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Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS)
by Eric Schopler, Ph.D., Robert J. Reichler, M.D., and Barbara Rochen Renner, Ph.D.

This 15-item behavior rating scale helps to identify children with autismand to distinguish them from developmentally handicapped children who are not autistic. In addition, it distinguishes mild-to-moderate from severe autism. Brief, convenient, and suitable for use withany child over 2 years of age, the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) makes it much easier for clinicians and educators to recognize and classify autistic children.
Developed over a 15-yearperiod, with more than 1,500 cases, CARS includes items drawn from five prominent systems for diagnosing autism. Each item covers a particular characteristic, ability, or behavior. After observing thechild and examining relevant information from parent reports and other records, the examiner rates the child on each item. Using a 7-point scale, he or she indicates the degree to which the child'sbehavior deviates from that of a normal child of the same age.
Professionals such as physicians, special educators, school psychologists, speech pathologists, and audiologists, who have had onlyminimal exposure to autism, can easily be trained to use CARS.
After the child has been rated on each of the 15 items, a total score is computed by summing the individual ratings. Children who scoreabove a given point are categorized as autistic. In addition, scores falling within the autistic range can be divided into two categories--mild-to-moderate autism and severe autism. Thiscategorization system is based on a comparison of CARS scores with the corresponding expert clinical assessments of over 1,500 children.
The product of long-term empirical research, CARS providesquantifiable ratings based on direct behavior observation. These ratings are an important element in the systematic diagnosis of autism.
Two training videos, showing how to use and score the scale, are...
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