Perceptions of Social Functioning In Young Children with ASD: Comparing Parent and Teacher Reports

Thursday, May 17, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
2:00 PM
M. B. Jackson1, M. Adolphson Horn1 and E. Laugeson2, (1)The Help Group - UCLA Autism Research Alliance, Sherman Oaks, CA, (2)UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Research has investigated differences between parent-reports and self-reports of social functioning for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD); however, less is known about the specific relationship between parent-reports and teacher-reports of social functioning among children with ASD (Murray, Ruble, Willis, & Molloy, 2009). Moreover, the limited research that has been done in this area tends to focus on older children (Constantino, 2003). Because practitioners tend to use a multi-informant approach when assessing young children with ASD (Lecavalier et al., 2004), this branch of research should be more widely investigated, and represents a gap in the literature.     

Objectives: This study examines both the differences and similarities in perceptions of social functioning among teachers and parents of preschool-aged children with ASD. The relationship between parent-reports and teacher-reports of social functioning on two standardized measures were investigated.  

Methods: Parents and teachers of 11 children with ASD ranging from 3 to 5 years of age (M = 4.14, SD = .66) participated in this study. Raters completed the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS; Constantino, 2005) and the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS; Gresham & Elliot, 1990) to assess perceptions of children’s psychosocial functioning. Bivariate correlations were done on parent-reports and teacher-reports for the SRS and SSRS. Partial correlations were done as well in order to control for potentially extraneous variables. 

Results: Results reveal that parent-reports of overall social responsiveness were significantly correlated with teacher-reports of social responsiveness on the SRS (r=.715, p=.013). However, this correlation was no longer significant when controlling for parent-reports and teacher-reports of Autistic Mannerisms on the SRS (p=.323). In addition, parent-reports were not significantly correlated with teacher-reports on the SSRS (r=.489, p=.127), due to lower reports of Self-Control (p=.036) by parents. Inter-item correlations showed that parent-reports and teacher-reports of Assertion on the SSRS did significantly correlate with one another (r=.685, p=.020). 

Conclusions: The finding that parent-reports and teacher-reports on the SRS were only significantly correlated because of their reports of Autistic Mannerisms suggests that teachers and parents are in agreement on areas of functioning that are more outwardly apparent and quantifiable. The agreement between parents and teachers when specifically assessing Assertion on the SSRS, another more easily observable area of functioning, supports this conclusion. Nevertheless, teachers and parents do not appear to be in accordance when assessing areas of functioning that are more internal and not as easily perceptible, as shown by the lower teacher-reports than parent-reports of Self-Control on the SSRS. Assuming these findings are accurate representations of children’s social behavior in different contexts, results suggest that certain social behaviors are context-dependent. Consequently, interventions targeting better communication about social functioning between parents and teachers of preschool-aged children with ASD would be advantageous.

| More