An Investigation of Coping Strategies and Mental Health among Peer-Victimized Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Committee MemberSchwartz, Kelly
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AbstractThe way in which students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) cope with peer victimization (i.e., bullying) has been relatively unexplored within the literature. Despite the growing number of studies revealing high rates of peer victimization among students with ASD, much is still unknown on how to offset the negative psychological outcomes of this form of abuse. As such, the current study examined coping strategies in relation to anxious and depressive symptoms among peer-victimized students with ASD. Coping strategies were examined using a modified version of Causey and Dubow’s (1992) Self-Report Coping Scale (SRCS; Kochenderfer-Ladd & Skinner, 2002; Wright, Banerjee, Hoek, Rieffe, & Novin, 2010). The sample included 49 students with ASD and intact cognitive functioning, ranging between ages 8 to 17 years (grades 4-12). One parent (n = 48) and one teacher (n = 34) were also invited to participate for each student participant. Consistent with previous research, the results from the current study revealed high rates of peer victimization (using the past month as a timeframe), with the highest rates reported by parents (83.3%) and teachers (73.5%). Examination of coping strategies in relation to mental health among peer-victimized students with ASD revealed that externalizing coping predicted a significant increase in depressive symptoms, whereas trivializing coping (i.e., making light of the problem) predicted a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms. The findings from this study provide important insights into the coping strategies used by students with ASD, as well as suggestions for future research and intervention efforts.
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