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Researchers call for open access to autism diagnostic tools

Western Psychological Services, a publishing company based in Los Angeles, owns many of the common autism screening and diagnostic instruments. These include the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), a widely used screening questionnaire that Constantino developed, as well as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), often referred to as the gold-standard tests for diagnosis of the disorder.

Each time one of these tests is administered, the publisher charges a fee, and passes a portion of the royalties on to the test’s developers.

“I don’t think there’s any other condition in medicine in which you have to pay a royalty to a publishing company in order to make the diagnosis,” says David Skuse, professor of behavioral and brain sciences at University College London. Skuse has helped develop two freely available tools, the Social and Communication Disorders Checklist (SCDC) and the developmental, dimensional and diagnostic interview (3di).

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