Depression and its measurement in verbal adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder

Katherine Gotham, Kathryn Unruh, Catherine Lord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


In a sample of 50 verbally fluent adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders (age: 16-31 years; verbal IQ: 72-140), we examined the pattern of response and associations between scores on common measures of depressive symptoms, participant characteristics, and clinical diagnosis of depressive disorders. Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition item descriptives in this autism spectrum disorder sample were compared to previously published data from a large typically developing sample, with results suggesting that cognitive-attributional symptoms of depression may be particularly prevalent in autism spectrum disorder. Scores on a variety of self- and parent-report depression measures were not associated with chronological age or verbal IQ, and were relatively highly correlated with each other and with clinical diagnosis of a mood disorder. The Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition and the Adult Self-Report "Depressive" scale best identified both depressed and non-depressed participants in this sample, though neither was particularly strong. Validation studies of depression measures in the autism spectrum disorder population are necessary to advance research into this prevalent and impairing comorbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-504
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 22 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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