Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 12, pp 2680–2692 | Cite as

Understanding Parent–Child Social Informant Discrepancy in Youth with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Matthew D. LernerEmail author
  • Casey D. Calhoun
  • Amori Yee Mikami
  • Andres De Los Reyes
Original Paper


We investigated discrepancies between parent- and self-reported social functioning among youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Three distinct samples showed discrepancies indicating that parents viewed their children as performing one standard deviation below a standardization mean, while youth viewed themselves as comparably-skilled relative to peers. Discrepancies predicted lower parental self-efficacy, and lower youth-reported hostile attributions to peers, marginally-lower depression, and decreased post-treatment social anxiety. Discrepancies predicted outcomes better than parent- or youth-report alone. Informant discrepancies may provide valuable additional information regarding child psychopathology, parental perceptions of parenting stress, and youth treatment response. Findings support a model where abnormal self-perceptions in ASD stem from inflated imputation of subjective experiences to others, and provide direction for improving interventions for youth and parents.


High functioning autism Social skills Self-perception Social cognition Informant discrepancies 



The authors would like to thank the participating families, whose valuable time and dedication made this study possible. This research was partially supported by an Endowed Graduate Fellowship from the Jefferson Scholars’ Foundation, a Doris Buffett Fellowship from the University of Virginia Center for Children, Families, and the Law, a Fellowship from the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course, and a Transition Outcomes Research Award from Commonwealth Autism Service to Matthew Lerner. The sponsors of the study had no role in study design, data interpretation, or writing of the report. Previous versions of these analyses were presented at the 2009 Association for Psychological Science Convention, The 2010 International Meeting for Autism Research, and the 2011 International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology Meeting.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew D. Lerner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Casey D. Calhoun
    • 2
  • Amori Yee Mikami
    • 3
  • Andres De Los Reyes
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Maryland, College ParkCollege ParkUSA

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