & Knowledge Brokers

Project Updates

Webinars

Conference Presentations

  • Di Rezze et al. – IMFAR May 2016 (Poster)
  • Gentles et al. – IMFAR May-2016 (Poster)
  • Di Rezze et al. – IMFAR  2014 (Podium)
  • Di Rezze et al. – AACPDM 2014 (Podium)
  • Di Rezze et al – ASHA November 2013 (Poster)
  • ​Stone et al – ASHA November 2012 (Poster)

Journal Articles

The Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication (ACSF:SC)

CanChild researchers have developed a new tool to help identify ‘levels’ of social communication skills among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication (ACSF:SC) is a five-level descriptive system based the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF).  

The ACSF:SC will not replace any diagnostic tools or assessments, and it is not a test or a checklist. The ACSF:SC provides a standardized and simplified way for clinicians, therapists, teachers, and parents to talk about what a child’s social communication abilities are – what they CAN DO rather than what they cannot do, in two situations:

  • When they are preforming at their best (Capacity)
  • ​What they usually do (Typical Performance)

This information can then be communicated easily between parents and professionals (educator, clinicians) to help people understand and potentially improve a child’s social communication functioning in everyday life.

Personal Investigator-Initiated Research Use:

  • We are pleased to be able to offer the ACSF:SC User Guide and Tool at no cost for personal, non-commercial and unfunded investigator-initiated studies.

Licensing and Commercial Research Uses:

  • We are happy to facilitate licensing of the ACF:SC for commercial clinical trials, industry sponsored research, or integration into electronic health records.

The ACSF: SC Tool & User Guide is available for download in our resources section