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Pervasive Developmental Behavior Inventory

Available from PAR


The Pervasive Developmental Disorder Behavior Inventory (PDDBI; Cohen & Sudhalter, 1999, 2005, 2017) is an individually-administered, norm-referenced instrument that was designed to measure response to intervention in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as to aid in diagnosis for clinical and research purposes. For children ages 18 months through 18 years, 5 months (adolescent normative data have recently been added), the PDDBI Parent and Teacher forms assesses both problem behaviors and appropriate social, language, and learning/memory skills. The extended set of items, which is available on both parent and teacher forms, is appropriate when assessing aspects of behavior that are not specifically associated with ASD (e.g., fear, aggression), as these may aid in treatment and placement decisions. Both teacher and parent rating forms are available with standard and extended formats, consisting of 124 or 180–188 items.

Problem behaviors measured via the PDDBI include stereotyped behaviors, fears, aggression, social interaction deficits, and aberrant language associated with children with PDD having lower or high-functioning skills. Two forms for the teacher and parent consist of six domains (the extended forms measure 10 domains): Approach/Withdrawal Problems, Sensory/Perceptual Approach, Ritualisms/Resistance to Change, Social Pragmatic Problems, Semantic Pragmatic Problems, Arousal Regulation Problems (extended form), Specific Fears (extended form), Aggressiveness (extended form), Receptive/Expressive Social Communication Abilities, Social Approach Behaviors, Expressive Language, Learning, Memory, and Receptive Language (extended form). Each item is rated on a Likert scale, from “Never” to “Often/Typically.” A screening version, the PDDBI-SV, was published by Cohen in 2011 and can be used to identify children 18 months to 12 ½ years who are at risk for identification with ASD; it is purchased separately from the PDDBI ( In 2017, Cohen published the PDD Autism Decision Tree (ASD-DT), which was designed to facilitate use of parent or teacher scores from the Extended Form to complete the branches of a decision tree that ultimately results in a diagnostic category. An algorithm is used to transform PDDBI scores into subgroups of ASD (Atypical ASD, Minimally Verbal ASD, or Verbal ASD) as well as non-ASD subgroups. Intervention suggestions and further recommendations are provided for all subgroups. The ASD-DT is designed to be used with individuals ages 1 year, 6 months to 12 years, 5 months. The PDDBI Parent Form has recently been translated into Spanish. Online administration and scoring are available through PARiConnect.


Age: 1 year 6 months to 12 year 5 months; up to 18 years 5 months with recent addition of adolescent normative data supplement

Time to Administer: 20-30 minutes (standard form); 30-45 minutes (extended form)

Method of Administration: Individually administered, norm-referenced measure of problem behaviors and appropriate social communication behaviors in ASD; Teacher and parent rating forms with standard and extended formats.

Yields T scores (M = 50, SD = 10), percentile ranks

Subscales: Overall Composite Score: Autism Composite
Maladaptive Composite Scores: Approach/Withdrawal Problems; Repetitive, Ritualistic, and Pragmatic
Adaptive Composite Scores: Expressive Social Communication Abilities and the Receptive/Expressive Social Communication Abilities
Maladaptive Subscale Scores: Sensory/Perceptual Approach Behaviors; Specific Fears; Arousal Problems; Aggressiveness or Behavior Problems; Social Pragmatic Problems; Semantic/Pragmatic Problems
Adaptive Subscale Scores: Social Approach Behaviors; Learning, Memory, and Receptive Language; Phonological Skills; Semantic/Pragmatic Ability

Autism Related Research

Schutte, Devlin, Richardson, Hill, & Hewitson (2019)

Age Range: 2-11 years

Sample Size: 104

Topics Addressed:

Comparison of PDDBI to the ADOS-2 (criterion-related validity)

Outcome:Schutte, Devlin, Richardson, Hill, & Hewitson (2019)

A positive relationship between the PDDBI Autism Composite and all ADOS-2 scores, as well as some subscale correlations, supported convergent validity of the PDDBI as a measure of ASD symptomatology. Additionally, a significant negative relationship between PDDBI adaptive subscales and ADOS-2 scores reinforced divergent validity. Conclusion: The results of this study provide further support for the validity of the PDDBI as a measure of ASD symptoms for research and clinical purposes.

