ATEC: Interpretation and Validity

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Interpreting ATEC scores2019-04-23T09:10:44-05:00

August 2018 Update

Here we report the results of the subgroup analyses of an observational cohort of children whose parents completed the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) over the period of several years. A linear mixed effects model was used to evaluate longitudinal changes in ATEC scores within different patient subgroups. All groups decreased their mean ATEC score over time indicating improvement of symptoms, however there were significant differences between the groups. Younger children improved more than the older children. Children with milder ASD improved more than children with more severe ASD in the Communication subscale. There was no difference in improvement between females vs. males. One surprising finding was that children from developed English-speaking countries improved less than children from non-English-speaking countries.

Longitudinal Epidemiological Study of Autism Subgroups Using Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) Score

February 2018 Update

Most early-intervention Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) clinical trials are limited by the availability of psychometric technicians who assess each child’s abilities before and after therapeutic intervention. If parents could administer regular psychometric evaluations of their children, then the cost of clinical trials will be reduced, enabling longer clinical trials with the larger number of participants. The Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) was designed nearly two decades ago to provide such a tool, but the norms on the longitudinal changes in ATEC in the “treatment as usual” population were lacking. Here we report the norms of the observational cohort who voluntarily completed ATEC evaluations over the period of four years from 2013 to 2017.

Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) Norms: A “Growth Chart” for ATEC Score Changes as a Function of Age

July 2013 Update

Geier, D.A., Kern, J.K., & Geier, M.R. (2013).  A comparison of the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) and the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) for the quantitative evaluation of autism.  Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp 255-267.


December 2005 Update

The Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) was developed in 1999 to help researchers evaluate the effectiveness of various treatments for autistic children and adults and to help parents determine if their children benefit from a specific treatment. Parents and teachers use the ATEC to monitor or track how well their children are progressing over time, even without the introduction of a new treatment.


We examined the internal consistency of the ATEC by conducting a split-half reliability test on over 1,300 completed ATECs. The internal consistency reliability was high (.94 for the Total score). Professor Jim Adams at Arizona State University is conducting a study on the ATEC’s test-retest reliability. An initial analysis of the data, based on 22 parents, is very encouraging. Dr. Adams continues to collect data for his study.


We are aware of three published studies which has shown the ATEC to be sensitive to changes as a result of a treatment:

  • Betty Jarusiewicz (2002). Efficacy of neurofeedback for children in the autism spectrum: A pilot study. Journal of Neurotherapy, 2002, Vol. 6 (4), pp. 39-49
  • Derrick Lonsdale, Raymond J. Shamberger, Tapan Audhya (2002). Treatment of autism spectrum children with thiamine tetrahydrofurfuryl disulfide: A pilot study. Neuroendocrinology Letters, Vol. 23 (4), pp. 303-308
  • A study published on the Internet, by Jørgen Klaveness and Jay Bigam, showed that the ATEC was able to measure behavioral improvements as a result of the gluten-free/casein-free diet (

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh of the Center for Autism Related Disorders (CARD) is currently conducting a study examining the validity of the ATEC (i.e., comparing the results from the ATEC with the results from various standardized tests). We are also aware of several other studies that have successfully used the ATEC to evaluate various treatments. These studies are currently in preparation for publication.

Bernard Rimland, Ph.D.

Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D.
Research Associate

Statistical Analyses: May 7, 2000

Reliabilities and Score Distributions
The following data are based on the first 1358 initial (baseline) ATEC forms submitted to the Autism Research Institute. “Initial” refers to the first ATEC form submitted for a given individual.
Since the primary function of the ATEC is to measure the efficacy of interventions, it is expected that a number of ATECs will be submitted for each individual periodically during the trial of the intervention, subsequent to the initial (baseline) ATEC.

Pearson split-half (internal consistency) coefficient

Uncorrected r
Scale I Speech.920
Scale II: Sociability.836
Scale III: Sensory/Cognitive Awareness.875
Scale IV: Health/Physical/Behavior.815
Total ATEC Score.942

These are gratifyingly high reliabilities. So far, so good!

Score Distributions
The purpose of the ATEC is to measure change in an individual due to various interventions – that is – the difference between the initial (baseline) ATEC scores and later ATEC scores. Nevertheless, we are often asked for normative data, which permit comparison of one individual with others. Here are the score distributions. (The lower the scores, the better.)

Scale IScale IIScale IIIScale IV
Total Range:

Development of the ATEC.