An exploratory study of suicidal ideation and comorbid disorders in adolescents and young adults with Asperger's syndrome

Oren Shtayermman, Fordham University

Abstract

Evidence suggests that suicidal ideation increases during adolescence. Currently, there are no data on the prevalence of suicidal ideation among adolescents and young adults diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (AS). This exploratory study examined the following in adolescents and young adults diagnosed with AS: (1) the level of suicidal ideation, prevalence of comorbid psychiatric disorders (Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder), degree of overt victimization, degree of relational victimization, degree of receiving prosocial behavior, total degree of peer victimization, and level of stigma; and (2) the association of suicidal ideation with: age, age at diagnosis, severity of AS symptomatology, Major Depressive Disorder, level of depressive symptomatology, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, level of anxiety symptomatology, degree of overt victimization, degree of relational victimization, degree of receiving prosocial behavior, total degree of peer victimization, or level of stigma. ^ A cross-sectional study using a self-administered mail questionnaire and a web-based questionnaire were used. Questionnaires were completed by each adolescent or young adult diagnosed with AS and one of his or her parents of that adolescent or young adult. Two samples were selected for this study. The first sample used snowball sampling, starting with parents of adolescents or young adults diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) who participated in a 2002 study. The second sample consisted of a volunteer sample of parents who visited one of the following web sites: (1) Asperger's Syndrome Parent Education Network; (2) Advocates for Individuals with High Functioning Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders; and (3) the National Alliance for Autism Research. A link to the web-based survey was placed on the "Research Projects" page of each of these web sites. There were four domains of independent variables: (1) sociodemographic characteristics; (2) clinical characteristics; (3) comorbid psychiatric disorders; and (4) psychosocial functioning. The following measures were obtained from the adolescent or the young adult diagnosed with AS: Level of suicidal ideation, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, peer victimization measures (overt victimization, relational victimization, prosocial behavior, total degree of peer victimization), level of stigma and level of social support. Measures that were gathered from the parent were: the Krug Asperger's Disorder Index and use of educational and mental health services. ^ The sample included 10 adolescents and young adults. Fifty percent of the sample had clinically significant levels of suicidal ideation, 20% met criteria for a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and 30% met criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Bivariate analyses revealed that severity of AS symptomatology was negatively correlated with level of suicidal ideation (r = -.88, p = .01). Adolescents and young adults who were employed were almost seven years older at the time of diagnosis as compared with adolescents who were not employed. Adolescents and young adults who were not employed had levels of AS symptomatology that was 23 points higher on the Krug Asperger's Disorder Index (p = .02). Other hypotheses were not supported but the small sample resulted in very low power for most tests. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) ^

Subject Area

Social Work|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Oren Shtayermman, "An exploratory study of suicidal ideation and comorbid disorders in adolescents and young adults with Asperger's syndrome" (January 1, 2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3222437.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3222437

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