, Volume 38, Issue 7, pp 1320-1327
Date: 23 Feb 2008

Adult Attitudes Toward Behaviors of a Six-year-old Boy with Autism

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Abstract

Parents report that their children with autism are often judged as undisciplined and rude (e.g., Peeters, Autism: From theoretical understanding to educational intervention, 1997). The phenomenon of a negative view of individuals with autism was studied here. Four behaviors (two problematic and two non-problematic) produced by a six-year-old child with autism were assessed on social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions by 88 adults in an “informed” or “uninformed” condition. The child was perceived more positively when identified as having autism. However, this effect was dependent on the type of behavior and the evaluative dimension used. The results indicate that the mere fact of being informed of a child’s disability triggers the use of a different standard of comparison than that employed to evaluate typical children (Mussweiler and Strack, J Pers Soc Psychol 78:1038–1052, 2000).