Toward culturally-appropriate communication assessment for Indigenous Australian children with autism

Kathleen Tait*, Jessica Wilson, Jeff Sigafoos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We sought to determine if the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS)—a tool developed to assess the communication, speech, and language development of Indigenous Australian children—might be applicable to Indigenous Australian children with autism. A HATS assessment was completed with four Indigenous Australian children. The children were aged 3–5 years and had been diagnosed with autism. The results were compared to scores from the Receptive-Expressive Emergent Language Scale (REEL-4), which is a standardised, norm-referenced assessment of expressive and receptive language development. The children’s early childhood teachers served as informants. Both the HATS and REEL-4 identified varying degrees of communication impairment suggesting that their combined use may represent a culturally appropriate and feasible communication assessment strategy. Future research into the reliability and validity of the HATS for assessing the communicative functioning of young Indigenous Australian children with autism or other types of developmental disabilities or delay is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalResearch and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Feb 2024


  • autism
  • communication assessment
  • culturally appropriate assessment
  • Indigenous Australian children
  • intellectual disabilities


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