Article

Loneliness, friendship quality and the social networks of adolescents with high-functioning autism in an inclusive school setting

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Abstract

By definition, children with autism have poor peer relationships despite age and ability. When children enter adolescence, social problems typically worsen and feelings of loneliness and isolation may emerge. Thus, the overarching goal of the current study is to examine the social–emotional relationships of adolescents with autism and their typically developing (TD) classmates. Participants included 20 adolescents, 7 adolescents with autism and 13 TD classmates. All participants were enrolled in a drama class at a regular education high school in the Los Angeles area. Results indicate that adolescents with autism experienced significantly more loneliness than their TD classmates, had significantly poorer friendship quality in companionship and helpfulness, and had significantly lower social network status than their TD classmates. In addition, 92.4% of TD adolescents had secondary or nuclear social network centrality, which means that those adolescents were significantly connected and recognised in their classroom social structure although 71.4% of the adolescents with autism were either isolated or peripheral in their classroom. These findings imply that although inclusion in regular classrooms may allow adolescents with autism to be involved in the social structure of their classroom, they experienced more loneliness, poorer friendship quality and social network status as compared with their classmates. These results suggest that, perhaps, more intensive social skills' interventions that focus on friendship development are needed in adolescents with autism.

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... For children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), making and keeping friends can be difficult. Compared to their typically developing (TD) peers, children with ASD report poorer friendship quality and higher levels of loneliness (Bauminger & Kasari, 2000;Humphrey & Symes, 2011;Locke, Ishijima, Kasari, & London, 2010). Social skills interventions for individuals with ASD are widely supported (Reichow, Steiner, & Volkmar, 2012;White, Keonig, & Scahill, 2007). ...
... Moreover, children with ASD are less socially integrated with their TD peers, tending to hang out at the periphery of peer groups or in isolation during unstructured social periods (Dean, Harwood, & Kasari, 2017;Kasari, Locke, Gulsrud, & Rotheram-Fuller, 2011;Rotheram-Fuller, Kasari, Chamberlain, & Locke, 2010). When children or adolescents with ASD report having a friend, they report lower levels of closeness and higher conflict than their classmates (Bauminger & Kasari, 2000;Capps, Sigman, & Yirmiya, 1995;Locke et al., 2010). Difficulties with making and maintaining friendships place adolescents with ASD at an increased risk for loneliness and social isolation (Humphrey & Symes, 2011;Lasgaard, Nielsen, Eriksen, & Goossens, 2010;Locke et al., 2010). ...
... When children or adolescents with ASD report having a friend, they report lower levels of closeness and higher conflict than their classmates (Bauminger & Kasari, 2000;Capps, Sigman, & Yirmiya, 1995;Locke et al., 2010). Difficulties with making and maintaining friendships place adolescents with ASD at an increased risk for loneliness and social isolation (Humphrey & Symes, 2011;Lasgaard, Nielsen, Eriksen, & Goossens, 2010;Locke et al., 2010). ...
Article
Background Friendships are vital to children's social well-being and overall development, and they can also serve as a protector factor from peer victimization and bullying. For children with ASD, friendship development can be an area of challenge. Friendship interventions may help children and adolescents with ASD in developing the skills for making and keeping friends. Method This systematic review examined friendship interventions for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It also explored measures of friendship skills in children with ASD. Twenty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria: (a) experimental intervention studies focused on improving friendships of individuals with ASD, (b) the measurement of friendship outcomes, and (c) strong or acceptable methodological ratings. Results Fifteen unique interventions were tested across the 27 studies. Thirteen interventions included strategies specifically focused on improving (making and maintaining) friendships in the participants with ASD. Friendship interventions were primarily focused on behaviorally based social skills building and varied in implementation settings. Friendship measures included the use of parent reports, child and adolescent surveys and questionnaires, peer nominations, and sociometric ratings. Conclusion The results highlighted the benefit of including targeted friendship-building strategies in social and friendship interventions and the value of multiple perspectives when measuring friendship. The findings of the study can influence how families and practitioners collaborate to support children and adolescents with ASD in the development and maintenance of their friendships.
... Research shows that the lack of well-being is caused by difficulties experienced with socialemotional skills, such as working together in groups, asking questions, striking up a conversation, and a lack of awareness of social problems (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Autisme, no date; Starr et al., 2003;Cai and Richdale, 2016;Dijkhuis et al., 2017;Volkmar, Jackson and Hart, 2017;Valérie Van Hees, Tinneke Moyson, Ph.D. & Herbert Roeyers, 2018). This not only results, in poor academic achievement and slower progression rates, (Bakker et al., 2020;Comer & Comer, 2019;Shattuck et al., 2012;Welsh et al., 2001), but may also cause negative peer interactions (Locke et al., 2010;Bolourian, Zeedyk, and Blacher, 2018), an increase in social anxiety (Bellini and Peters, 2008), feelings of loneliness and isolation (Bauminger, Shulman and Agam, 2003;Humphrey and Symes, 2010;Locke et al., 2010), and a decrease in self-esteem (Tantam, 2000). All these components negatively affect the students' sense of well-being (Garrison-Harrell, Kamps and Kravits, 1997;Welsh et al., 2001;Locke et al., 2010;Calder, Hill and Pellicano, 2012). ...
