Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Loneliness in Adolescents with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder
by De Gennaro, Laura M., Psy.D., Hofstra University, 2015, 100; 3727071
Abstract (Summary)

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder have difficulties with interpersonal relationships at all ages and functioning levels, including difficulties in effective communication, sharing enjoyment and interests with others, and emotional reciprocity (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder struggle with social connectedness. In typically developing individuals, a lack of social connectedness may yield a perception of loneliness. In the current study, the investigator sought to determine what features influence perceptions of loneliness in adolescents with and without High-Functioning ASD. The features investigated were social skill ability, self-esteem, anxiety and social involvement inside and outside of school.

The purpose of this study was to identify if adolescents with High-Functioning Autism experience higher rates of loneliness than their typically developing peers, and if so, what most contributes to feelings of loneliness in this population. This study included adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 who had been diagnosed with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HF-ASD) as well as a neurotypical group and the groups were grade matched. It was hypothesized that: 1) Adolescents with High-Functioning Autism would report higher rates of loneliness than their typically developing peers, 2) Adolescents with High-Functioning Autism will report lower rates of social skill ability and higher rates of problem behaviors than their typically developing peers, 3) Adolescents with high functioning autism would report higher rates of anxiety, and 4) Adolescents with high functioning autism would report lower rates of self-esteem than their typically developing peers. Additional analyses on gender were examined.

Univariate ANOVAs were used to determine the differences between ratings from adolescents with High-Functioning Autism when compared to their typically developing peers. An ANOVA conducted on loneliness indicated no statistical difference between groups as identified by diagnosis F (1, 38) = 3.17, p = .083, or between groups as identified by gender F (1, 38) = 1.65, p = .213. An ANOVA conducted on social skills, indicated a significant difference between groups as identified by diagnosis, F (1, 38) = 11.65, p =.002 and as identified by gender, F (1, 38) = 5.55, p =.024. An ANOVA conducted on problem behaviors indicated no statistical difference between groups as identified by diagnosis F (1, 38) = .119, p = .732, or between groups as identified by gender F (1, 38) = .253, p = .618. An ANOVA conducted on anxiety indicated no statistical difference between groups as identified by diagnosis F (1, 38) = .002, p = .969, or between groups as identified by gender F (1, 38) = .317, p = .577. An ANOVA conducted on self-esteem indicated a significant difference between groups as identified by diagnosis, F (1, 38) = 9.35, p =.004 and as identified by gender F (1, 38) = 11.10, p = .002.

Results suggest that adolescents with HF-ASD do not perceive loneliness at the same rate as their typically developing peers, and a significant difference in reports of social skill ability and self-esteem in females with HF-ASD than their typically developing peers. Implications of these findings and future research ideas are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gilbert, Kimberly A.
Commitee: Dill, Charles, McVey Noble, Merry, Motta, Robert, Nouryan, Lola
School: Hofstra University
Department: School-Community Psychology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 77/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Adolescents, Emotionality, High-functioning autism, Loneliness, Self-esteem, Social skills
Publication Number: 3727071
ISBN: 9781339119953
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