The GARS-3 Explained

Another day, another psychological assessment with a complicated acronym. Today, let’s look at the GARS-3 and talk about its function, its effectiveness, and how it is administered. First and foremost, the GARS-3 is an acronym for the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale. The ‘3’ simply means it is the third edition. The psychological community is always making improvements to its assessments so they routinely make changes and update the edition number of the assessment. The GARS-3 is designed to help teachers, parents, and clinicians not only recognise autism, but also estimate its severity. As an assessment, it has proven to have a high rate of validity and reliability which makes it highly utilised in the psychology field.

The GARS-3 consists of 56 items. These items are to describe the behaviours of the individual being assessed. These 56 items consist of subscales examining things like; restrictive/ repetitive behaviours, social interactions, social communications, emotional responses, cognitive style, as well as maladaptive speech.

It is a relatively short and easy to score assessment, which is a huge benefit because teachers, and other caregivers contribute to this assessment. These questions may require the person completing the assessment to observe whether a behaviour is present within a time frame or may ask developmental questions about the child. Having the caregivers and/parents complete the assessment provides pros and cons to the assessment, as even parents and caregivers may have inherent biases or struggle to remember details of developmental milestones.

The GARS-3 is based off the diagnostic material listed in the DSM-V, the diagnostic manual used to diagnose autism, but while it may provide valuable information about an individual’s behaviours it should not be used as the sole determination of autism. Working closely with a psychologist and discussing your comfort level with the assessment, as well as discussing external factors that may impact a child’s behaviour is important in preventing misdiagnosis.

Raising a child exhibiting behavioural difficulties can be challenging and it is important to utilise support around you. A psychologist can not only assist with a diagnosis, but can also provide you helpful tools that can aid your family into a better way of living. To book in a time to speak to a psychologist contact us on (02) 6262 6157 or book an appointment online.

Related reading:

Does my Child need an Assessment or Therapy?
Can a Psychologist “Fix” my Child?
Diagnosed: The Benefits in receiving a DSM-5 Diagnosis

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