... Research shows that the lack of well-being is caused by difficulties experienced with socialemotional skills, such as working together in groups, asking questions, striking up a conversation, and a lack of awareness of social problems (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Autisme, no date; Starr et al., 2003;Cai and Richdale, 2016;Dijkhuis et al., 2017;Volkmar, Jackson and Hart, 2017;Valérie Van Hees, Tinneke Moyson, Ph.D. & Herbert Roeyers, 2018). This not only results, in poor academic achievement and slower progression rates, (Bakker et al., 2020;Comer & Comer, 2019;Shattuck et al., 2012;Welsh et al., 2001), but may also cause negative peer interactions (Locke et al., 2010;Bolourian, Zeedyk, and Blacher, 2018), an increase in social anxiety (Bellini and Peters, 2008), feelings of loneliness and isolation (Bauminger, Shulman and Agam, 2003;Humphrey and Symes, 2010;Locke et al., 2010), and a decrease in self-esteem (Tantam, 2000). All these components negatively affect the students' sense of well-being (Garrison-Harrell, Kamps and Kravits, 1997;Welsh et al., 2001;Locke et al., 2010;Calder, Hill and Pellicano, 2012). ...
... This not only results, in poor academic achievement and slower progression rates, (Bakker et al., 2020;Comer & Comer, 2019;Shattuck et al., 2012;Welsh et al., 2001), but may also cause negative peer interactions (Locke et al., 2010;Bolourian, Zeedyk, and Blacher, 2018), an increase in social anxiety (Bellini and Peters, 2008), feelings of loneliness and isolation (Bauminger, Shulman and Agam, 2003;Humphrey and Symes, 2010;Locke et al., 2010), and a decrease in self-esteem (Tantam, 2000). All these components negatively affect the students' sense of well-being (Garrison-Harrell, Kamps and Kravits, 1997;Welsh et al., 2001;Locke et al., 2010;Calder, Hill and Pellicano, 2012). It has been noted that these students do not lack the intelligence to study in higher education, nor the willingness to learn (Bakker et al., 2019;Bakker et al., 2020;Dijkhuis et al., 2017;MacLeod et al., 2018;Van Heijst & Geurts, 2015). ...
Thesis
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Experiencing a positive state of well-being throughout higher education is not a given for every student. Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder experience a significantly lower sense of well-being during their time in higher education which is often caused by a lack of social skills. On the other hand, it is difficult for educational professionals in higher education to support this specific student group in their development. This article researches the practicality and usability of a Table-Top Role-Playing game, The Sisters of Nature, that aims to increase the social skills development of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in higher education. The literary research has been used to create a conceptual framework and design requirements that led to the design of the game. The practicality of the TTRPG has been researched through a walkthrough of a partially detailed product. Several scenarios of the TTRPG were tested with educational professionals of different levels of experience in both TTRPG's and education. The usability of the TTRPG as a new educational method has been researched by analyzing the data through the challenge & support model. The data has been analyzed with another researcher to ensure the validity of the results. A major outcome of this research has been the level of support needed as an educational professional when implementing new educational methods depending on the levels of experience. The article concludes with a discussion of ways to strengthen the future development of the TTRPG.
... Companionship and emotional support were evident as characteristics individuals look for in a friend. Participants frequently mentioned a friend as being someone who supports them, such as helping them, sticking up for them, looking after them, and being there for them (Carrington et al., 2003;Howard et al., 2006;Locke et al., 2010;Petrina et al., 2017;Sedgewick et al., 2016;Vine Foggo & Webster, 2017). For example, when defining a friend, a participant in Sedgewick et al. (2016) said, "they would always look after me" (p. ...
... Participants also mentioned seeking out friends they could relate to, who were like them, understood them, and/or accepted them (Cook et al., 2016;Cook et al., 2018;Locke et al., 2010;Vine Foggo & Webster, 2017). In Cook et al. (2016) the participants, who were all male, were more likely to befriend other peers with autism, peers who accepted them, peers with a matched level, or peers who shared the same interests as them. ...
... Additional attributes individuals with ASD sought in friends included someone who is trustworthy (Carrington et al., 2003;Locke et al., 2010;Vine Foggo & Webster, 2017), respectful (Cook et al., 2016;Daniel & Billingsley, 2010;Vine Foggo & Webster, 2017), kind (Vine Foggo & Webster, 2017), patient (Locke et al., 2010), tolerant (Locke et al., 2010), someone who keeps secrets (Carrington et al., 2003), someone they keep in touch with, play with, and see regularly (Calder et al., 2012;Carrington et al., 2003;Howard et al., 2006;Sedgewick et al., 2016), someone who has shared interests and they can relate to and talk to (Cook et al., 2016;Howard et al., 2006;Locke et al., 2010), and someone they can laugh with (Sedgewick et al., 2016). ...
Article
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The rate of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has continued to rise in prevalence to 1 in 54 with males being four times more likely to be diagnosed as having ASD (Maenner et al., 2020). Which leads to questions regarding if females are less likely to have ASD or do females present differently with ASD. This literature review looks at the differences between males and females with ASD in the current literature over the last five years. Articles were coded for demographics information and open coding was used until nine distinct categories emerged. These categories and implications for practice and future research will be shared.
