Examining the Association Between Symptom Severity and Adaptive Functioning in Autism Spectrum Disorder Open Access

Bader, Yazan (Spring 2022)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/8p58pf41n?locale=en


The purpose of this study is to expand upon our understanding of ASD and its heterogeneity. To accomplish this, the study aimed to examine the relationship between diagnostic metrics often used in the assessment of children with ASD. Namely, the association between symptom severity and adaptive functioning was analyzed. Furthermore, this study aimed to explore the interaction between demographic variables such as race, and socioeconomic background and the aforementioned diagnostic variables. To accomplish this, data collected by licensed clinicians at the Marcus Autism Center for the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales was analyzed. The participants in this study were 105 children aged between 21 to 127 months. Our findings suggested that on average, children of non-white racial identity exhibited greater symptom severity despite not differing significantly across all measures of adaptive functioning. Additionally, symptom severity was significantly predictive of adaptive functioning; this association was not moderated by race, or socioeconomic status. The study was limited by its small sample size and reliance on parent testimony for assessing adaptive functioning. For future studies, adaptation from a cross-sectional to a longitudinal study design, as well as increasing sample size is recommended.

Table of Contents

Introduction 7 

Background 7 

Autism Symptom Severity 8 

Adaptive Functioning 9 

Disparities 9 

Objective 11 

Methods 12 

Setting 12 

Participants 13 

Procedure 13 

Measures 14 

ADOS 14 

VABS 15 


Variables 17 

Data Analysis 17 

Results 18 

Sample 18 

Data Analysis 18 

Mean Comparisons 18 

Bivariate Correlation/Moderation Analysis 19 

Discussion 20 

Limitations/Future Directions 23 

References 25 

Tables/Figures 30 

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