Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Director

Jennifer Kidd

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh

Committee Member

Jonna Bobzien


The purpose of this dissertation is to analyze the latent factor structure underlying the Ellis Functional Assessment (EFA) for children with high-functioning autism (HFA), to compare the latent factor structures for under-identified subgroups of children (older children, gifted children, female children), and to design a pre-screening assessment for HFA based on those results. The scope of the study is limited to children who have been identified as having HFA and whose parents completed the EFA while patients of a mid-Atlantic clinical practice specializing in autism spectrum disorders. The methodology uses preliminary factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis to both analyze the data from seven years of clinical practice and develop a new pre-screening assessment. Findings help to explain differences and commonalities between the under-identified subgroups with HFA and the rest of the HFA population. The largest limitation to this study is the sample size (n = 380) which though large for an autism study, is small for the use of preliminary factor analysis relative to the number of items contained in the EFA. This study supports prior research identifying differences between the under-identified subgroups and the identified population with HFA and contributes additional possible identifying differences. This study also develops a potential pre-screening assessment for HFA that is sensitive to under-identified subgroups, reflects the factor structure of the Ellis Functional Assessment, conforms to DSM-V, and has excellent internal reliability.


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