The Relationship Between Social Skill Deficits and Comorbidity Among Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Saturday, May 19, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
11:00 AM
A. Pulido M.A.1,2, C. White3, R. Hodges4 and A. J. Lincoln5, (1)Alliant International University , San Diego, CA, (2)Center for Autism Research and Evaluation, San Diego, CA, (3)Center for Autism Research Evaluation and Service, San Diego, CA, (4)CARES, San Diego, CA, United States, (5)Alliant International University;Center for Autism Research, Evaluation and Service, San Diego, CA, United States
Background: Social skills deficits continue to be an impacting characteristic of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Woodruff, 2011). Studies indicate adolescents who have a single diagnosis of an anxiety disorder tend to have great deficits in social skills but very little research has examined the social deficits among adolescents with ASD and comorbid diagnosis (Erath, Flanagan, & Bierman 2011). Recent literature indicates seventy percent of adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have at least one comorbid diagnosis and have increased symptoms of anxiety and depression (Simonoff et al., 2011). A single diagnosis of ASD may pose its own difficulties for teens with ASD and can further complicate social functioning and treatment when an adolescent receives multiple diagnosis. It is important for clinicians and researchers who are implementing social skills training to consider the effects of comorbid diagnosis and symptoms when treating adolescents with ASD.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of comorbid diagnosis and increased internalizing symptoms among adolescents with ASD and the impact it places on an adolescents social skills.   

Methods: Adolescent participants are part of The Program for the Evaluation and Enrichment of Relations Skills (PEERS) which is a manualized parent-assisted social skills training for teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder conducted by the Center for Autism Research and Evaluation (CARES). Prior to treatment the participants and parents will be completing questionnaires regarding symptoms, current diagnosis and social skills.

Results:  Data is currently being collected which examine current diagnosis, internalizing symptoms and social skills. It is hypothesized that adolescents with increased symptoms of anxiety and depression will have the greatest impact in social skills. Additionally, it is predicted that adolescents who have a greater number of comorbid diagnosis will have an increased deficit in social skills when compared to peers who have lower rates of comorbid diagnosis.

Conclusions: Conclusions will be reported when data collection is complete.

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