Dr. Deborah Beidel


Asperger's Disorder (AD) is a pervasive developmental disorder in which individuals show impairment in social skills by engaging in eccentric behavior, which leads to social isolation and rejection. Social Phobia (SP) is a disorder in which individuals report excessive anxiety while in social situations, resulting in significant distress and avoidance of social situations. A diagnosis of either AD or SP in childhood bears a significant impact on academic, social, and emotional development. As a result, a child can find it difficult to establish friendships, resulting in feelings of loneliness. Although studies have addressed the issue of loneliness in children with SP, this issue has not been adequately addressed for children with AD. Additionally, it is not known if children with AD experience loneliness that is equal to or greater than children with SP. Using previously collected data, we found that child self-reported loneliness was highest in children with AD as compared to typically developing children (TD) and children with SP. Child self-reported anxiety and parental reports of their children's anxiety were highest in children with SP. Based on parental reports, children with AD were rated high in externalizing behaviors and children with SP were rated high in internalizing behaviors (i.e., anxiety). Furthermore, there is a positive relationship between child self-reported social withdrawal and parental report of social withdrawal in their children. A positive relationship between child self reported loneliness and anxiety was also identified. Results from this study will aid in the improvement of social skills treatment programs for children with AD and children with SP.

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