... Social differences continue to be misperceived as evidence of autistic individuals not wanting or being unable to engage in social relationships with others (Causton- Theoharis et al., 2009). Studies have documented autistic individuals facing higher levels of loneliness, social disengagement, exclusion, and bullying despite having the desire for social connections (Crompton et al., 2020;Locke et al., 2010;Sasson et al., 2017;Shattuck et al., 2011;van Roekel et al., 2010;White & Roberson-Nay, 2009). Lack of social connectedness was found to be related to loneliness and higher levels of depressive and anxious symptoms (Mazurek, 2014;Stice & Lavner, 2019). ...
... Autistic members of TEAM seemed to welcome new experiences and were motivated to form connections with others. Researchers in the past have recorded similar observations (Curtin et al., 2016;Lasgaard et al., 2010;Locke et al., 2010), despite a persistent myth that autistic individuals are not interested in social connections. However, it is also important to note the barriers that autistic individuals face when their socialization styles are not supported by the environment (S. ...
Article
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Past studies indicate that many autistic youth benefit from support with developing social relationships, exploring leadership opportunities, and engaging in post-secondary education. Teens Engaged as Mentors (TEAM) is an innovative mentoring program that provides socialization and community engagement opportunities in a safe environment for youth with and without autism. This qualitative study explored how participants and their caregivers perceived participation in TEAM. Stakeholder focus groups were conducted annually from 2016 to 2020 with 16 autistic mentees (ages 9–13), 30 autistic and neurotypical mentors (ages 14–21), and 30 caregivers. Participants reported enjoying TEAM because of increased socialization opportunities, which promoted friendships and openness toward others. Caregivers reported growth in their children’s social skills and confidence throughout their participation.
... In terms of comorbid ADHD, this comorbidity contributes to greater challenges in communication, socialization, and psychosocial functioning for adolescents with ASD beyond those found in ASD alone (Holtmann et al., 2007;Sikora et al., 2012). Meanwhile, anxiety and depression have been found to be associated with greater social challenges, such as quality and quantity of friendships, lower self-esteem, and heightened feeling of loneliness (Bellini, 2004;Chang et al., 2012;Locke et al., 2010;Mazurek & Kanne, 2010;White & Roberson-Nay, 2009). Furthermore, these symptoms have been posited to be linked to social challenges by contributing to further social withdrawal, either as a result of underlying anxiety and depression (Mazurek & Kanne, 2010;Whitehouse et al., 2009), or anxiety and depression resultant from preexisting negative experiences with peers (e.g., victimization and rejection; Chang et al., 2012). ...
... Whether it is the former or latter driving increased social withdrawal, avoidance of these social experiences may limit interactions with peers for Autistic individuals; therefore limiting opportunities to improve social skills and creating a detrimental cycle (Chang et al., 2012). Although there are a number of efficacious social skills intervention for increasing social skills in autistic youth (Gates et al., 2017), it is imperative to evaluate not only direct outcomes (e.g., social skills and friendships), but also comorbid symptoms outcomes; particularly given that social skill deficits are not the only barriers to friendships (e.g., Chang et al., 2012;Locke et al., 2010). ...
Article
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Exploration of potential preliminary screeners, and examination of social intervention outcomes for effects on comorbid symptoms is imperative. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach & Rescorla, Achenbach and Rescorla, Manual for the ASEBA school-age forms & profiles, University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth & Families, 2001) provides a potential ASD screener and intervention outcome evaluation. This study had two aims: (1) to examine CBCL scales scores as a potential ASD screener; (2) to investigate PEERS® outcomes via the CBCL for Autistic adolescents. Results indicated elevated scores on four CBCL scales in the ASD groups, contrasted to a typically-developing group. Furthermore, decreases in the two CBCL scales for adolescents that received the intervention were found. Findings support prior research indicating a unique CBCL elevation pattern as a potential screener for ASD, and provide additional support for the efficaciousness of PEERS®.
... As children with autism become more involved in inclusive educational programs, educators are increasingly concerned about creating classroom communities that allow all children with autism to be accepted and accepted as members of their class. However, the inclusion of children with autism in the inclusion classroom does not guarantee that they will be acceptable, valued and included [2,3,4,5]. In a recent study of social networks of children with loneliness, the quality of friendships and high-functioning autism, about fifty percent of children reported that they felt not included in their class and felt lonely and socially isolated [2]. ...
... However, the inclusion of children with autism in the inclusion classroom does not guarantee that they will be acceptable, valued and included [2,3,4,5]. In a recent study of social networks of children with loneliness, the quality of friendships and high-functioning autism, about fifty percent of children reported that they felt not included in their class and felt lonely and socially isolated [2]. This presentation is disturbing as autism is now recognized as the most common neurological disorder and a common developmental disability affecting children; Most of whom attend mainstream classrooms and are at risk of social exclusion. ...
