Do You See What I See? the Recognition of Bullying in Male Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Friday, May 12, 2017: 5:00 PM-6:30 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
E. A. Kelley1, Z. Hodgins2, R. Furlano1, L. Hall1 and C. C. Hudson1, (1)Queen's University, Kingston, ON, CANADA, (2)Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada
Background:  Youth with ASD have repeatedly been found to be victimized by their peers at a higher rate than typically-developing youth, but few studies have investigated whether youth with ASD are able to recognize and describe bullying situations. The few studies that have focused on these youth's ability to recognize bullying have merely asked the youth whether or not an instance of bullying had occured in the scenario.

Objectives:  The current study was designed to investigate not only whether adolescents with ASD were able to recognize bullying when it occured, but also whether they were able to accurately describe the situation, identify the bully/bullies and victim(s), and discuss why the bullying occurred.

Methods:  Male adolescents with ASD and typically-developing (TD) controls (Mage = 14.62, SD = 1.91), matched on full-scale IQ, watched six videos portraying various bullying scenarios and were interviewed after each video. The interviews were coded for the participants’ ability to accurately describe the bullying situations. We also collected information about the adolescents’ own experiences with victimization using self-report questionnaires.

Results:  Results indicated that adolescents with ASD had significantly lower bullying perception scores compared to TD adolescents F(1, 65)= 11.86, p= .001, eta squared =.15. Self-report measures of victimization were significantly correlated with bullying perception scores in TD adolescents (r(36)= .34, p= .034) but not in adolescents with ASD r(25)= .02, p= .917.

Conclusions: Despite receiving a definition of what bullying entails at the beginning of the study, male adolescents with ASD were less able to identify bullying and less able to describe what was occuring in bullying videos than their age- and IQ-matched peers. The fact that understanding of bullying was related to experiences with victimization in TD youth but not in youth with ASD raises questions about how youth with ASD understand when they themselves are being bullied. Future research to explore this question will be discussed.