De invloed van persoonlijkheid op de ontwikkeling van kinderen en jongeren met autismespectrumstoornis

Jitske Clarysse
De samenhang tussen persoonlijkheid en symptomen bij kinderen en jongeren met autismespectrumstoornis werd gemeten aan de hand van vragenlijstonderzoek over een periode van drie jaar.

Autisme hangt samen met persoonlijkheidsfactoren.

Een recent onderzoek van Universiteit Gent bestudeerde de persoonlijkheidsfactoren bij kinderen en jongeren met autismespectrumstoornis (ASS) en de ernst van hun symptomen doorheen de adolescentie. Volgens dit onderzoek blijven zowel de persoonlijkheid als de diagnose erg stabiel over een tijdsperiode van drie jaar. Toch is er ook ruimte voor verandering, waarbij jongeren meestal in positieve richting evolueren. Persoonlijkheid wordt sociaal wenselijker en symptomen dalen over tijd. Maar houdt de persoonlijkheid van een jongere met ASS ook rechtstreeks verband met zijn of haar symptomen?

Het huidig onderzoek naar autisme probeert om bepaalde combinaties van persoonlijkheidstrekken, ook wel "trekprofielen" genoemd, te linken aan ASS. Dergelijke trekprofielen zouden kunnen helpen om autisme sneller te identificeren bij jonge kinderen en zo sneller in te grijpen. Deze profielen kunnen ook nuttig zijn om verschillende ontwikkelingsstoornissen van elkaar te onderscheiden. Daarnaast kunnen trekprofielen helpen verklaren waarom slechts een deel van de kinderen met autisme emotionele en gedragsproblemen ontwikkelt. Dergelijk onderzoek kan nuttige handvaten bieden voor de praktijk.

Het concept "persoonlijkheid" wordt in de psychologie voornamelijk beschreven aan de hand van gedragsmatige verschillen tussen mensen, terwijl ook de diagnose "autismespectrumstoornis" gesteld wordt op basis van gedrag. Door deze gemeenschappelijke insteek verwachtte men dan ook sterke verbanden terug te vinden tussen beide concepten.

Het onderzoek toonde aan dat de persoonlijkheidstrek "welwillendheid" op verschillende tijdstippen samenhangt met de ernst van de symptomen. De nadruk ligt hierbij voornamelijk op twee facetten van "welwillendheid", namelijk "egocentrisme" en "gehoorzaamheid". Hoe meer "egocentrisme" en hoe minder "gehoorzaamheid" een jongere vertoont, hoe meer autismesymptomen zijn of haar ouders zullen rapporteren. Omgekeerd zullen jongeren waarbij meer symptomen worden gerapporteerd, ook meer "egocentrisme" en minder "gehoorzaamheid" vertonen.

Daarnaast vertoont "intellect" een verband met autisme. "Intellect" staat hierbij niet gelijk aan de IQ-score, maar aan het algemeen inzicht en de vaardigheid om zich helder uit te drukken. Hoe minder inzicht en communicatieve vaardigheden men waarneemt bij een jongere met autisme, hoe ernstiger de symptomen meestal zijn en omgekeerd.

Men zou dus kunnen stellen dat psychologen extra alert moeten zijn bij kinderen en jongeren die meer "egocentrisme" en minder "gehoorzaamheid" of "intellect" vertonen. Psychologen zouden zich ook bewust moeten zijn van deze moeilijkheden bij kinderen en jongeren met ASS. Maar dergelijke conclusies blijken nogal kort door de bocht. "Dat twee concepten samenhangen betekent niet altijd dat het ene het andere ook veroorzaakt. Persoonlijkheid kon in dit onderzoek slechts in beperkte mate de ernst van de symptomen drie jaar later voorspellen. Dus, alvorens deze verbanden bruikbaar en betrouwbaar te kunnen omzetten naar de praktijk, moeten we dit pilootonderzoek nog veel grondiger uitdiepen.", aldus UGent.

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master of Science in de Psychologie - afstudeerrichting Klinische Psychologie
Publicatiejaar
2016
Promotor(en)
Sarah De Pauw
Kernwoorden
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