Article
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This study works to identify the effects of autism on parents, siblings, and teachers. How autism affects a family and its members, how friends react to their autistic friend, neighbor's perception, and teachers' behavior towards autistic children. After some previous studies, an empirical efficacy framework was created and tested through quantitative techniques. In-depth interview questions were set for conducting a survey with the Parents, Siblings, and Teachers. The results were examined using Cronbach's α, Pearson's correlation and regression analysis strategies. The study examines the relationship between the impact of autism on parents, siblings, and teachers showing various impact by autistic children through the different phases of his life and with his association with different people in society. The study presents a comprehensive and recent review of the effects of autism. Parents who are the primary caregivers of these children were interviewed about their child's autism detection, access to services, and the impact of their family being affected by autism. The findings of the research can aid practitioners in the autism sector in focusing their efforts on areas that can be taken under observations for the improvement of autistic children as well as society.
... Clinically, researchers may ask which environment is most effective. Indeed, several studies have done so, particularly in the case of inclusive education, but have yielded mixed results [3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]. These debates may take on a different shape and tenor in different contexts around the globe, where prevalence of autism, structure of educational, medical, and social services, and ideas about autistic ways of being in the world vary [11,12]. ...
... We undertook a mixed-methods online survey study in Canada, the United States, Italy, France, and Germany to better understand the preferences and experiences of Black box Respondents in this group mentioned this theme primarily as an advantage/disadvantage, while the other respondent group did not, grey box Respondents in one group contested this theme (see *), while the other respondent group did not * Contested. Respondents mentioned this theme a similar number of times as an advantage and as a disadvantage (ratio advantage:disadvantage .4-. 6) autistic adults and parents/guardians of autistic people. While results from the quantitative analysis of this study [24] suggest that most participants do prefer autism-specific services overall, regardless of most demographics, many indicated that they prefer different categories of services (autism-specific, mixed-disability, or general) for different service types (school, vocational, support groups, etc.). ...
Article
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Many services can assist autistic people, such as early intervention, vocational services, or support groups. Scholars and activists debate whether such services should be autism-specific or more general/inclusive/mainstream. This debate rests on not only clinical reasoning, but also ethical and social reasoning about values and practicalities of diversity and inclusion. This paper presents qualitative results from a mixed-methods study. An online survey asked autistic adults and parents of autistic people of any age in Canada, the United States, Italy, France, and Germany what types of services they prefer (autism-specific, mixed-disability, or general/inclusive/mainstream). This paper presents the advantages and disadvantages of different service types, identified through inductive thematic coding and organized into higher-level themes focusing on clinical, structural, societal, interpersonal, and personal aspects of services. Autism-specific services were praised for addressing autism needs, helping clinically, and providing interpersonal benefits of others understanding autism; general services were praised for inclusion, helping clinically, community obligations and awareness, and social skills development. Looking at the interaction of these different aspects in respondent narratives nuances debates about autism-specificity, with a complex interplay between clinical, interpersonal, and societal aspects. Clinical and social perspectives are not necessarily separate and opposed, but intertwined based on different understandings of inclusion. Compared to parents, adults focused more on harm/safety issues, enjoyment, and stereotyping among other themes, attending to personal themes. These findings do not identify one best service type, but suggest that determining the right service in a given context may be informed by definitions of and goals about inclusion.
... There is a common misconception that autistic individuals who do not socially integrate with others do not want friends (Ahlers et al., 2017). By contrast, as demonstrated by Participant 10, many autistic individuals desire and are capable of developing reciprocal friendships (Kasari et al., 2011), and can distinguish poor quality friendships from good quality (Locke et al., 2010). However, as experienced by some autistic ISOCs in this study, this can be difficult in the complex social arena of a prison, which may be rife with social nuance. ...
... They support each other, a lot.So, there's no, like, mickey taking or animosity about doing programmes. This has been similarly suggested in school-based autism literature; which has highlighted how improving the autism awareness and understanding of other pupils in a mainstream classroom can facilitate inclusion of autistic pupils(Locke et al., 2010;Majoko, 2016). were obviously very aware that he didn't maintain the eye-contact, and prisoners seem to ...
Thesis
Research indicates that autistic individuals are no more likely to offend than anyone else in the general population. However, it has been suggested that when autistic individuals do offend, their offending behaviour can be contextualised by their autism. One of the most common forms of offending reported to be committed by autistic individuals are sexual offences, and research has outlined how autism can contribute to those offences. Additionally, recent research has also indicated that autistic prisoners may experience unique challenges and have specific support needs during their prison sentences, which potentially differ from their non-autistic peers. Despite this, little research has specifically explored how to work with, support and manage autistic individuals with sexual offence convictions (ISOCs) in prison-based interventions to address sexual offending. This thesis details an exploratory sequential mixed method approach used to explore effective work practices with autistic ISOCs in prison-based interventions to address sexual offending. Specifically, this thesis explored the following research questions; 'How appropriate are current prison-based sexual offending interventions for autistic ISOCs?' And 'What is best practice when working with autistic ISOCs in prison-based sexual offending interventions?'. To answer these research questions, the thesis sought to: (i) identify challenges associated with prison-based sexual offending interventions for autistic ISOCs; (ii) identify beneficial features of prison-based sexual interventions for autistic ISOCs; and (iii) to generate evidence-based, practical recommendations on how to work with autistic ISOCs in prison-based sexual offending interventions. This thesis is constructed of six chapters. Chapter 1 provides a broad introduction to the topic background and rationale of the thesis, concluding with the overarching research questions and aims. Chapter 2 provides a discussion of the methodological issues that were relevant to the empirical studies of the thesis, including a rationale for the mixed method design. Chapter 3 reports Study 1, which was a qualitative narrative exploration of the life stories of autistic ISOCs (N= 4). This study incorporated an inclusive, participatory autism research approach, and discusses how diversity and similarities in those life stories may be relevant for interventions. Chapter 4 reports Study 2, a multi-perspective qualitative study that utilised a phenomenologically informed thematic analysis to explore the issues surrounding working with autistic ISOCS in prison-based interventions to address sexual offending, from the perspectives of autistic ISOCs (N= 12) and staff (N= 13). Chapter 5 details Study 3, a quantitative study that sought to confirm qualitative findings reported in Chapter 4; relating to the relationships between autistic traits, the prison social climate, mental wellbeing and readiness to 6 engage with interventions in a sample of ISOCs serving prison sentences (N= 177). Finally, Chapter 6 provides a synthesis and general discussion of the collective findings from the empirical studies. Chapter 6 also details practical recommendations for working with autistic ISOCs in prison-based sexual offending interventions, directions for future research, highlights the original contributions of the thesis, considers broader limitations of the research, and offers a final conclusion.
