Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Megan Foley Nicpon

Second Advisor

Saba Rasheed Ali

Abstract

The diagnostic category of autism has been extensively investigated over the past 65 years since the condition was first described by Dr. Leo Kanner (1943), making it one of the most validated psychological disorders. Research has examined the characteristics of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across a variety of domains, including diagnostic symptomology, intellectual profiles, adaptive behavior, and psychosocial functioning. However, there exists a paucity of empirical research on intellectually gifted children with ASD. The goal of the current study was to compare the psychometric profiles of gifted youth with and without ASD across the domains of intellectual functioning, psychosocial/behavioral functioning, social skills, and adaptive behavior using an empirical, group study design. It was hypothesized that, in comparison to the group of youth without ASD, the group of youth with ASD would demonstrate equally strong verbal and nonverbal intellectual abilities with relatively poorer processing speed, poorer adaptive functioning skills, more psychosocial/behavior concerns, and poorer social skills. Data from 81 school-age youth who had been identified as intellectually gifted were included in the present study. Forty of the participants in this study met DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for ASD; the remaining 41 participants did not meet diagnostic criteria for an Axis I or Axis II psychological disorder. Statistical analyses included independent-samples t tests and split-plot analyses. Results of the current study demonstrate that statistically significant differences exist between gifted youth with and without ASD in the areas of processing speed, adaptive functioning, psychosocial/behavioral functioning, and social skills, despite equivalent verbal and nonverbal intellectual functioning. The current study is unique in that it is the first to examine these domains of functioning and make empirical comparisons of characteristics among gifted individuals with ASD using a group study design. Importantly, this study has significant implications for diagnosis of ASD and will provide an empirical foundation upon which to develop effective classroom interventions to best meet the unique needs of this twice-exceptional population.

Keywords

Autism, Giftedness, Twice Exceptional

Pages

xiv, 193 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 172-183).

Copyright

Copyright 2010 Alissa F. Doobay

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