Cohen & Flory (2019)

Age Range: 1:6-6:9 years

Sample Size: 110

Topics Addressed:

Examine PDDBI profiles and trajectories

Outcome:Cohen & Flory (2019)

Three behaviorally distinct ASD subgroups (minimally verbal, verbal, and atypical) identified through the ASD-DT differed in PDDBI profiles and in factors previously reported to be predictors of autism severity and adaptive behavior trajectories. Current study results confirmed predictions that each subgroup had distinct trajectories that varied with the type of adaptive behavior assessed.

Conclusion: the ASD-DT has prognostic value that could be helpful for both clinical and research applications. Independent replication is an important next step.

Cohen et al. (2016)

Age Range: 1:6-13:0 years

Sample Size: 660

Topics Addressed:

Development of diagnostic algorithm to maximize sensitivity and specificity for use as level 2 screener

Outcome:Cohen et al. (2016)

To improve discrimination accuracy between ASD and similar neurodevelopmental disorders, a data mining rocedure, Classification and Regression Trees (CART), was used on a large multi-site sample of PDDBI forms on children with and without ASD. Discrimination accuracy exceeded 80 %, generalized to an independent validation set, and generalized across age groups and sites, and agreed well with ADOS classifications. Parent PDDBIs yielded better results than teacher PDDBIs but, when CART predictions agreed across informants, sensitivity increased. Results also revealed three subtypes of ASD: minimally verbal, verbal, and atypical; and two, relatively common subtypes of non-ASD children: social pragmatic problems and good social skills.

Conclusion: results are promising and support the use of a decision tree algorithm such as CART to benefit discrimination of disorders with overlapping features, and to identify clinically and research relevant subgroups.

McMorris & Perry (2014)

Age Range: 3–7 years

Sample Size: 40

Topics Addressed:

Criterion-related validity

Outcome:McMorris & Perry (2014)

Results were mixed. Moderately significant correlations were found between the PDDBI and Vineland-II maladaptive scores; however, poor convergent validity was found when examining the low correlations between sections of the PDDBI and the CARS.

Conclusion: results lead to concerns regarding the validity of some scores of the Pervasive Developmental Disorder Behavior Inventory.

Reel, Lecavalier, Butter, & Mulick (2012)

Age Range: 3–12 years

Sample Size: 84

Topics Addressed:

Diagnostic utility of PDDBI

Outcome:Reel, Lecavalier, Butter, & Mulick (2012)

Forty-two children with ASD were individually matched on age and non-verbal IQ to 42 children with other disabilities and groups were compared on PDDBI subscales and total score. More than 50% of the non-ASD sample received scores suggestive of ASD. Results indicated that the groups differed on the total score and on only one of the 14 subscales. Optimal sensitivity and specificity were achieved using a cutoff score of 45 on the Autism Composite T-score. Diagnostic accuracy was not good (sensitivity = .74, specificity = .62, efficiency = .68), but better in individuals with NVIQ < 70.

Conclusion: the PDDBI for diagnostic screening is NOT recommended.

Cohen, Schmidt-Lackner, Romanczyk, & Sudhalter (2003)

Age Range: 1-7 years

Sample Size: 311

Topics Addressed:

Psychometric properties of PDDBI

Outcome:Cohen, Schmidt-Lackner, Romanczyk, & Sudhalter (2003)

The inventory was found to have a high degree of internal consistency. Interrater reliability was better for adaptive behaviors than for maladaptive behaviors. Factor analyses confirmed the structure of the PDDBI and indicated good construct validity. In a subsample of children 3-6 years old, raw scores for adaptive behaviors increased with age in parent and teacher versions, as did measures of social pragmatic problems.

Conclusion: the PDDBI is both reliable and valid and is useful in providing information not typically available in most instruments to assess children with pervasive developmental disorders (e.g., ASD).