Social Differences of Adolescents with High

Social Differences of Adolescents
with High-Functioning Autism
and Asperger’s Syndrome
Miranda Clark
Advisor: Tina K. Veale, Ph. D.
Eastern Illinois University
Partial funding for this project was provided
by the Honors Council of the Illinois Region
High-functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger’s
Syndrome (AS) are two similar disorders.
Differentiation of HFA and AS is necessary for multiple
Individuals need a better understanding of their
strengths and weaknesses.
Benefits to parents include a greater understanding of
their child’s abilities.
Results of this study will add to the knowledge base
regarding the basic similarities or differences between
these disorders, and will help families and educators to
better understand how to help adolescents in the
autism spectrum enhance their social skills.
Leo Kanner first described autism in
 Symptoms must be present from three
categories: social interaction,
communication, and behavior.
 Early indicators of autism include:
 Dislike of physical contact
 Lack of eye contact
 Lack of facial expression
These indicators are noticed around
two years of age; onset must be prior to
age three.
High-Functioning Autism
High-functioning autism (HFA) is a term
that has become popular to describe a
subset of children with autism.
 Acquire communication skills that allow
them to carry on conversations with others.
Exhibit intellectual skills.
Develop an exceptional vocabulary and
learn to read at an early age (Fullerton,
1996; Gillberg & Ehlers, 1998; Seung, 2007).
Conversational topics often revolve around
their narrow interests.
Show higher intelligence quotients (IQ).
Asperger’s Syndrome
Hans Asperger independently
described children similar to those
observed by Kanner.
 A group of higher functioning
individuals with autistic
characteristics had been identified.
Asperger’s Syndrome
Criteria for AS remains the same as when the
disorder was first described, except they present
 No cognitive deficit
 No communication deficit
 No speech –language differences in the first three
 Exhibit repetitive behaviors
 Show deficits in social interactions
○ Don’t understand basic pragmatics
 Have limited interests focusing on factual information
Children with AS progress differently than
typically developing children.
Comparing High-Functioning
Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome
While HFA and AS share many
characteristics, differences between
the two disorders have also been
cited in the literature. These include
variability in:
Motor skills
Age of diagnosis
Limited Interests
Social Development of Individuals
with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Deficits include problems with:
 Eye referencing
 Joint attention
 Restricted range of communicative functions
(Prelock, 2006)
 Participating in conversations with others
 Diminished social perspective-taking
(Scaliatine, 2009)
These issues contribute to problems
obtaining jobs and forging new
relationships (Landa, 2000).
Research Question
Is there a significant difference in the
social skills of adolescents with HFA,
AS, and neurotypical development?
 In social inferencing ability?
 In social interpreting ability?
 In social-situation-breakdown problem
 In interpreting social interaction?
 In interpreting ironic statements?
Subject Selection
17 participants ages 12-17 years:
• Normal hearing and visual acuity based upon
parent report.
• Normal to near-normal cognitive ability
based upon documentation of average
grade-level performance or IQ of >70.
• Professional diagnosis of HFA or AS, or parent
report of neurotypical development.
o Experimental groups:
 HFA group included 5 participants.
 AS group was comprised of 7 individuals.
 Neurotypical group consisted of 5 subjects who
had no known disabilities.
Employed a group comparative
 Each participant was administered the
Social Language Development TestAdolescent (SLDT-A).
 The SLDT-A is comprised of 5 subtests.
Social Language
Development Test- Adolescent
Making Inferences
 Interpreting Social Language
 Problem Solving
 Social Interaction
 Interpreting Ironic Statements
Total test scores from the
SLDT-A were analyzed
using the nonparametric
Kruskal-Wallis analysis of
variance to address the
main research question.
• At the .05 level of
confidence, there was
no significant
difference between the
three groups in overall
performance on this
measure of social
language abilities
Soc Lang
Prob Solving
Soc Interact
Ironic Stmts
At the .05 level of
confidence, a
difference between
the three groups in
overall performance
on this measure of
social language
abilities was not
achieved (p=0.083),
yet the difference
As predicted, neither group with autism spectrum
disorders performed as well as subjects with
neurotypical development.
 The neurotypical group scored the highest on four of
the five subtests, with the AS group performing less
well, and the HFA group performing the worst.
 Making Inferences was the only subtest that did not
create such a pattern.
 The HFA group scored the best.
 All groups were between one and two standard deviations
below the mean.
 Most participants struggled to formulate language to
describe what the pictured individuals were thinking, and
also had problems naming aspects of the picture that let
them know what the person was thinking.
Analysis of Results
The HFA group scored below the mean on 3
The AS group scored 1 standard deviation
below the mean on 1 subtest.
One of the subtests was not understood by any
of the participants, including the neurotypical
Pattern of findings was consistent across four
Nonparametric test was used due to the
number of subjects in each group, such test is
not as powerful in capturing numerical
differences as parametric tests.
Relation to Past Research
Findings supported:
 Macintosh and Dissanayake (2006)
 Eisenmajer et al. (1996)
 Scaliatine (2009)
Strengths & Limitations
 Researcher employed strategies to
ensure that data were reliable.
