Title: When Peers Matter Most: Adolescent Social Skills Across ASD, ADHD, and ID Symptom Groups
Background: Poor social skills in adolescence are related to a range of problems including delinquency, poor academic performance, and mental health problems. While social deficits are known to be significantly impairing for adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Intellectual Disabilities (ID), no known research has yet to compare differences in social functioning among these groups.
Objectives: The first objective of this study is to compare the social skills of early adolescents with ASD, ADHD, and ID with adolescents with typical development (TD). The second objective of this study is to compare predictors of social skills across symptom groups. Possible predictors include inattention, externalizing behavior, and anxiety. The third objective is to investigate friendship quality as an outcome variable.
Methods: Parent ratings of social behavior from the Social Skills Rating System (Gresham & Elliott, 1990) were compared across symptom groups for adolescents with ASD (n=43), ADHD (n=14), ID (n=29) and TD (n=67). Data was analyzed from UCLA’s Collaborative Family Study, a longitudinal study of children with and without intellectual disability and their families, and the UCLA PEERS Program, an evidence-based social skills intervention for adolescents. Predictors of social functioning (anxiety, externalizing behavior, and inattention) and the outcome variable of friendship quality were also examined.
Results: Data was analyzed by one-way ANOVAs. Preliminary results suggest several significant differences between groups in overall social functioning on the SSRS and its subscales. In general, adolescents with ID and TD tend to score higher on social functioning than adolescents with ASD and ADHD. Adolescents with TD had higher overall social functioning and higher levels of assertion and self-control as compared to the three symptom groups (p<.001). In the area of problem behaviors, however, both adolescents with ID and TD were reported to have significantly fewer problems than adolescents with ASD and ADHD (p<.05). The subscales of cooperation and responsibility also showed a trend for higher functioning among adolescents with ID and TD as compared to adolescents with ASD and ADHD. Results of the predictor variables are forthcoming and are expected to reveal lower social functioning as a result of anxiety, externalizing behavior, and inattention. We also expect social skills scores to be a positive predictor of friendship quality across groups.
Conclusions: Preliminary results suggest that adolescents with TD exhibit better social functioning overall than adolescents with ASD, ADHD, and ID. However, when behavior problems are considered, the TD and ID groups are functioning better than adolescents with ASD and ADHD. This suggests a possible behavioral regulation deficit in adolescents with ASD and ADHD that may have a lesser effect for adolescents with ID. Further commonalities and differences across disabilities will be discussed. Recommendations for how these findings might inform future interventions will be highlighted.
See more of: Core Deficits and Symptoms
See more of: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Phenotype