An investigation into the differential diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and attachment difficulties


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Kendall-Jones, Rowan (2014). An investigation into the differential diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and attachment difficulties. University of Birmingham. Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.

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This study reviews the evidence for commonalities in the behavioural presentation and functioning of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and attachment difficulties. A comparative analysis was conducted to evaluate current practice, assess the scale of misdiagnosis, and identify areas of differential presentation. Teacher-ratings of the frequency of behaviours were collected for two groups of primary school children matched for age, sex and school: one with recent diagnoses of ASD (n = 12) and a control group without diagnoses (n = 12). Three children with ASD diagnoses had higher ratings for attachment difficulties than ASD, at a level approaching significance. However, within-group analysis showed no significant difference between the median ASD and attachment difficulties ratings in the group with ASD diagnoses. A between-group comparison revealed significantly more behaviour suggestive of attachment difficulties in the ASD. Finally, the measure, based on ‘The Coventry Grid’ (Moran, 2010), was found to have acceptable reliability and good face and content validity. However, while the literature suggested good construct validity, analysis of dimensionality raised questions about how we construe the aetiology and mechanisms that constitute the phenomenology that informs the diagnosis of ASD and attachment difficulties. Implications for the ASD diagnostic process are discussed.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LC Special aspects of education


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