International Meeting for Autism Research: Parental Self-Efficacy & Child Depression Predict Inflated Social Self-Perceptions in Adolescents with ASDs

Parental Self-Efficacy & Child Depression Predict Inflated Social Self-Perceptions in Adolescents with ASDs

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Franklin Hall B Level 4 (Philadelphia Marriott Downtown)
2:00 PM
M. L. Ransone , Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
M. D. Lerner , Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
A. Y. Mikami , Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Background: Although challenges in social functioning are central among youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), research suggests that youth with ASDs may overestimate their social competence relative to adult ratings (Lerner et al., 2009) – a phenomenon known as the Positive Illusory Bias (PIB; Owens et al., 2007). Depressive symptoms have been associated with lower self-perceived social competence among youth with ASDs (Vickerstaff et al., 2007) and less bias in these social self-perceptions (i.e., less PIB) among children with ADHD (Hoza et al., 2004). Moreover, parental self-efficacy may also influence PIB. Research has found that parents who report greater parenting competency rate their child as having higher social competence and fewer behavior problems (Mash & Johnston, 1983). Because children with better social skills (Hoza et al., 2000) and fewer behavior problems (Owens & Hoza, 2003) may be less likely to overestimate their social competence (thereby displaying PIB), there is reason to believe that parental self-efficacy may be associated with PIB among adolescents with ASDs. To our knowledge, the role of depression and parental self-efficacy in predicting PIB has not been investigated in ASD populations. We hypothesize that PIB will be present in adolescents with PIB, but that higher depression and maternal self-efficacy will predict lower PIB.

Objectives: 1. To replicate previous findings of PIB in this population. 2. To determine whether child depression and parent self-efficacy influence PIB.

Methods: Fifteen youth (11 – 22 years) with ASDs completed reports of their social skills (Social Skills Rating System – Child [SSRS-C]; Gresham & Elliott, 1990), and depression (Child Depression Inventory [CDI]; Kovacs, 1992), and their parents completed reports of child social skills (SSRS-Parent) and their own self-efficacy (Parental Self Efficacy Scale [PSES]; Bandura et al., 2001). PIB was calculated using standard score discrepancies between child and parent report SSRS.

Results: Preliminary analyses revealed that CDI and PSES were not significantly correlated (r = -.35, p = .17). Matched-sample t-tests revealed significantly higher child than parent report on the SSRS (t =2.67, p = .02), indicating the presence of PIB. We conducted a multiple regression analysis, showing that higher CDI (β = -.62; p = .01) and PSES (β = -.64, p = .01) scores independently predicted lower PIB when entered together as predictors on the same step; no interaction effect was found (p = .50).

Conclusions: In sum, PIB was found among adolescents with ASDs, though it was relatively lower for adolescents with higher levels of self-reported depression and parent-reported self-efficacy. These results suggest that adolescents with ASDs who have low levels of depression and parental self-efficacy may be especially likely to overestimate their social competence. Moreover, increases in adolescent depression and parental self-efficacy only predicted PIB when considered simultaneously, suggesting that they both contribute to the presentation of PIB. Given that PIB may impede children’s receptivity to social skills treatment (Mikami, Calhoun, & Abikoff, in press), results suggest that higher levels of parental self-efficacy may reduce that impediment, but that such a reduction may be accompanied by greater adolescent depression.

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