Higher Maternal Autism Spectrum Quotient Score Predicts Weaker Tendency to See Pragmatic Impairments As a Problem

Thursday, May 11, 2017: 12:00 PM-1:40 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
K. Hanabusa1, M. Oi2 and Y. Yoshimura3, (1)United Graduate School of Child Development, Kanazawa, Japan, (2)Kanazawa University, United Graduate School of Child Dev., Kanazawa, JAPAN, (3)Research Center for Child Mental Development, Kanazawa University, kanazawa, Japan
Background:  Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show deficits in reciprocal social interactions and impairment in verbal communication, such as difficulties in understanding humor, irony and sarcasm (Frith, 2003). Sucksmith et al.’s (2011) review of work on the Broader Autism Phenotype states that many studies on the language domain of autistic atypicalities have suggested that the parents and siblings of autistic probands have significantly greater difficulty using language to communicate for social purposes (pragmatics) compared to controls. Komeda et al. (2015) conclude that both individuals with ASD and those with typical development (TD) make selective neural responses toward people who are similar to themselves, although there are differences in the neural mechanisms between ASD and TD. We hypothesized that individuals with higher Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) scores are permissive to others with pragmatic language impairments.

Objectives:  The purpose of this study was to investigate the correlation between maternal AQ score and mothers’ evaluation of pragmatic impairments in children.

Methods:  Participants were selected from 100 mothers who were randomized according to sample allocation from over 800,000 questionnaire respondents by a marketing research corporation in Japan. We applied sample allocation to choose eight or nine mothers of children of each sex in each grade from grades 1 to 6. Mothers’ mean age was 40.3 years (standard deviation = 5.3, range = 26-55). AQ and scales D to H (D. coherence, E. inappropriate initiation, F. stereotyped language, G. use of context and H. nonverbal communication) of the Maternal Evaluation of Pragmatic Impairments in Children (MEPC) from the Children’s Communication Checklist Second Edition (CCC-2), which measures pragmatic impairments, were administered through an Internet survey. Using MEPC, mothers were asked to estimate how they would feel if their children showed the communication behaviors listed in scales D to H with responses given on a five-point Likert scale from “1. It isn’t a problem” to “5. It’s a problem .”

Results:  Data were analyzed using Pearson’s correlation coefficients and regression analysis. There was a significant negative correlation between maternal AQ scores and MEPC scores (r=-0.2577, p<0.01). We also found significant negative correlations for each of the communication and imagination subscales of AQ and scores for subscales D to H of MEPC (p<0.05−0.001) (see Table 1). There was no correlation between the other AQ subscales including social skills, attention switching and attention to detail and any of the scores for subscales D to H of MPEC.

Conclusions:  Higher maternal AQ score predicts mothers being more permissive to pragmatic impairments. This study showed correlations between the communication and imagination subscales of AQ and the evaluation scores of pragmatic impairments in CCC-2. However, no correlations were found between the other AQ subscales and the evaluation score of pragmatic impairments in CCC-2.