... Nonetheless, sources of qualitative data included interviews, observations and documents [7,12] emphasizing two ways of collecting data if one wanted information about the lived experience of a phenomenon from another person, the traditional face to face interview and the written account of the experience, both could not be broken down easily by a statistical software. In this study, the researcher used specific methodologies such as in-depth interviews and note-taking, giving much attention to details and importance of the emotional content which opened up an array of human experiences of the subjects involved in the study. ...
... In this study, the researcher used specific methodologies such as in-depth interviews and note-taking, giving much attention to details and importance of the emotional content which opened up an array of human experiences of the subjects involved in the study. What one seeks from a research interview in phenomenological research is as complete a description as possible of the experience that a participant has lived through [12]. ...
Article
This study aims to describe indigenous peoples’ use of social media. There are 110 ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines who comprise nearly 15 percent of total population. Majority of indigenous peoples live in the island of Mindanao. Phenomenology was used for this study in explaining the experiences and perspectives of the Blaan students in using social media. Twenty-five Blaan students from Matanao, Davao del Sur were selected through purposive sampling. Through in-depth interviews and focus group discussion it was revealed that entertainment and leisure, emotional trauma and discrimination, research and educational purposes, and communication and socialization were the issues related to the Blaan students’ experiences on using social media. As regards insights in using social media, they identified time management, stand against discrimination, staying hopeful and positive, respecting and promoting culture, and prioritizing education. This study has significance not only in but also in the indigenous peoples’ cultural community in terms of promoting and preserving culture in the digital age.
... Including students with ASD in regular classrooms is considered an effective approach to promoting their societal acceptance (Keane et al., 2012;Ashman, 2015). For instance, previous studies have reported that the participation of students with ASD in regular classrooms enhances their social acceptance and academic performance (Chan and O'Reilly, 2008;Finke et al., 2009;Banda et al., 2010;Eldar et al., 2010;Locke et al., 2010;Keane et al., 2012;Martin et al., 2019). Specifically, typically developing students (students without ASD) become role models for students with ASD, who learn especially socially desirable behaviours from general students (Ashman, 2015;J-F et al., 2020). ...
... This campaign could be expanded to the community, where the masses could be educated to embrace persons with ASD as equal members of society. Also, education and social interventions have been considered useful in developing positive relationships between typically developing students and peers with ASD (Boutot, 2007;Locke et al., 2010). Policymakers and teachers could organise educational programmes and adopt strategies to encourage typically developing students to befriend their peers with ASD in regular schools. ...
Article
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The purpose of this study is to assess the intention of typically developing peers towards learning in the classroom with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In developing countries, such as Ghana, the body of literature on the relationship between students with disabilities and typically developing peers has been sparsely studied. Using Ajzen’s theory of planned behaviour as a theoretical framework for this study, 516 typically developing students completed four scales representing belief constructs, attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural controls (self-efficacy), hypothesised to predict behavioural intention. The data were subjected to a t-test, analysis of variance and structural equation modelling. The modelling confirmed the combining ability of attitude, subjective norms and perceived behavioural controls to predict intention. We conclude by revealing the need for policymakers to consider designing programmes aimed towards promoting social relationships between students with ASD and typically developing peers.
... These friendships provide security and social grounding, acting as a buffer to help students cope with challenges they encounter, further develop social skills, and experience a sense of belonging Hamm & Faircloth, 2005). Although clearly important from childhood to adolescence, students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) often experience difficulties navigating social interactions and building strong relationships with peers (Carter et al., 2008;Chung et al., 2012;Locke et al., 2010). ...
... Educators need information about evidence-based interventions that promote the inclusion and social flourishing of elementary and secondary-aged students with IDD. Research highlights that social interaction, mutual relationships, and even close friendships among students with and without IDD are possible (Biggs & Snodgrass, 2020), but these indicators of inclusion are not seen often enough in schools (Andzik et al., 2016;Carter et al., 2008;Chung et al., 2012;Locke et al., 2010Locke et al., , 2016. This review (a) mapped the literature related to peer networks, including variations and similarities in intervention components and (b) found that the determination of whether or not peer networks are evidence-based depends on the tools used for the appraisal. ...