 Small sample size
 Design of the Making Inferences Subtest
on the Social Language Development
Future Research
Replicate with a larger number of
adolescents with HFA and AS for
generalization of findings.
 Evaluate specific social skill deficits of
adolescents with HFA and AS.
 Consider using different assessment
tools to evaluate social behavior that
might be more sensitive to
discriminating these characteristics for
individuals with autism spectrum
The SLDT-A assessed general social skills
a standardized test of social skills
development for adolescents.
 No significant differences were found.
Total test scores for both the HFA and AS
groups were in the impaired range.
Social deficits will impact their success with
peers and adults at school, home, and in the
Social skills is an area of autism that will require
ongoing attention.
Selected References
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th
ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Baker, J. (2004). Social skills training for children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome and
social-communication problems. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism-Asperger Publishing Company.
Bellini, S. (2008). Building social relationships: A systematic approach to teaching social interaction
skills to children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and other social difficulties.
Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism-Asperger Publishing Company.
Bellini, S. (2004). Social skill deficits and anxiety in high-functioning adolescents with autism
spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities, 19, 78-86.
Bowers, L., Huisingh, R., & LoGiudice, C. (2010). Social Language Development Test-Adolescent.
East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, Inc.
Eisenmajer, R., Prior, M., Leekam, S., Wing, L., Ong, B., Gould, J., & Welham, M. (1998). Delayed
language onset as a predictor of clinical symptoms in pervasive developmental disorders. Journal
of Autism and Developmental Disorder, 28, 527-533. doi:10.1023/A:1026004212375
Eisenmajer, R., Prior, M., Leekam, S., Wing, L., Ong, B., Gould, J., & Welham, M. (1998). Delayed
language onset as a predictor of clinical symptoms in pervasive developmental disorders. Journal
of Autism and Developmental Disorder, 28, 527-533. doi:10.1023/A:1026004212375
Frith, U. (1991). Autism and Asperger syndrome. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Fullerton, A. (1996). Who are higher functioning young adults with autism? In A. Fullerton, J.
Stratton, P. Coyne, & C. Gray (Eds.), Higher functioning adolescents and young adults with autism
(pp. 1-19). Dallas, TX: Pro-Ed
Selected References
Gillberg, C., & Ehlers, S. (1998). High-functioning people with autism and Asperger's
syndrome: A literature review. In E. Scholpler, G. B. Mesibov, & L. J. Kunce (Eds.), Asperger
syndrome or high-functioning autism? (pp. 79-106). New York, NY: Plenum Press.
Happé, F. (1995). Understanding minds and metaphors: Insights from the study of figurative
language in autism. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, 10, 275-295.
Howlin, P. (2003). Outcome in high-functioning adults with autism with and without early
language delays: Implications for the differentiation between autism and Asperger
syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 3-13. doi: 01623257/03/0200-0003/0
Jones, C. D., & Schwartz, I. S. (2009). When asking questions is not enough: An observational
study of social communication differences in high functioning children with autism. Journal
of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 432- 443. doi: 10.1007/s10803-008-0642-y
Kaderavek, J. (2011). Language disorders in children. New York, New York: Pearson.
Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217-250.
Kowalski, T. (2002). The source for Asperger’s syndrome. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, Inc.
Kugler, B. (1998). The differentiation between autism and asperger syndrome. Autism, 2, 1132. doi: 10.1177/1362361398021003.
Kuusikko, S., Poolock-Wurman, R., Jussila, K., Carter, A. S., Mattila, M., Ebeling, H., Pauls, D. L.,
& Moilanen, I. (2008). Social anxiety in high-functioning children and adolescents with
autism and asperger syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 16971709. doi: 10.1007/s10803-008-0555-9
Selected References
Landa, R. (2000). Social language use in Asperger syndrome and high-function autism. In A.
Klin, F. R. Volkmar, S. S. Sparrow (Eds.), Asperger syndrome. (pp. 215-155). New York, NY:
Guilford Press.
Prelock, P. (2006). Autism spectrum disorders: Issues in assessment and intervention. Dallas,
TX: Pro-Ed.
Scaliatine, C. (2009). Perspective-taking in adolscents with Asperger syndrome and
nonverbal learning disorder (Unpublished master’s thesis). Eastern Illinois University,
Charleston, IL.
Physical Disabilities, 17, 345-359. doi:10.1007/s10882-005-6618-3
Seung, H. (2007). Linguistic characteristics of individuals with high functioning autism and
Asperger syndrome. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 21, 247-259. doi:
Tyson, K., & Cruess, D. (2011). Differentiation high-functioning autism and social phobia.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1-14 doi: 10.1007/s10803-011-1386-7
Volkmar, F., Lord, C., Bailey, A., Schultz, R., & Klin, A. (2004). Autism and pervasive
developmental disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry , 45, 135-170.
Thank you!
Dr. Tina Veale
 Dr. Angela Anthony
 Ms. Jill Fahy
 Dr. Gail Richard
 Dr. Rebecca Throneburg
 The Eastern Illinois University Honors

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