Estimating the level of functional ability of children identified as likely to have an intellectual disability

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Murray, Aja Louise ; McKenzie, Karen ; Booth, Tom ; Murray, George (2013)

Screening tools can provide an indication of whether a child may have an intellectual disability (ID). Item response theory (IRT) analyses can be used to assess whether the statistical properties of the tools are such that their utility extends beyond their use as a screen for ID. We used non-parametric IRT scaling analyses to investigate whether the Child and Adolescent Intellectual Disability Screening Questionnaire (CAIDS-Q) possessed the statistical properties that would suggest its use could be extended to estimate levels of functional ability and to estimate which (if any) features associated with intellectual impairment are consistently indicative of lower or higher levels of functional ability. The validity of the two proposed applications was assessed by evaluating whether the CAIDS-Q conformed to the properties of the Monotone Homogeneity Model (MHM), characterised by uni-dimensionality, local independence and latent monotonicity and the Double Monotone Model (DMM), characterised by the assumptions of the MHM and, in addition, of non-intersecting item response functions. We analysed these models using CAIDS-Q data from 319 people referred to child clinical services. Of these, 148 had a diagnosis of ID. The CAIDS-Q was found to conform to the properties of the MHM but not the DMM. In practice, this means that the CAIDS-Q total scores can be used to quickly estimate the level of a person's functional ability. However, items of the CAIDS-Q did not show invariant item ordering, precluding the use of individual items in isolation as accurate indices of a person's level of functional ability.
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