Article
A systematic literature review was conducted to examine the evidence for peer network interventions for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Fifteen studies were identified and evaluated for methodological rigor using the quality indicators published by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and by examining the risk of bias. Relying only on the guidelines from the CEC, peer network interventions are an evidence-based practice for increasing the communication and interaction of students with IDD with their peers without disabilities. However, risk of bias assessment revealed several methodological issues, outcome measurement was generally restricted to being context-bound rather than generalized, and there is a need for further research at the middle school level, with students with intellectual disability who do not have an autism diagnosis, and with students who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Implications are provided about training and supporting school personnel to implement peer network interventions.
... Social and communication impairments are often tied to difficulties with developing these reciprocal friendships in childhood. In the regular classroom, autistic children may experience the social structure of inclusion, but often still appear on the fringe of social activities, with higher rates of loneliness and poorer friendship quality than their neurotypical classmates (Kasari et al., 2011;Locke et al., 2010). For example, in a study examining playground observations as well as self, teacher, and classmate reports, Kasari et al. (2011) found autistic children were more likely to be socially isolated, meaning not a part of any social group in the classroom, or identified as only having peripheral social status compared to their neurotypical peers. ...
... Other findings using measures of friendship quality, which evaluates the degree of companionship, help, security, and closeness between an identified friend, are often lower for autistic children and adolescents (Kasari et al., 2011;Locke et al., 2010). Friendship quality, however, is not commensurate with friendship satisfaction, as satisfaction with friendship may be fulfilled through a few friends or from friends outside the school setting (Petrina et al., 2017). ...
Article
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Difficulties with social interactions and communication that characterize autism persist in adulthood. While social participation in adulthood is often marked by social isolation and limited close friendships, this qualitative study describes the range of social participation activities and community contacts, from acquaintances to close relationships, that contributed to connection from the perspective of 40 autistic adults. Qualitative data from interviews around social and community involvement were analyzed and revealed five main contexts where social participation occurred: vocational contexts, neighborhoods, common interest groups, support services and inclusive environments, and online networks and apps. Implications for practice to support a range of social participation include engaging in newer social networking avenues, as well as traditional paths through employment and support services.
... There has been growing emphasis on the deficiency of social abilities that is commonly related to autism. Thus, researchers who are interested in autism have been attempting to elucidate how autism affects children on the spectrum's social development for over two decades (Shillingsburg and Juban, 2018) because differences in social development within children on the spectrum are considered to cause long-term, unfavourable effects on lives as related to peer relationships, student-teacher relationships, sociability in adult life, peer rejection, and loneliness (Locke et al., 2010;Caplan et al., 2016). Briefly, children on the spectrum exhibit many atypical behaviours related to social development that might affect their lives 22 in many ways. ...
Thesis
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This study attempts to clarify effects of gender differences on social development of children on the spectrum. However, this study first provides in-depth knowledge about social development in neurotypical children, the importance of social development for individuals, and social development of children and adults on the spectrum in advance of focussing on the effects of gender differences on social development of children on the spectrum. In this way, it is believed that the reader can gain fundamental knowledge about social development and, further, gain the opportunity to compare information about the above. This study also gives a critical literature review that offers a huge amount of knowledge from a number of academic studies, including different perspectives and results. Furthermore, another aim of the study is to provide information about current social development and gender differences in autism. In addition, an explanation about what kind of research gaps and inconsistencies exist with regard to the effects of gender differences on social development of children on the spectrum. In summary, even though there are some conflicting studies about gender differences in autism, this study partly argues that there are clear differences about the social sufficiency of boys and girls on the spectrum. In particular, it is recognised that girls on the spectrum are more socially sufficient than boys during early childhood. Key words: effects of gender differences in autism, social development of children on the spectrum, social differences in boys and girls on the spectrum.
... This suggests that positive sense of school context can protect against mental health problems. Students with ASD experience more loneliness than typically developed students, and have low social network status (Locke et al., 2010) and few reciprocal friendships (Kasari et al., 2011). Even when ASD traits are below the clinical threshold, peer problems and teacher-student interactions are impaired (Hsiao et al., 2013). ...
Article
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Though autism spectrum disorder (ASD) traits are associated with depression, it is unclear if school social capital mediates their association. We examined whether school social capital mediates the association between ASD traits and depression, and moderation effect of sex on the mediation effect among adolescents in a general population sample (1750 males, 1779 females; equivalent 12–15 years old). The results of this study indicate that ASD traits are associated with depression among adolescents, and that this association is partly mediated by school social capital. Furthermore, the results of the moderated mediation analysis suggest that lower level of school social capital can lead to more increase level of depression for females than for males.
... Internationally, individuals with ASD experience low employment rates (Cimera & Cowan, 2009;Eaves & Ho, 2008;Howlin et al., 2004), a high prevalence of anxiety (Dubin et al., 2015), and restrictions in community participation rates (Myers et al., 2015). Adolescents with ASD experience more loneliness and poorer friendship quality than their neurotypical peers (Bauminger & Kasari, 2000;Chang et al., 2019;Lasgaard et al., 2010;Locke et al., 2010). This loneliness persists into adulthood, being associated with decreased life satisfaction and self-esteem, and increased depression and anxiety (Mazurek, 2014). ...
