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IES Grant

Title: A Longitudinal Investigation of the Friendship and Bullying Experiences of Middle School Youth with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability
Center: NCSER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Fisher, Marisa Awardee: Michigan State University
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (8/16/2017-8/15/2021) Award Amount: $399,592
Type: Training Award Number: R324B170003
Description:

Mentors: Connie Kasari; Ryan Bowles; Emily Bouck

Purpose: The Principal Investigator (PI) will conduct a program of research to better understand the risk factors and consequences of bullying for middle school students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID) while she participates in mentoring and training activities to develop expertise in ASD, school-based research, multi-level modeling, and grant-writing. The PI intends to conduct a longitudinal investigation to determine the risk factors (e.g., loneliness, poor social skills, internalizing and externalizing problems) and academic, emotional, and behavioral consequences of bullying for youth with ASD and how these risk factors and outcomes compare to youth with ID and students without disabilities. While students with disabilities experience significantly higher rates of bullying than students without disabilities, little is known about the factors that contribute to victimization or the consequences for these students, particularly those with ASD and ID. There is also limited research on how the experience of bullying for students with ASD is similar to or different from that of students with ID and students without disabilities. The PI aims to address this research gap by conducting a longitudinal investigation of the risk factors and consequences of bullying for students with ASD, students with ID, and students without disabilities.

Research Plan: The PI will conduct an exploratory study to address the following key aims: (1) to adapt and expand current measures to ensure they accurately capture the bullying experiences of students with ASD and ID and that students with ASD and ID are able to complete them; (2) to examine relations between potential risk factors and bullying for students with ASD, students with ID, and students without disabilities over time; and (3) to identify the academic, emotional, and behavioral consequences of negative relationships, particularly bullying, over time for students with ASD, students with ID, and students without disabilities. In Phase 1 the PI will adapt and validate bullying assessments that will be used in the later phase. The PI will work with an expert panel to adapt existing self-report questionnaires developed for youth with disabilities to be appropriate for youth with ASD and ID. The PI will then pilot the adapted questionnaires with a sample of students with ASD and students with ID. Probing cognitive interviewing techniques will be used to determine whether students understand the question and what supports students may need to more accurately complete the questionnaires. Responses on the adapted questionnaires will then be compared to open-ended responses related to bullying on the Autism Diagnostics Observation Schedule Second Edition (ADOS-2) as well as to teacher and peer reports of bullying. In Phase 2 the PI will conduct a longitudinal study with a group of students with ASD, students with ID, and students without disabilities from the start of sixth grade to the end of eighth grade. Students will complete measures related to bullying, loneliness, friendship qualities, and symptoms of internalizing and externalizing problems at nine time points across 3 years. Teachers will complete measures of students' social skills and internalizing and externalizing problems; schools will provide information on students' attendance and grades. Data will be analyzed to determine the risk factors and consequences of bullying for students with ASD, students with ID, and students without disabilities.

Career Plan: Through a career development plan, the PI intends to develop competencies in: (a) assessing and conducting research with students with ASD; (b) conducting research in school settings; (c) planning, conducting, and analyzing results from studies using multi-level models; and (d) developing competitive grant proposals. To accomplish these goals, the PI will engage in monthly meetings with mentors, coursework in statistics, workshops on longitudinal data analysis and multi-level modeling, a training workshop on the ADOS-2, and grant-writing workshops.


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