Caregiver Vs. Adolescent Report of Internalizing Symptoms and Relationship to Physiological Arousal Across the PEERS® Intervention
Objectives: 1) Determine discrepancies between adolescent self- and parent/caregiver-report of anxious and depressive symptoms at pre- and post-intervention. 2) Explore how two measures of physiological arousal, RSA and HP, compared to self- and parent/caregiver-report at both time points. 3) Examine change in discrepancies in report from pre- to post-intervention.
Methods: 139 adolescents with ASD aged 11-16 and their parents/caregivers participated. Descriptive statistics are in Table 1. A randomized controlled trial (RCT: experimental vs. waitlist control) of the PEERS® intervention (Laugeson & Frankel, 2010) was conducted. Data at pre- and post-PEERS® included self- and parent/caregiver-report of the Social Anxiety Scale-Adolescent (SAD-NEW, fear and anxiety about unfamiliar peers), Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS), Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ) and Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL)/Youth Self Report (YSR) Anxious/Depressed, Withdrawn/Depressed, Internalizing Problems subscales, as well as RSA and HP from a sub-sample of participants (noverall=63; nwaitlist=29).
Results: Preliminary results revealed the following effects and correlations. Repeated Measures ANOVAs for Group (EXP vs WL) by Reporter (Parent/caregiver vs. Teen) showed significant main effects for Reporter on the SAS-NEW at Pre, F(1,117)=23.47, p<.001 and Post, F(1,122)=48.22, p<.001; Spence at Pre, F(1,54)=17.51, p<.001; CBCL/YSR Anxious/Depressed at Post, F(1,44)=7.26, p=.01; CBCL/YSR Withdrawn/Depressed subscale at Post, F(1,44)=6.17, p=.02. Correlations between behavioral measures and RSA at both time points revealed a significant relationship between RSA and EXP parent/caregiver reports at Post on the CBCL Internalizing Problems subscale, r(32)=-.585, p=.036, and the Anxious/Depressed subscale, r(32)=-.645, p=.017. No other correlations were significant.
Conclusions: Results demonstrate reporter discrepancies and correlations between RSA and parent/caregiver-reports. Because no significant correlations in RSA and self-report were uncovered, and lower values of RSA are shown to be associated with higher anxiety, parents/caregivers may be more accurate in reporting adolescents’ symptoms post-intervention. This may be a byproduct of the intervention’s focus on behavior that results in parents/caregivers recognizing their adolescent’s social difficulties more accurately. Discrepancies present prior to intervention may be the result of parent/caregivers’ difficulty in recognizing internalizing symptoms (Sourander, Helstelä, & Helenius, 1999). At post-intervention, for the waitlist group, discrepancies on the CBCL/YSR subscales may be due to the parents/caregivers’ perceived expectations of themselves in being part of a research study leading them to assess symptoms differently than at the pre- time point.