DOI: 10.3390/children10121927 ISSN: 2227-9067

A Sense of Belonging and Help Seeking: Examining Factors Related to the Mental Health of High School Students with High Autistic Traits without Diagnosis

Tomoko Omiya, Naoko Kumada Deguchi, Takashi Asakura
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

Certain individuals are clinically undiagnosed for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but exhibit strong ASD characteristics. This study examined the differences between a control group and a “high autistic traits” group involving individuals who scored 9 or higher on the Autism-Spectrum Quotient-16 Japanese Version, based on their sense of belonging, help-seeking style, and relationship with mental health. The participants were 608 Japanese public high school students. Of them, 129 (21.2%) and 479 (78.8%) were in the high autistic traits and control groups, respectively. A multiple regression analysis was performed using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) as the dependent variable for the groups. The analysis revealed no differences between the two groups regarding grade, gender, physical illness, insomnia, or mental health status; however, they differed regarding avoidant help-seeking style and teacher acceptance. Moreover, avoidant help-seeking scores in the high autistic traits group and teacher acceptance showed a significantly positive and significantly negative association with GHQ, respectively. The results indicated that children with autistic traits internally suppress them, experiencing distress. Teachers are aware that these students seek support from them, but the students seem reluctant to ask them for help. This can negatively impact the mental health of children with high autistic traits.

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