A Sensitive Measure of Social Interaction Styles and Social Vulnerability in Developmental Disorders – Moving Beyond the Constraints of the Social Responsiveness Scale 2

Poster Presentation
Thursday, May 2, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
E. Ridley1, S. R. Leekam2 and D. M. Riby1, (1)Department of Psychology, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom, (2)School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, NSW, United Kingdom
Background: The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS-2; Constantino & Gruber, 2012) is the most widely used, standardised measure to examine social functioning abilities/disabilities in developmental disorders. However, much evidence suggests the SRS-2 lacks specificity in capturing subtle social differences between developmental groups; indeed it was not designed for this purpose, rather to capture the presence/severity of social atypicalities characteristic of functioning on the autism spectrum.

Objectives: The aim of this large project was to provide a new parent-report questionnaire probing social interaction styles in more detail than the SRS-2, and provide sufficient specificity to understand social skills that transcend diagnostic boundaries, alongside those that might be more syndrome-specific. We collected questionnaire data from parents of children with 3 developmental disorders known to impact upon social skills; Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Williams Syndrome (WS) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This poster focuses on 2 clear objectives of the study, specifically to capture i) the (a)typicality of social interaction styles with peers versus adults, and ii) evidence of social vulnerability within the social profiles.

Methods: 94 parents of children with developmental disorders (4-17y), including children with ASD (n=29), WS (n=30) and ADHD (n=36), completed an online questionnaire focusing on social interactions and social vulnerability. A subgroup of parents also completed the SRS-2 to allow comparisons across measures. The questionnaire was developed utilising the SRS-2 and the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO; Wing et al., 2002).

Results: The mean for all groups showed significant levels of social atypicality and fell in the atypical range as measured by the SRS-2 (WS M=71.00, SD=11.57; ASD M=83.91, SD=6.77; ADHD M=78.65, SD=10.19). On the social interaction questionnaire, mapping to objective (i) a 3x2 ANOVA analysed whether social interaction styles differed depending on the person (adult vs peer) and diagnostic group. There was a significant person.x.group interaction (F(2,91)=7.897, p<0.001), suggesting social interaction atypicalities not only differed depending on whether the interaction was with an adult or peer, but also by diagnostic group. While there was no significant difference between adult and peer interaction ability in ASD (p=0.34) or ADHD (p=0.52), the WS group showed more atypicalities with peers than adults (t(28)=4.873, p<0.001). Mapping to objective (ii) a one-way ANOVA revealed no significant difference in mean social vulnerability levels between groups (p=0.072). The important aspect of these data is that the social vulnerability levels reported for all groups were significantly higher than existing data from a ‘typical’ sample – therefore suggesting heightened social vulnerability across these developmental disorders.

Conclusions: These data provide evidence of overlapping social atypicalities in children with ASD, WS and ADHD. Furthermore, they suggest that social atypicalities may vary depending on who the child is interacting with, but that the pattern may be syndrome-specific, and this is important for theory and intervention. The social vulnerability data emphasise the necessity to understand/capture social skills accurately in these developmental groups and the potential consequence of atypical social functioning.