Growing up with autism: Experiences of adults on the spectrum and associations with depression




Kingsley, Amelia

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the lived experiences of adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and factors potentially associated with symptoms of depression. While depression is a commonly occurring comorbid disorder for individuals with ASD, the current body of research attempting to identify specific factors associated with depression is relatively limited. A mixed methods design was utilized, and both quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted. Specifically the study attempted to identify whether perceived quality of parental relationships, gender, past involvement in extracurricular activities, number of friends, and involvement in past counseling services predict symptoms of depression among adults with ASD. One hundred and twenty six adults with ASD completed a survey questionnaire regarding their lived experiences, ASD, and symptoms of depression. One-way ANOVAs were conducted to examine potential relationships between depression and perceived quality of parental relationship, gender, past involvement in extracurricular activities and past involvement in counseling services. Additionally, a multiple regression was utilized to determine whether or not number of friends was associated with depression. Finally, thematic analysis was used to identify emergent themes. The results demonstrated perceived quality of parent relationship and past involvement in extracurricular activities predicted symptoms of depression, although gender, number of friends, and past involvement in counseling services did not have a predictive relationship with symptoms of depression. The themes that emerged included both positive and negative aspects of emotional experiences, interpersonal relations, isolation, sensory experiences, and having a unique perspective. These results inform school psychologists of factors that may impact the development of depressive symptoms among individuals with ASD.