Social Communication Questionnaire: Questions, General Description, Uses and Limitations

What is the Social Communication Questionnaire?

Social Communication Questionnaire is a 40 survey question set that was earlier known as autism screening questionnaire. This screening questionnaire measures the degree of autism spectrum disorder. A definitive research diagnosis of autism can be made by a seasoned therapist using the social communication questionnaire.

This questionnaire is designed carefully asking only close-ended questions that the respondents need to reply in either a “Yes” or a “No”. The set of 40 questions are constant and usually, the parents are needed to fill out the questionnaire. It takes less than 10 minutes to fill it out and can be scored by the administrator in less than 5 minutes.

The social communication questionnaire was previously designed as an ad hoc survey as a measure for the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R). The original questionnaire had 93 items and took a good 2 hours to complete and was much more complicated and cumbersome as compared to the new one.

The social communication questionnaire is duly filled in by the principal caregiver who is the most familiar with the earlier developmental history and the current advancements in the behavior of the individual who is assessed. This survey is applicable to any individual whose physical age is 4 years and subsequent mental age is at least 2 years.

No professional help is required to fill in this questionnaire, the primary caregiver may be given the necessary instructions required to complete the social communication questionnaire. But the parent(s) can respond to this survey without any direct supervision. Once the SCQ is duly filled in here is where supervision in analyzing the key results will be needed and an individual who has professional training.

Social Communication Questionnaire: 40 Key Questions

A typical social communication questionnaire has 40 items, that the parents of the individual being screened need to fill out. The formal screening questionnaire is designed to determine whether the individual will need any further evaluation or not. The questions are a simple yes/no and based on the responses obtained the evaluation is conducted by a trained professional.

 Questions Yes No
1 Poor eyes contact and tilting of the head at a certain angle
2 Does your child respondent when called by his/her name
3 Scared of loud noise like vacuum cleaner or if someone speaks loudly
4 Is usually aloof and likes being left alone
5 Lack of curiosity
6 Facial expressions and situation is never in tandem
7 Gets hyperactive, angry, screams, yells often
8 Ignores pain
9 Doesn’t like to be touched
10 Is very sensitive to the crowd like difficulties in restaurants and supermarkets
11 Inappropriate emotions when in conversation
12 Extreme joy when sees the parents
13 Lack of ability to imitate words and sentences
14 Loss of acquired speech
15 Makes unusual noises
16 A voice louder than usually required
17 Gets really irritable when denied something
18 Monotonous speech
19 Frequently speaks gibberish or uses jargons
20 Difficulty in expressing needs or desires
21 Is very difficult to communicate with when angry
22 Uses words, phrases etc. inappropriately
23 Can’t remember words or sentences taught
24 Difficulty in understanding basic instructions
25 Bangs head very often
26 Is self-harming in anger
27 Clumsy body posture
28 Drools while talking
29 Cannot arrange toys properly
30 Is unsure of smell, color, speed, distance etc.
31 Has special interest in toy parts
32 Spinning objects or self
33 Restricted interest
34 Obsessed with his/her toys
35 Attachement to unsual objects
36 Restricted skill set as compared to children of similar age
37 Is a slow learner
38 Cannot adjust to multiple instructions
39 Can’t keep pace in a conversation
40 Needs parents assistance to do basic things like drink water

Main Uses of the Social Communication Questionnaire

  1. The SCQ provides a dimensional measure and the cutoff score can be used to understand if an individual has an ASD.
  2. This questionnaire is used as a screening device in order to evaluate individuals who need better care and clinical observation pertaining to their condition.
  3. Depending on the score the primary caregiver or parents can understand a detailed clinical assessment of a child whose score is just below the cut-off score.
  4. Scores obtained through filling in the questionnaire can be used to keep a comparative analysis for any further research or study related to the individual.
  5. The scores obtained can be used as an indication of the approximate level of severity of ASD in an individual.

Limitations of the Social Communication Questionnaire

  1. SCQ is not suitable for individual diagnosis. This is because diagnosis requires an optimum amount of information of onset, development of the condition and specificity of the symptoms. This cannot be obtained immediately after the screening.
  2. Caregivers reports need to be confirmed with direct clinical observations. Individuals responses are based on their judgment.
  3. It should be noted that SCQ is not suitable for children below the age of 2 years. Children at this stage are still in their developmental phase and might show signs of changes or severe clinical abnormalities.