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Strength-based programs that incorporate technology have gained increasing popularity as an approach to improve outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite this, the core elements of strength-based technology programs remain poorly described. This study aimed to identify the core elements of strength-based technology programs for youth with ASD through a systematic review of the literature. Electronic databases were searched for qualitative studies delivering strength-based technology-driven interventions to youth on the spectrum. Ten of the 874 studies identified met the criteria. Qualitative analysis revealed three core elements of strength-based technology programs for this population: mutual respect, demonstrating skills, and interests. The findings underpin the design of future strength-based technology programs for youth with ASD.
... In accordance with prior literature, (56) we determined that children and adolescents with more severe ASD symptoms were more likely to show deficits in social interactions with peers. Given that social interaction deficit is one core symptom of ASD, it is not surprising that ASD severity is associated with more impairments in social communication skills and, thus, individuals with more severe ASD encounter greater challenges in social reciprocity in friendships. ...
Article
Background: The Canadian 24-hour movement behavior (24-HMB) guidelines suggest that a limited amount of screen time use, an adequate level of physical activity (PA), and sufficient sleep duration are beneficial for ensuring and optimizing the health and quality of life (QoL) of children and adolescents. 2 However, this topic has yet to be examined for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) specifically. The aim of this cross-sectional observational study was to examine the associations between meeting 24-HMB guidelines and several QoL-related indicators among a national sample of American children and adolescents with ASD. Methods: Data were taken from the 2020 National Survey of Children's Health dataset. Participants (n = 956) aged 6 to 17 years and currently diagnosed with ASD were included. The exposure of interest was adherence to the 24-HMB guidelines. Outcomes were QoL indicators, including learning interest/curiosity, repeating grades, adaptive ability, victimization by bullying, and behavioral problems. Age, sex, race, preterm birth status, medication, behavioral treatment, household poverty level, and the educational level of the primary caregiverswere included as covariates. Odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were used to present the strength of association between adherence to 24-HMB guidelines and QoL-related indicators. Results: Overall, 452 participants (45.34%) met one of the 3 recommendations, 216 (22.65%) met two recommendations, whereas only 39 participants (5.04%) met all three recommendations. Compared with meeting none of the recommendations, meeting both sleep duration and PA recommendations (OR = 3.92, 95%CI:1.63-9.48, p < 0.001) or all 3 recommendations (OR = 2.11, 95%CI:1.03-4.35, p = 0.04) was associated with higher odds of showing learning interest/curiosity. Meeting both screen time and PA recommendations (OR = 0.15, 95%CI: 0.04-0.61, p =0.01) or both sleep duration and PA recommendations (OR = 0.24, 95%CI: 0.07-0.87, p = 0.03) was associated with lower odds of repeating any grades. With respect to adaptive ability, participants who met only the PA recommendation of the 24-HMB were less likely to have difficulties dressing or bathing (OR = 0.11, 95%CI: 0.02-0.66, p = 0.02) than those who did not. For participants who met all three recommendations (OR = 0.38, 95%CI: 0.15-0.99, p = 0.05), the odds of being victimized by bullying was lower. Participants who adhered to both sleep duration and PA recommendations were less likely to present with severe behavioral problems (OR = 0.17, 95%CI: 0.04-0.71, p = 0.01) than those who did not meet those guidelines. Conclusion: In summary, significant associations were found between adhering to 24-HMB guidelines and selected QoL indicators. These findings highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a key factor in promoting and preserving the QoL of children with ASD.
... Qualitative research has suggested that many adults (Muller et al., 2008) and children (Bauminger et al., 2003) on the autism spectrum report being lonely. Questionnaire and interview studies have also found that children on the spectrum report having fewer friends and poorer quality friendships than is reported for typically developing children and adolescents (e.g., Locke et al., 2010;Rowley et al., 2012). Despite this, a review by Petrina et al. (2014) concluded that children on the spectrum report being satisfied with their friendships. ...
Article
Background: Thriving is defined as the growth of attributes that mark a flourishing, healthy individual and include Competence, Confidence, Connectedness, Character, Caring, and Contribution to self, family, community, and civil society. Thriving has been linked to positive youth outcomes in neurotypical children and adolescents but has rarely been explored for individuals on the autism spectrum. Method: This study explored the profiles and predictors of parent-reported thriving in 111 school children on the autism spectrum, aged 6 to 14 years. Results: Parents rated children as having relative strengths in the Caring and Connectedness dimensions, and relative challenges in the Competence dimension. Stronger thriving outcomes were consistently predicted by stronger Socialisation scores, however, the other predictors of outcome differed by dimensions. Conclusion: The current findings provide insight into the individual and contextual factors that predict thriving in children on the autism spectrum. As research into thriving is in its infancy, more work is needed to understand how child, family, and contextual factors relate to thriving in individuals on the autism spectrum to foster positive outcomes.
... However, a similar amount of time spent with classmates and colleagues was reported between the groups. This is in line with previous studies reporting smaller social networks in individuals with ASD (Howlin et al., 2004;Kasari et al., 2011;Locke et al., 2010;Orsmond et al., 2004Orsmond et al., , 2013 and the fact that individuals with 22q11DS have been described to be more isolated from peers (Schonherz et al., 2014). These results also highlight the central role of the family environment in the lives of adolescents and young adults with neurodevelopmental disorders (Gulec-Aslan et al., 2013;e.g. ...
