Center for Autism & the Developing Brain

Center for Autism & the Developing Brain

Research & Diagnostic Instruments

ADOS Diagnostic Instrument

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)

Catherine Lord, Ph.D., Michael Rutter, M.D., F.R.S., Pamela DiLavore, Ph.D., and Susan Risi, Ph.D.

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS: WPS Version; Lord, Rutter, DiLavore, Risi, 1999) is a standardized observation designed to assess behaviors related to autism or autistic spectrum disorders (see also Lord et al., 2000). Previous versions of the ADOS (Lord, Rutter, & Goode, 1989) and the Pre-Linguistic Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (PL-ADOS: DiLavore, Lord, & Rutter, 1995) have been combined into this single instrument.

The ADOS is a semi-structured, standardized assessment of communication, social interaction, and play or imaginative use of materials for individuals who have been referred because of possible autism or an autistic spectrum disorders. The ADOS can be used to evaluate individuals at different developmental levels and chronological ages, from toddlers to adults, from individuals with no speech to those who are verbally fluent.

The goal of the ADOS is to provide standardized information concerning the diagnosis of autism in the areas of social behavior, use of vocalizations/speech and gesture in social situations, and play and interests. Structured activities and materials provide standard contexts in which social interactions, communication, and other behaviors relevant to autistic spectrum disorders are observed. Inter-rater and test-retest reliability, as well as internal validity, have been demonstrated for the ADOS. The ADOS and its previous versions, including the PL-ADOS and ADOS-G, have been widely used in research and in academic centers.

The ADOS should be used by professionals who are very familiar with autistic spectrum disorders and who have experience in clinical assessment of individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, such as physicians, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists who evaluate and treat children with autism or autism spectrum disorders. The examiner's clinical skills and experience with the ADOS are crucial to administration. Clinicians interested in using the ADOS for clinical or school assessment purposes are encouraged to attend an ADOS Training for Clinicians through CADB or Western Psychological Services (WPS). WPS also has a training package with videotapes available for this purpose. For research purposes, examiners must attend an ADOS Training for Clinicians, followed by an ADOS Research Training, and obtain reliability with the CADB lab or another approved group.

Individuals interested in purchasing ADOS materials should contact Western Psychological Services. Drs. Catherine Lord and Susan Risi, along with the other authors of the ADOS, receive royalties when people purchase ADOS materials.

More information on ADOS Training Workshops.

NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center