Szarko, J. E. (2000). Familiar versus unfamiliar examiners: The effects on the testing performance and behaviors of children with autism and related developmental disabilities (Publication No. 9966904) [Doctoral dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. https://www.proquest.com/docview/304614068
The Pennsylvania State University (Centre County, PA); ProQuest document ID: 304614068
The children in the treatment group were tested by familiar examiners, and the children in the control group were tested by unfamiliar examiners. For those tested by familiar examiners, the examiner spent time with the children before testing began until all of the pre-determined behaviors that researchers designated as constituting familiarity were observed.
Twenty-six children diagnosed with autism or atypical pervasive developmental disorders, ranging in age from 48 to 88 months, comprised the sample, from schools in a public school district in Richmond, Virginia (U.S.). The children were matched by age, severity of autism, and estimated developmental level. The students were tested by six volunteers, four of whom were undergraduate students in psychology, and two of whom were graduate students in psychology.
The cognitive subtests of the Psychoeducational Profile-Revised (PEP-R) was administered to both groups. All participants were administered the same subtests. Examiners tested each child individually and the test sessions were video-taped. Independent observers coded the video-tapes and recorded the number of prompts, refusals, and stereotypical behaviors that occurred during testing.
A significant difference between groups on the Cognitive Verbal and Performance subscales of the PEP-R was observed. A significant difference in stereotypic behaviors was also observed between the two groups. In this study, examiner familiarity had significant positive effects on the behavior and testing performance of children with autism.