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Application of symbolic play test in identification of autism spectrum disorder without global developmental delay and developmental language disorder

BMC Psychiatry. 2023 Mar 6;23(1):138. doi: 10.1186/s12888-023-04647-6.


BACKGROUND: Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) usually experience difficulty regarding symbolic play. However, studies on whether symbolic play test (SPT) can differentiate between ASD and other developmental disorders are inconsistent, and evaluating the application value of the SPT in the identification of ASD without global developmental delay (GDD) and developmental language disorder (DLD) is necessary.

METHODS: A total of 200 children were selected as the research participants. There were 100 cases of ASD without GDD and 100 cases of DLD. All children were tested by SPT and Children Neuropsychological and Behavioral Scale-Revision (CNBS-R2016). Binomial logistic regression was used for multivariate analysis. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was used to evaluate the value of SPT in identifying ASD without GDD and DLD.

RESULTS: SPT equivalent age was lower than chronological age in the two groups, the difference between the ASD without GDD group was greater than that in the DLD group, and the proportion of SPT equivalent age retardation was higher than that in the DLD group; the differences were statistically significant. Logistic regression analysis showed that there was a difference in SPT equivalent age between DLD and ASD without GDD. When the cut-off value of the SPT was 8.5, the largest area under the ROC curve was 0.723, and the sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of ASD without GDD were 0.720 and 0.620 respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Symbolic play ability in ASD children is worse than that of DLD children at comparable development levels. SPT may be helpful to distinguish ASD without GDD from children with DLD.

PMID:36879230 | DOI:10.1186/s12888-023-04647-6

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