Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Jessica Glass Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D, Chairperson

Second Advisor

George McCloskey, PhD

Third Advisor

James Whitaker, PsyD


Autism screening tools have not traditionally been developed for use in an urban setting with students of minority status or from a low SES home. Scales have also traditionally lacked a focus on school behaviors. The Social Communication Screener for Schools (SCSS) was developed in order to assist school psychologists in an urban school setting in referring students who, following a full evaluation, were most likely to qualify for an educational diagnosis of Autism. The goal of the scale was to focus on using teacher ratings of language-based behaviors in the school setting to assess behaviors linked with Autism. The SCSS was analyzed in terms of internal consistency and overall sensitivity and specificity. The scale was revised according to initial exploratory analysis. Updated scales were developed and analyzed for specificity and sensitivity according to data-based decision rules. Results of the final analysis indicate the SCSS reached high levels of sensitivity for both age groups analyzed (7 and younger; 8 and older).