The relationship between psychosocial development and the Broader Autism Phenotype in college students
Wells, Jennifer B.
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This exploratory research study surveyed students between the ages of 18 and 25 enrolled in an introductory psychology course at a large, public institution in the Southeast. The study explored the psychosocial development of students with the Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP), and it serves as a foundation for understanding students with the BAP. Three research questions guided this study: (1) what are the demographic characteristics of students with the BAP? (2) is there a difference between the psychosocial development, as measured by the Student Developmental Task and Lifestyle Assessment (SDTLA) subtasks, of students with the BAP and neurotypical students? and (3) is there a relationship between the subscale scores on the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) (social skills, attention switching, attention to detail, communication, and imagination) and the students’ psychosocial development as measured by the SDTLA subtasks (emotional autonomy, interdependence, and peer relationships)? The study had several limitations including the sample size of students with the BAP, little variation in class representation, and scale reliability. Analyses of data collected showed a statistically significant difference between neurotypical students and those with the BAP in emotional autonomy, peer relationships, and interdependence. Furthermore, there was a relationship between the students’ scores on emotional autonomy and attention to detail, as well as relationships between imagination and the three subtasks of emotional autonomy, interdependence, and peer relationships. This study was investigative in nature and added to the growing literature on students with the BAP. Implications for practice from the study results include enhanced training for educators on characteristics of BAP students and early interventions in their college experiences.