There are limited tools developed for preschool teachers to aid them in identifying these children with possible autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study aims to describe the development and present preliminary data of a checklist for ASD screening for preschool teachers (CAPT-S) in Singapore that is easy for preschool teachers to use to identify ASD in mainstream preschoolers from 3 to 6 years old.
This study adopted a cross-sectional questionnaire design. The CAPT-S is a 12-item checklist based on the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition criteria and derived from a survey in a previous study that examined preschool teachers’ perceptions of challenging behaviors in preschoolers with ASD in Singapore. Participants consisted of 63 preschool teachers (mean age = 29.4 years; SD = 9.8) teaching in mainstream preschool centers located in Singapore, and they were asked to use the CAPT-S to rate their students on a four-point Likert scale on frequency of observed behavior.
Preliminary results indicated construct validity was demonstrated and high reliability in terms of internal consistency and moderate test–retest reliability of the CAPT-S. Diagnostic validity of the CAPT-S was also established, even after controlling for variables such as working experience and time spent working with that student. The optimal cutoff score of 24 produced high sensitivity and specificity.
The present study adds an important contribution to the literature on using preschool teachers as an additional informant in the screening process of ASD. The CAPT-S may be suitable for preschool teachers to use to identify children with possible ASD, although future studies would need to be conducted to examine its effectiveness.