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Self-Perception of Competencies in Adolescents with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Saturday, 4 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
R. Furlano, E. A. Kelley, E. Ladwig, L. Hall and D. E. Wilson, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada
Background: The positive illusory bias is the disparity between self-report of competence and actual competence, such that an individual’s self-reported competence is substantially higher than their actual competence. Children with ADHD strongly overestimate their competency relative to external indices such as adult report or actual performance. This overestimation has been linked to conduct problems and aggression over time. A similar bias has also been found in ASD. Individuals with ASD have been found to self-report greater levels of social competence compared to parental-reports and underestimate their autism-related symptoms. Studies have examined self-perceptions by comparing higher-order global questionnaires, to parental reports. There may be problems with this methodology due to parental biases and the difficulty that individuals with ASD have with higher-order concepts and mental states. 

Objectives: To extend research on the self-perceptions held by atypical populations by using performance on a specific task as the basis for ratings, rather than a more global measure of overall competency. The study also examines how IQ and executive functioning relate to self-perceptions.

Methods:  We anticipate 40 participants, aged 11-18 years, in each of the groups; typical controls, ADHD and ASD (N = 120). Currently we have two groups matched on mental age: 7 ASD (6 males, 1 female; mean age = 15.5, SD = 2.22) and 19 TD (10 males, 9 females; mean age = 14.05, SD = 1.81) (N = 26). Participants are administered the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule to confirm diagnosis, the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System to measure executive functioning and the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence to measure IQ. To test self-perceptions, a verbal and a mathematic task have been derived from Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Achievement. Participants are asked about how well they think they will do before they complete each task (pre-task prediction), how well they think they did after they complete each task (current post-performance rating) and how well they think they will do if they did each task again (future post-performance rating). 

Results: Preliminary findings indicate trends that support our hypotheses. Discrepancy scores were used for analyses, where the participant’s perceived score is subtracted from their actual score. Mann-Whitney U tests evaluated group differences in discrepancy scores. The results of all the tests were in the expected direction, with the ASD group having larger average discrepancy scores than typically developing controls. Both the current and future post-task math questions were significant at the p < .05 levels. Correlations were computed to examine the relations between IQ and executive functioning with discrepancy scores. Preliminary analyses suggest a negative relationship between self-perceptions and IQ; however, there seems to be no relationship between self-perceptions and executive functioning.   

Conclusions: The data suggest that individuals with ASD have less accurate self-perceptions than TD controls. More accurate self-perceptions tend to be associated with higher IQ scores. We expect to find more conclusive results once more participants have been tested. Examining the positive illusory bias in ASD using pre/post task questions will further our understanding of the causal mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.

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