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ABSRACT Self-concept and theory of mind abilities of adolescents with Aspergers syndrome (AS) were assessed compared to students with specific learning.

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Presentation on theme: "ABSRACT Self-concept and theory of mind abilities of adolescents with Aspergers syndrome (AS) were assessed compared to students with specific learning."— Presentation transcript:

1 ABSRACT Self-concept and theory of mind abilities of adolescents with Aspergers syndrome (AS) were assessed compared to students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) and peers without special education eligibility (Non-sped). The results indicate that the group with AS was significantly different than the Non-sped group on the Popularity domain. Adolescents with Aspergers syndrome and students with SLD may also have just as high self-concepts compared to their same-age peers. INTRODUCTION Aspergers syndrome differentiates from classic autism based on primary deficits in socialization and having restricted and repetitive interests (Myles & Simpson, 2002). Children and adolescents with Aspergers syndrome demonstrate more symptoms of anxiety than normally developing children and are as anxious as children who are clinically diagnosed as anxious (Farrugia & Hudson, 2006; Russell & Sofronoff, 2005). Farrugia and Hudson also found that adolescents with Aspergers syndrome had more negative thoughts, behavior problems, and difficulty adapting to major life experiences. Like individuals with autism, those who are diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome will have a theory of mind deficit (Barnhill, 2001a). However, most research of individuals with Aspergers syndrome and theory of mind includes adults or individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Research on students with Aspergers syndrome in inclusion and general education classes primarily focus on social interactions (i.e., reciprocity and degree of loneliness ) and academic interventions. Self-concept can be measured generally or can include such concepts as academic competence, social acceptance, or physical appearance (Manning, 2007). As the child develops, self-concept fluctuates from exaggerated, to decline, to an increase during middle and high school (Berk, 2007; Manning, 2007). Having a high self-concept in perceived important domains will increase the individuals self-esteem, and having a high self-esteem can motivate students to continue to try in the midst of difficulty (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003). While research is consistent that students with Aspergers syndrome have social deficits due to their restricted and repetitive interests and difficulty to take the perspective of other students, there are minimal studies that address adolescents with Aspergers syndrome and their self-concepts on specific domains in relation to their theory of mind. Purpose The current study measure d the self-concept and theory of mind of adolescents with Aspergers syndrome compared to students with SLD and not eligible for special education. Students with AS were hypothesized to have a lower self- concept in domains pertaining to social interactions and anxiety. Students with AS were hypothesized to have a lower theory of mind score compared to SLD and Non-sped group. Students in SLD group were hypothesized to have a lower academic self-concept. METHOD Participants Twenty-five adolescents (9 with AS, 7 with SLD, 9 Non-sped) in general education or inclusion classes AS group age (M 15.44, SD 1.42), SLD group (M 15.57, SD 1.51), Non-sped group (M 15.67, SD 1.87) Twenty-one Males 52% Caucasian, 32% Hispanic, 16% African American Measures Self-Concept. Piers-Harris Childrens Self-Concept Scale Second Edition (Piers-Harris 2, Piers & Herzberg, 2002) Students were asked to self-report if they agreed or disagreed with 60 statements Piers-Harris 2 yields a Total Self Concept Score, and 6 subscale scores: Behavior Adjustment, Intellectual and School Status, Physical Appearance, Freedom From Anxiety, Popularity, and Happiness and Satisfaction Importance. Students were asked to rate the importance of a definition of each Piers-Harris 2 domain using a 5 point Likert scale (5 = very important) Theory of Mind. Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test Revised Version (Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Hill, Raste, & Plumb, 2001) Students were asked to identify the feelings of 36 authentic photographs of eyes on the computer. Students had four choices of feelings to pick from and a glossary of the mental states if needed. PROCEDURES Adolescents were referred to the study by LSSPs of school or by the parent of adolescent volunteering Session One. Students given demographic sheet, and Piers- Harris 2 to complete Session Two. Approximately 2 -3 weeks later, students completed Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test Revised Version Self-concept domain scores and Theory of Mind Scores were compared between groups RESULTS An ANOVA conducted for Piers-Harris 2 scores and theory of mind scores A significant difference F(2,22) = 3.921, p =.035 was found between the AS group and Non-sped group on the Popularity domain Tukeys analysis confirmed that students in AS group had significantly lower popularity scores than Non-sped group No significant differences were found between the SLD group and the AS and Non-sped group on any domains or theory of mind scores Most students in the AS group rated Behavior, School, Positive Attitude, Popularity, and Happiness as important Most students in SLD group rated Behavior, Positive Attitude, and Happiness as important Most students in the Non-sped group rated Behavior, School and Happiness as very important DISCUSSION/IMPLICATIONS Results confirm research that students with AS seek social interactions, but still may not find themselves centrally involved with their peers. Students with AS may have had a comparable Freedom from Anxiety score due to the low sample or because they were fairly well adjusted in their peer groups and participating in preferred activities. Students in the SLD group may have had a comparable academic self- concept due to increased interventions in the school setting, such as technology, that can accommodate for students academic needs. Theory of mind scores may not have been significantly different among groups because of the small sample or due to increased early interventions for students with AS. This study can be useful in the school setting to present the positive impacts of general education and inclusion classes as well as early intervention for students with AS. Presented at National Association of School Psychologists National Conference, February 2011, San Francisco, CA. For questions about this research study contact, Courtney Swisher Banks, Note * denotes Thesis Chair at Texas A&M Commerce Self-Concept and Theory of Mind of Adolescents with Aspergers Syndrome Courtney Swisher Banks, SSP and Steve Ball, Ph.D.* Department of Educational Psychology


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