Characterizing the ASD–ADHD phenotype: measurement structure and invariance in a clinical sample Academic Article uri icon

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  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have considerable overlap, supporting the need for a dimensional framework that examines neurodevelopmental domains which cross traditional diagnostic boundaries. In the following study, we use factor analysis to deconstruct the ASD-ADHD phenotype into its underlying phenotypic domains and test for measurement invariance across adaptive functioning, age, gender and ASD/ADHD clinical diagnoses. Participants included children and youth (aged 3-20 years) with a clinical diagnosis of ASD (n = 727) or ADHD (n = 770) for a total of 1,497 participants. Parents of these children completed the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ), a measure of autism symptoms, and the Strengths and Weaknesses of ADHD and Normal Behaviour (SWAN) questionnaire, a measure of ADHD symptoms. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was performed on combined SCQ and SWAN items. This was followed by a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and tests of measurement invariance. EFA revealed a four-factor solution (inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, social-communication, and restricted, repetitive, behaviours and interests (RRBI)) and a CFA confirmed good model fit. This solution also showed good model fit across subgroups of interest. Our study shows that a combined ASD-ADHD phenotype is characterized by two latent ASD domains (social communication and RRBIs) and two latent ADHD domains (inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity). We established measurement invariance of the derived measurement model across adaptive functioning, age, gender and ASD/ADHD diagnoses.


  • Krakowski, Aneta D
  • Cost, Katherine Tombeau
  • Szatmari, Peter
  • Anagnostou, Evdokia
  • Crosbie, Jennifer
  • Schachar, Russell
  • Duku, Eric
  • Georgiades, Stelios
  • Ayub, Muhammad
  • Kelley, Elizabeth
  • Nicolson, Rob
  • Pullenayegum, Eleanor
  • Barnett‐Tapia, Carolina

publication date

  • March 27, 2022