Microanalysis of Daily Living Skills in Adolescents with ASD

Friday, May 16, 2014
Atrium Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
A. W. Duncan1, M. Will1, K. Martin1, H. Barnard2, C. L. Thomas3 and R. E. Adams4, (1)Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, (2)Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, (3)Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Cincinnati, OH, (4)Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
Background:  The acquisition and mastery of daily living skills is critical for achieving certain milestones in adulthood including living independently, attending post-secondary education, maintaining a job, and socializing with others. Adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have daily living skills that are significantly impaired and fall far below what would be expected based on both their chronological age and cognitive abilities (Duncan & Bishop, in press; Klin et al., 2007). Despite these impairments, there has been a dearth of research on interventions that target the acquisition and maintenance of essential daily living skills that may then facilitate or lead to a more successful adult outcome for individuals with ASD. However, before effective interventions can be developed, it is critical to understand what specific skills or skill sets are impaired in adolescents with ASD. 

Objectives: The current study’s primary aim was to examine the specific strengths and difficulties of adolescents with ASD in the 3 Daily Living Skills subdomains of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, 2ndEdition (Vineland-II) by analyzing specific items and content categories.

Methods:  Seventy-five parents of adolescents with ASD completed the Vineland-II as part of a larger study investigating issues related to the transition to adulthood. Adolescents with ASD ranged in age from 12-17 years (M = 181.9 months). Over 75% of diagnoses of ASD were confirmed by cross referencing the adolescent’s electronic medical record. Both individual items and content categories (e.g., Telephone Skills, Money Skills) for the 3 Daily Living Skills subdomains (i.e., Personal, Domestic, and Community) of the Vineland-II were examined for the current study. A score was calculated for each content category that indicated the percentage of possible points earned within each category. 

Results:  Data collection and analysis is ongoing and the sample is expected to exceed 100 participants by May 2014.  Adolescents were predominately male (92%) and Non-Hispanic (98.7%). Preliminary analyses indicated the following: (1) Participants had mean scores on the 3 Vineland-II domains that fell within the Adequate range and had mean age equivalent scores that ranged from 9 to 11 years of age; (2) Adolescents with ASD were proficient in the content domains of Eating and Drinking (mean score of 93.9%), Toileting (mean score of 87.6%), Dressing (mean score of 86.1%), and Time and Dates (mean score of 82.6%); (3) Adolescents with ASD had particular difficulties in the areas of Healthcare (mean score of 45.5%), Housekeeping (mean score of 32.6%), Job Skills (mean score of 22.3%), and Going Places Independently (mean score of 14.8%). Additional analyses will be conducted to further explore specific items and examine relationships between socio-demographic factors and daily living skills.

Conclusions:  The preliminary results indicate that adolescents with ASD appear to have daily living skills deficits that will likely affect their ability to achieve a successful adult outcome. Future research and implications for interventions that focus on current functioning and future adult outcomes by increasing skills that are needed for independent living, employment, post-secondary education, and socialization with peers in adolescents with ASD will be discussed.