Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is currently defined using criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). With the fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-5) forthcoming, one change the American Psychiatric Association has proposed is an increase in the number of overall symptoms necessary to meet criteria for ASD. Because social skills is well established as a core symptom of autism, the present study explores differences in social functioning using the Matson Evaluation of Social Skills in Youngsters-II (MESSY-II) in three groups of children ages 3-16 years including those diagnosed with ASD using the current criteria who will no longer meet criteria according to the proposed DSM-5, those who will still meet criteria for ASD using the proposed DSM-5, and a control group of typically developing children. In the present study (n = 205), significant differences were found between the control group and the two DSM groups combined. On the two factors of the MESSY-II representing inappropriate social skills, there were no significant differences in social functioning between those diagnosed with the proposed DSM-5 and those who met criteria under the DSM-IV-TR but will no longer meet criteria with the proposed DSM-5. Concerning the factor of the MESSY-II rating socially appropriate behavior, significantly more impairments were found in the DSM-5 group compared with those diagnosed with ASD according to the DSM-IV only, though both groups evinced severe impairments. The implications of these findings are important; though individuals who may no longer meet criteria were found to engage in slightly more appropriate social behavior, they functioned in the severely impaired range in terms of social skills. Further, children diagnosed with the different criteria demonstrated the same amount of inappropriate social behavior. Thus, individuals projected to no longer meet criteria for ASD appear to have clinically significant social impairments requiring intervention.



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Committee Chair

Matson, Johnny



Included in

Psychology Commons