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Individual, Family, and Peer Factors and the Mental Health of Adolescents with ASD

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Greenlee, Jessica

Winter, Marcia

Virginia Commonwealth University


2 years

Weatherstone Predoctoral Fellowship



United States



Compared to their typically developing peers, adolescents with ASD are at high risk for comorbid mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. The goal of this study is to test several ways in which a combination of factors influence the mental health of youth with autism. These factors include individual (e.g. social skills), family (e.g. family cohesion) and peer factors (e.g. victimization).
Uniting family-systems approaches with the ecological model of autism, we hypothesize a model in which individual, family, and peer factors and processes interact to predict adolescents’ mental health symptoms.
This study will collect reports of mental health symptoms from 200 caregivers and adolescents (ages 13-17) with ASD via a strengths-based online approach.
A secondary goal of this study is to explore correlates and effects of discrepancy in ratings of mental health symptoms of adolescents with ASD. Discrepancies between caregiver and youth ratings of mental health symptoms are common, but little has been done to explore contextual factors related to discrepancies in ratings. We hypothesize that individual, parent and family factors will be associated with greater discrepancies in reports of depressive and anxiety symptoms.
The proposed study is critical in understanding the complex interplay of multiple contextual factors on the well-being of adolescents with ASD and consistent with the goals of the Weatherstone fellowship to gain knowledge regarding psychosocial and behavioral challenges and psychiatric comorbidities.

Family Factors, Psychiatric Comorbidities, Psychosocial Environment, Multivariate Analyses, Behavioral/ Psychosocial/ Educational, Etiology/ Risk Factors, Treatment/ Prevention, Adolescents/ Young Adults (13-25 Years), Adults (>25 Years), Autism Spectrum Disorder, Aspergers/ High-Functioning Individuals With ASD

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