Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Development of the Mental Synthesis Evaluation Checklist (MSEC): A Parent-Report Tool for Mental Synthesis Ability Assessment in Children with Language Delay

Version 1 : Received: 16 April 2018 / Approved: 16 April 2018 / Online: 16 April 2018 (16:27:16 CEST)

How to cite: Braverman, J.; Dunn, R.; Vyshedskiy, A. Development of the Mental Synthesis Evaluation Checklist (MSEC): A Parent-Report Tool for Mental Synthesis Ability Assessment in Children with Language Delay. Preprints 2018, 2018040216 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201804.0216.v1). Braverman, J.; Dunn, R.; Vyshedskiy, A. Development of the Mental Synthesis Evaluation Checklist (MSEC): A Parent-Report Tool for Mental Synthesis Ability Assessment in Children with Language Delay. Preprints 2018, 2018040216 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201804.0216.v1).

Abstract

Background: Mental synthesis is the conscious purposeful process of synthesizing a novel mental image from objects stored in memory. In our everyday use of language, we rely on mental synthesis to communicate an infinite number of images with a finite number of words. In typical children, the timeline of mental synthesis acquisition is highly correlated with an increasing vocabulary. Children with ASD, on the other hand, may learn hundreds of words but never acquire mental synthesis. In these individuals, tests assessing vocabulary comprehension may fail to demonstrate the profound deficit in mental synthesis and the resulting inability to understand flexible syntax and spatial prepositions. Objective: We developed a 20-question parent-reported evaluation tool designed to quantitatively assess mental synthesis ability and to serve as a complimentary scale for Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC). Results: Internal reliability was good (Cronbach’s alpha > .9), and the MSEC exhibited adequate test-retest reliability after a three- and nine-months follow up period. The MSEC results positively correlated with the ATEC communication subscale, providing support for construct validity. Moreover, MSEC scores were significantly different for children of different ASD severity levels confirming the known groups validity. Conclusions: This study represents the first step toward the development of an instrument to measure mental synthesis in children with ASD. Although the current empirical evaluation demonstrated strong evidence of excellent psychometric properties, such as validity and reliability, additional studies should be performed to replicate these findings.

Subject Areas

autism, ASD, psychological evaluations, ATEC, Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist, MSEC, language delay, developmental disorder, language therapy

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