Checklists are standardized questionnaires that list a wide variety of behaviors that children engage in. Many parents are alarmed when their doctor relies on a behavior checklist in diagnosing Asperger’s Disorder. While this should not be the sole source of information, the checklists can be a very useful diagnostic tool. While it is quick for parents to fill out and quick for doctors to score and interpret, years of research have gone on behind the scenes to develop these checklists and make them useful.
Here’s how they work. Researchers provide a lengthy list of behaviors that children engage in. They find very large groups of parents to complete the questionnaires. By having thousands of parents who have children free of problems complete the questionnaires, the researchers are able to see what so-called normal children look like in terms of mood and behavior.
By having thousands of parents whose children have disorders complete the checklists, they are able to see how children with a variety of problems appear on the checklist. Your child’s test scores are examined to see if he more closely matches the “normal” group or the Asperger’s group. Your child’s scores will also be compared to other disordered groups such as the depressed, anxious, hyperactive, inattentive, aggressive, and socially problematic groups.