Use of a video scoring anchor for rapid serial assessment of social communication in toddlers

Natasha Marrus, Stefanie Kennon-McGill, Brooke Harris, Yi Zhang, Anne L. Glowinski, John N. Constantino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Reciprocal social behavior (RSB), an early-emerging capacity to engage in social contingency—which is foundational for both social learning and social competency—is hypothesized to be disrupted in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The ability to quantify the full range of RSB during the toddler period, when core symptoms of ASD often arise, is pivotal for evaluating early risk for ASD, characterizing social development, and tracking response to early interventions. However, important parameters of variation in RSB—especially prior to the development of verbal language—can be nuanced and difficult to characterize using questionnaire-based methods. To address this challenge, we developed a system for measuring quantitative variation in RSB in toddlers (ages 18 - 30 months) that incorporated not only standard questionnaire data from caregivers but also a novel set of video-referenced items, through which a respondent compares the behavior of a subject to that observed in a short video of a young child manifesting a highly competent level of social communication. Testing of this measure in a general population sample of twins confirmed that both the video-referenced items and the RSB Total Score (video-referenced items plus non-video-referenced items) displayed unimodal, continuous distributions, strong internal consistency, marked preservation of individual differences, and extremely high heritability. In addition, video-referenced items were particularly sensitive to quantifying incremental changes in social communication, a major element of RSB, over the course of early childhood development. Scores on the vrRSB clearly differentiated children with and without ASD and these data comprise an initial validation of this promising method for quantifying early RSB—cross-sectionally, over time, and as a function of early intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57041
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number133
StatePublished - Mar 14 2018


  • Autism
  • Behavior
  • Issue 133
  • Reciprocal Social Behavior
  • Social Communication
  • Toddler
  • Video
  • Video-Referenced


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