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University of Gothenburg
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About ASSERT

The ASSERT questionnaire (Autism Symptom SElf-ReporT for adolescents and adults) is a short self-administered questionnaire for people who might possibly have an autism spectrum disorder. It can be used as an aid in determining whether any autism spectrum disorder might be present or not (screen), and can be especially useful if the person affected has no opportunity to ask anyone close to them about the problem. However, many people with autism spectrum disorder find it difficult to see their own problems causing false negative responses, and people with good social abilities may question their social function creating false positive reponses. ASSERT takes this into consideration to some degree, but should never be used as the sole criterion for refuting or confirming autism problems. 

Contact us

For questions regarding the ASSERT questionnaire please contact

Maj-Britt Posserud Maj-Britt.Posserud@uni.no

 

Development of the ASSERT

The ASSERT was originally developed by Gillberg and Posserud at the Gillberg group at the University of Gothenburg for use in the population studies of mental health among adolescents. The seven items in the ASSERT were derived from the Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Interview, and adapted for use as self-report in youth age 16-19.

Structure of the ASSERT

The ASSERT consists of seven items, four focusing on social behavior and three focusing on repetitive behavior and interests (RRBI) to screen for autism. Factor analysis confirmed the structure of the scale as having an overall general factor, a social factor and an RRBI factor. 

How to use the ASSERT questionnaire

The questionnaire is used for self-report. The items are scored as “not true” – 0 points, “somewhat true” – 1 point and “certainly true” – 2 points. It has been validated in this format in a large Norwegian normal population of youth age 16-19 years old and shown good screening properties. When summed this way the items provide a scale of maximum 14 points. In the Bergen Child Study we also tested a modified scoring where the four social items were weighted more and scored as 0-2-4 points with a total scale score maximum of 22 points. This scoring improved the diagnostic odds ratio of the scale as the social items contribute more to the score. The best screening properties are obtained using the modified scoring and a cut-off of ≥8 points as screen positive. This provides a sensitivity of 0.80 and a specificity of 0.86. The validation study provides sensitivity and specificity values for all the scores of the standard scoring and the modified scoring of the ASSERT for alternative cut-off choices depending on the intended use of the questionnaire.

Posserud, M.B., Breivik, K., Gillberg, C., & Lundervold, A.J. (2013). ASSERT–The Autism Symptom SElf-ReporT for adolescents and adults: Bifactor analysis and validation in a large adolescent population. Research in developmental disabilities34 (12), 4495-4503.

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