Title: Adult Attitudes Toward Behaviors of a Six-year-old Boy with Autism
Source: Chambres, P., Auxiette, C., Vansingle, C., Gil, S. (2008). Adult Attitudes Toward Behaviors of a Six-year-old Boy with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders DOI: 10.1007/s10803-007-0519-5

A common experience reported by parents of children with autism is the perception of being ‘judged’ by other adults about their parenting skills or the appropriateness of behaviors displayed by their children. In order to understand this phenomenon, at team of French researchers conducted a very clever study using a methodology popular in social psychology research. The team showed clips of a video of a six year old boy with high functioning autism to 88 French adults. The clips showed the boy engaging in 4 different behaviors, namely: leaning back on a chair and moaning, having a temper tantrum without clear reasons, using a computer, and sitting at a table talking in front of a camera. One half of the adult participants were told that the child had Autism while the other half was not informed of the diagnosis. After showing the clips of each behavior, the adult participants were instructed to rate the child on 10 continuous dimensions (unruly, nice, alert, anxiety-ridden, etc). The authors found that when participants knew the clinical diagnosis of the child, they were more tolerant of the “negative” behaviors shown in the clips. Likewise, these informed adults were also more likely to rate the child positively in cognitive dimensions (intelligent, quick-minded, alert). The authors also found a gender effect. When the adults were informed, there was no difference between male and female participants. However, when the participants were uninformed, males were more harshly in the evaluation of the child than females. The authors commented that one possible reason that adults tend to show judgment towards parents of children with autism is that these children “look” like any typically developing child, so most people unfamiliar with the child would not know that the child had autism. The results are consistent with that idea indicating that when adults know that the child has autism they are more tolerant of behaviors that “do not conform to social norms” and see the child more positively in many dimensions. The results of this study could provide needed empirical support for the need of educational campaigns about ASDs targeted to the general population.

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One Response to Adults more tolerant when informed about Autism diagnosis?

  1. robin says:

    Ive actually experienced that the more people that know about my sons autism, the more tolerable they are.If people are aware, they are more tolerant understanding and patient with him.
    Mom in Arizona

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