Stigma, social comparison and self-esteem in transition age adolescent individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and individuals with Borderline Intellectual Disability

Cameron, Alasdair (2014) Stigma, social comparison and self-esteem in transition age adolescent individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and individuals with Borderline Intellectual Disability. D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Background: Young people who have intellectual disabilities (ID) or Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may experience stigma which can lead to them developing negative views about themselves. However, it has been shown that individuals with ID can mediate the impact of stigma through the comparisons they make with other people. People with ASD might have difficulty making these “social comparisons” because of their social cognitive difficulties. The current study explores whether a group of young people with ASD who do not have an ID or borderline/mild ID, recognise and report experiences of stigma similarly, whether they have similar levels of self-esteem, and whether individuals with ASD make social comparisons in a similar way to individuals with borderline/mild ID.
Method: A group of young people with ASD, without learning disability, and a group with borderline/mild ID were recruited. Measures of stigma, self-esteem and social comparison were completed with participants. The social comparison measure was completed in relation to a person described as having a developmental disability and a typically developing individual. A subsample of participants in each group were asked to provide more detailed examples of the types of stigma they experienced to confirm that their reported experiences accurately reflected experiencing stigma.
Results: Participants in the ASD group reported more experiences of being made fun of, whereas those in the borderline/mild ID group reported more experiences of being treated differently to their peers. The specific examples of stigma experiences were similar between the groups. Despite experiencing stigma, the self-esteem scores of both groups were positive. The social comparisons that both groups made in relation to developmentally disabled and typically developing peers were also positive. However the ASD group compared themselves significantly less positively to a typically developing peer than to a developmentally disabled peer.

Conclusions: Young people with ASD were aware of facing stigma and compared themselves positively to individuals with intellectual and social difficulties, and less positively to typically developing individuals. The study demonstrates that individuals with ASD are able to understand situations and to make comparisons that appear to require a degree of social understanding. It remains uncertain whether making positive social comparisons helped participants to manage the impact of stigma, therefore this is an area that requires further investigation.

Item Type: Thesis (D Clin Psy)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Supervisor's Name: Jahoda, Professor Andrew
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Mr Alasdair Cameron
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5758
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2014 09:12
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2014 13:58

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