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Does School Count? School Climate and Behavior Problems for Youth With ASD, ID, or TD


Perceptions of school climate have been found to impact levels of behavior problems and psychopathology in typically developing adolescents; however, less is known about the significance of school climate for youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability (ID). The present study investigated differences in youth and teacher reports of school climate based on disability status (ASD, ID or typical development [TD]), and determined the concurrent and predictive relationships between school climate and externalizing and internalizing behavior problems. Participants were 185 adolescents with ASD (N = 45), ID (N = 40), or TD (N = 100), assessed at ages 13 and 15. Youth with ASD or ID reported lower school engagement than their TD peers, and that teachers of youth with ASD reported lower peer acceptance for their students. Youth-reported affiliation with teachers and school bonding, as well as teacher-reported peer acceptance, were associated with externalizing and internalizing problems at age 13; additionally, teacher-reported peer acceptance was associated with internalizing problems. Age 13 externalizing problems and affiliation with teachers significantly predicted externalizing problems at age 15, while age 13 internalizing problems and classroom placement significantly predicted internalizing problems at age 15.

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