Free Download of the CARS2: A Clinician's Tool for Assessing Autism Spectrum Disorder
What is the CARS Autism Rating Scale and How to Download it for Free
If you are a parent, teacher, or professional who works with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may have heard of the CARS autism rating scale. This is a tool that can help you identify and assess the severity of autistic behaviors in children. But what exactly is the CARS autism rating scale, how does it work, and where can you download it for free? In this article, we will answer these questions and more.
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects how a person communicates, interacts, and behaves with others. ASD can cause challenges in social skills, language, learning, and daily functioning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 54 children in the United States have ASD.
Diagnosing ASD can be difficult, as there is no single test or biomarker that can confirm it. Instead, ASD diagnosis relies on a combination of behavioral observations, developmental screenings, and comprehensive evaluations by trained professionals. One of the tools that can be used in this process is the CARS autism rating scale.
What is the CARS autism rating scale and how does it work?
The Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) is a 15-item behavioral rating scale developed by Eric Schopler and colleagues in 1980. It is designed to identify children with ASD and to categorize their behaviors from mild to moderate to severe.
The CARS autism rating scale is based on five prominent systems for diagnosing ASD: Kanner's criteria, DSM-III criteria, Ritvo-Freeman Real Life Rating Scale, Behavior Summarized Evaluation Scale, and Gesell's developmental schedules. Each item covers a particular characteristic, ability, or behavior that is associated with ASD, such as:
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Relating to people
Adaptation to change
Taste, smell, and touch response
Fear or nervousness
Level and consistency of intellectual response
The CARS autism rating scale can be used by professionals who have had exposure and training in ASD after direct observation of the child or from information gathered from parents or caregivers. The items are rated on a 4-point scale from 1 (normal) to 4 (severely abnormal), with half-point increments allowed. The total score ranges from 15 to 60, with higher scores indicating more severe autistic behaviors.
What are the benefits and limitations of using the CARS autism rating scale?
The CARS autism rating scale has been widely used in clinical and research settings for over four decades. It has been translated into several languages and validated in different populations. Some of the benefits of using the CARS autism rating scale are:
It is relatively easy and quick to administer and score.
It can be used with children of any age and developmental level.
It has good reliability and validity as a measure of ASD severity.
It can help differentiate ASD from other developmental disorders.
However, the CARS autism rating scale also has some limitations that should be considered before using it. Some of the limitations are:
It is not a diagnostic tool by itself and should not replace a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified professional.
It may not capture the full range and diversity of ASD symptoms and behaviors, especially in high-functioning individuals.
It may be influenced by subjective judgments and cultural biases of the raters.
It may not reflect the current diagnostic criteria and standards for ASD, such as the DSM-5 or the ICD-11.
Therefore, the CARS autism rating scale should be used with caution and in conjunction with other sources of information, such as developmental history, medical records, standardized tests, and interviews with parents or caregivers.
How to download the CARS autism rating scale for free
If you are interested in using the CARS autism rating scale for your child or student, you may be wondering where to find it and how to use it. The good news is that you can download the CARS autism rating scale for free from several online sources. Here are some of them:
The Autism Society of North Carolina
A PDF file of the CARS autism rating scale with instructions and scoring guidelines.
The Autism Research Institute
A PDF file of the CARS autism rating scale with a brief introduction and scoring examples.
The University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center
A PDF file of the CARS autism rating scale with a summary and references.
The University of Washington Autism Center
A PDF file of the CARS autism rating scale with a detailed explanation and scoring criteria.
The Western Psychological Services
A sample report of the CARS autism rating scale with a case study and interpretation.
How to use the CARS autism rating scale correctly and ethically
Before you use the CARS autism rating scale, you should be aware of some important guidelines and ethical considerations. Here are some of them:
You should have adequate training and experience in ASD assessment and intervention before using the CARS autism rating scale.
You should obtain informed consent from the parents or guardians of the child before using the CARS autism rating scale.
You should observe the child in a natural setting for at least 30 minutes before rating the items on the CARS autism rating scale.
You should rate each item based on your direct observation or reliable information from parents or caregivers, not on assumptions or stereotypes.
You should use the most recent version of the CARS autism rating scale (CARS-2) that has been updated to reflect the current diagnostic criteria and standards for ASD.
You should not use the CARS autism rating scale as a sole basis for diagnosing ASD or determining eligibility for services or interventions.
You should respect the confidentiality and privacy of the child and their family when using and reporting the results of the CARS autism rating scale.
You should provide feedback and recommendations to the parents or caregivers based on the results of the CARS autism rating scale in a sensitive and supportive manner.
How to interpret and report the results of the CARS autism rating scale
After you have completed and scored the CARS autism rating scale, you may wonder what the results mean and how to report them. Here are some tips to help you interpret and report the results of the CARS autism rating scale:
The total score of the CARS autism rating scale can be used to classify the child's ASD severity into four categories: non-autistic (15-29.5), mildly manner.
If you want to download the CARS autism rating scale for free, you can find it online from several sources, such as the Autism Society of North Carolina, the Autism Research Institute, the Universit