Date of Award

Fall 12-11-2015

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Tammy D. Barry

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Sara Jordan

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Randolph Arnau

Committee Member 3 Department

Psychology

Abstract

As autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is more commonly diagnosed, having knowledge of the disorder becomes increasingly important for educators, parents, and the general public. Previous research regarding knowledge of ASD, focused mainly on knowledge possessed by those in the educational field, has found that individuals may perceive themselves as possessing average knowledge regarding ASD but have low actual knowledge (as defined by the researchers) regarding specific aspects of the disorder (Williams et al., 2011). Studies support the notion that there is a general lack of knowledge of different aspects of ASD among teachers; however, there has been little research regarding the level of awareness concerning ASD possessed by individuals outside of the educational sphere. The primary goal of this study was to create a standard measure to evaluate perceived versus actual knowledge of ASD. A sample of undergraduate students was administered A Survey of Knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASK-ASD), as well as a measure of knowledge of ADHD and a measure of knowledge of HIV/AIDS. The ASK-ASD demonstrated test-retest reliability, adequate internal consistency, and fair validity coefficients. An exploratory factor analysis of the ASK-ASD revealed a two-factor structure of knowledge of ASD. Additionally, exploratory analyses revealed several interesting correlations between ASD knowledge, demographic characteristics, and source of ASD knowledge.

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