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Happiness, Self-Esteem, and Prosociality in Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from a UK Population Cohort Study

McChesney, G and Toseeb, U (2018) Happiness, Self-Esteem, and Prosociality in Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from a UK Population Cohort Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 11 (7). pp. 1011-1023. ISSN 1573-3432

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Abstract

High levels of childhood happiness, self-esteem, and prosociality are associated with positive social and emotionaloutcomes. Little is known about whether these constructs co-occur and how levels of co-occurrence are different inchildren with or without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Data was obtained from 13,285 11-year olds (408 withASD) from a UK based prospective cohort study. Latent class analysis revealed five distinct classes: The “very low pro-sociality class” (with ASD 32% vs. without ASD 7%) was characterized by children who were happy and had highself-esteem but they were not prosocial. The “low happiness class” (with ASD 3% vs. without ASD 3%), included thosechildren who had moderate self-esteem and were prosocial but were the least happy. Children in the “low to moder-ate positive functioning class” (with ASD 16% vs. without ASD 6%) were moderately happy and had the lowest self-esteem but were prosocial. The “moderate to high positive functioning class” (with ASD 17% vs. without ASD 23%)was characterized by children who were happy, had moderate self-esteem, and were very prosocial. The majority ofchildren were in the “optimum class” (with ASD 31% vs. without ASD 62%), and were very happy, very prosocialwith high self-esteem. Our findings demonstrate that for the majority of children in our sample, happiness, self-esteem, and prosociality co-occur. Furthermore, although as a group children with ASD have lower levels of positivefunctioning, our multivariable latent class approach suggests that nearly half of children with ASD are happy, havegood levels self-esteem, and are prosocial.

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