Factor Analysis of the Social Responsiveness Scale among Indian School Children
Background: The conceptualization of autism has been under debate from the time of its identification, and recently the DSM-5 moved from a categorical to a dimensional classification of the disorder. The term Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP) is used to refer to individuals who have a cognitive and behavioural profile similar to those with ASD but to a milder degree below the threshold for a clinical diagnosis. Most research, with the exception of a few, have found a single factor solution during factor analysis of autistic traits indicating support for the diagnosis. Aim: To understand the underlying factors of autistic traits or BAP in the general population in school going children using the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS).
Method: 771 children, in the age range of 5-11 years, from mainstream schools across Bangalore City participated in the study, and parents were administered the SRS. This data was subjected to factor analysis.
Results: Exploratory factor analysis was carried out through Principal Axis Factoring and subjected to Direct oblimin rotation. We have chosen to focus on two factors based on the scree plot analysis having eigen values above two. These two factors explained nearly 22% of the variance. Within these two factors, we retained those items loading above .35. The first factor was left with 37 items mapping on to all the five subscales of the SRS. The second factor with nine items had items mapping onto 4 of the subscales but not mapping onto the subscale of autistic mannerisms. The second factor is intriguing but does not meet the criterion for a good factor.
Conclusion: This study confirms the universal observation of a single autism factor in the community, indicating non-dissociable components.