Date of Award

12-31-2016

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Abbey Eisenhower

Second Advisor

Alice S. Carter

Third Advisor

Laurel Wainwright

Abstract

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may have a particularly difficult time adapting to school during the early school years, due to the social and behavioral challenges associated with their symptoms and other comorbid behavior problems. Disagreement between parents and teachers in their ratings of children’s emotional and behavioral functioning may provide useful clinical information during this transition. The current study examines correlates of parent–teacher cross-informant disagreement on ratings of behavior problems in a sample of young children with autism spectrum disorders (N = 164; 82% male; age range = 4 - 7 years old; grades pre-K through 2nd) with data reported both in the fall and spring of the school year. First, direct relations between child, informant, and context characteristics and magnitude of discrepancy between parent and teacher ratings of behavior problems from the beginning of the school year were examined. Despite higher teacher-reported problem behavior scores compared to parent-reported problem behavior scores, there was low disagreement between parents and teachers on behavior problems for children with more severe ASD symptoms (higher ADOS algorithm score). In the spring of the school year, both higher ASD symptom severity and smaller classroom size were associated with lower disagreement. Cross-lagged panel analyses between parental school involvement and informant disagreement from baseline to follow-up illustrated that higher informant disagreement on both internalizing (β = -.21, p <.001) and externalizing behavior problems (β = -.14, p < .05) in the fall predicted lower parent school involvement in the spring. The findings of the current study add to our understanding of informant disagreement on behavior problems of preschoolers with ASD and help to inform potential interventions in home, school, and clinical settings.

Comments

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