Greenspan's Social Emotional Growth Chart

Evaluating Greenspan's Social Emotional Growth Scale/Chart as a Screening for Autism
Devin Casenhiser, PhD, Cecilia Breinbauer, MD, MPH and Stanley Greenspan, MD

Using data provided by the Psychological Corporation, we conducted an analysis of 1,694 respondents who completed Greenspan's Social Emotional Growth Scale/Chart (SEGC) as part of the validation work of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (3rd Edition) in which the SEGC is included. While the manual produced by the Psychological Corporation suggests using a scaled score of 4 as the cutoff point for typical versus atypical social-emotional development, our analysis suggests that using a scaled score of 6 may be a more effective cutoff point since it gives an average sensitivity rating of .87 and an average specificity rating of .90 using the sample collected by the Psychological Corporation. We note, however, that although the specificity is based on an adequate sample size, the sensitivity is based on a small sample. We suggest further data should be collected to increase the validity of the sensitivity rating in terms of sample size. In addition, we suggest that the predictive and diagnostic power of the SEGC for children under 16 months of age could be further increased by including in the clinical sample young children with attachment disorders, and by conducting a longitudinal study of children later diagnosed with an ASD. Finally, we discuss the advantages of using a screening that is based on a staged, functional developmental model of typical social emotional and cognitive development rather than on isolated behaviors or symptoms.

  • Suggested Citation: Casenhiser D., Breinbauer C., Greenspan S.I. (2007). Evaluating Greenspan's Social Emotional Growth Scale/Chart as a screening for autism. Presented at The ICDL 11th Annual International Conference: Critical Factors for Optimal Outcomes for Children with Autism and Special Needs,  Tyson's Corner, VA, November 2007. 
  • Download SEGC PowerPoint: "A validated, norm-referenced screening of key social-emotional milestones in infants and young children from birth to 42 months of age" Presented at the ICDL 11th Annual International Conference, November 2007, by Cecilia Breinbauer, MD, MPH (ICDL), and Devin Casenhiser, PhD. (York University, Milton & Ethel Harris Research Initiative).

The SEGC is listed by The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC), Office of Special Education programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education, as one of the social-emotional screening instruments to be completed by families and other caregivers.

Ringwalt, S. (2008). Developmental Screening and Assessment Instruments with an emphasis on social and emotional development for young children ages birth through five. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development Institute, National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. Download Publication