Article
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Social impairments are common features of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) allowed access to daily-life information in order to explore the phenomenology of social interactions. 32 individuals with 22q11DS, 26 individuals with ASD and 44 typically developing peers (TD) aged 12–30 were assessed during 6 days 8 times a day using a mobile app. Participants with 22q11DS and ASD did not spend more time alone but showed distinct implication in the social sphere than TD. Distinct profiles emerged between the two conditions regarding the subjective experience of aloneness and the subjective experience of social interactions. This study highlights distinct social functioning profiles in daily-life in 22q11DS and ASD that points towards different therapeutic targets.
... Difficulties persist throughout the school years and extend into adolescence as children with ASD attempt to navigate the complex social world and subtle social cues of the hidden curriculum (Jordan, 2019;Myles & Simpson, 2001). These include differences forming and maintaining friendships (Bauminger & Shulman, 2003;Locke et al., 2010;Shea & Mesibov, 2005) and, in turn, associated loneliness (Bauminger & Kasari, 2000;Deckers et al., 2017;Lasgaard et al., 2010), bullying and victimization (Cappadocia et al., 2012;Symes & Humphrey, 2012;Van Roekel et al., 2010). Although schools may be regarded as the prime context for relationships to flourish (Blatchford et al., 2015;Blatchford et al., 2010;Juvonen, 2018), without sufficient support, such settings may in fact further isolate children with ASD. ...
Article
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Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience social communication difficulties which can be compounded by increased social demands and expectations of the school environment. Play offers a unique context for social communication development in educational settings. This systematic review aimed to synthesize play-based interventions for the social communication skills of children with ASD in educational contexts and identified nine studies. Overall, studies in this review provided a promising evidence base for supporting social communication skills through play in education for children with ASD. The review also highlighted gaps in research on play-based interventions for the social communication skills of children with ASD within naturalistic educational settings.
... Chung, Vanderbilt, and Soares 2015;Finke, Hickerson, and Kremkow 2018), or to improve both the quantity and quality of ASD individuals' relationships (Sundberg 2018), which are generally poor (e.g. Bauminger and Kasari 2000; Kasari et al. 2012): this often entails negative experiences, such as feelings of loneliness and social isolation (Locke et al. 2010;Orsmond et al. 2013). ...
Article
Game-based interventions have been gradually and successfully implemented in the mental health domain given the games’ ability to positively affect a variety of mental health conditions. To this aim, scholars have recently discovered the usefulness of Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) video games, due to their increasing popularity, availability, and cost effectiveness. Nevertheless, key aspects of this line of research have not emerged yet, since a comprehensive overview of how commercial video games impact on different mental disorders is still missing. In this article, we present a systematic literature review of recent research that focuses on the usage of commercial video games in mental health. We analyse 39 papers and map the relevant themes that are recurrent in the last ten years of research, offering a detailed understanding of the methodological approaches that were used, the results obtained, the main disorders addressed, and the video game genres exploited. On the basis of these findings, we highlight open issues in current work and point out a variety of research opportunities that could be tackled in future years, like the need of conducting more field and longitudinal studies, the necessity of developing the design knowledge, and the possibility of connecting research with clinical practice.
... Attention to variability in social drive has emerged from studying social adjustment of children with ASD, who often report loneliness and desire for friendships ( Locke et al., 2010 ;Kasari et al., 2011 ). Adolescents with ASD indicated reduced social pleasure versus typically developing controls ( Chevallier et al., 2012 ), and most adults with ASD scored above clinical cutoffs as anhedonic ( Carré et al., 2015 ), with significant relationships between hedonic impairment and severity of ASD. ...
Article
In 2017, facing lack of progress and failures encountered in targeted drug development for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental disorders, the ISCTM with the ECNP created the ASD Working Group charged to identify barriers to progress and recommending research strategies for the field to gain traction. Working Group international academic, regulatory and industry representatives held multiple in-person meetings, teleconferences, and subgroup communications to gather a wide range of perspectives on lessons learned from extant studies, current challenges, and paths for fundamental advances in ASD therapeutics. This overview delineates the barriers identified, and outlines major goals for next generation biomedical intervention development in ASD. Current challenges for ASD research are many: heterogeneity, lack of validated biomarkers, need for improved endpoints, prioritizing molecular targets, comorbidities, and more. The Working Group emphasized cautious but unwavering optimism for therapeutic progress for ASD core features given advances in the basic neuroscience of ASD and related disorders. Leveraging genetic data, intermediate phenotypes, digital phenotyping, big database discovery, refined endpoints, and earlier intervention, the prospects for breakthrough treatments are substantial. Recommendations include new priorities for expanded research funding to overcome challenges in translational clinical ASD therapeutic research.
... Notably, there is a paucity of research regarding loneliness in TD siblings of ASD individuals. Although loneliness has been extensively investigated in ASD children and adolescents themselves (Bauminger & Kasari, 2000;Bauminger et al., 2003;Chamberlain et al., 2007;Deckers et al., 2017;Lasgaard et al., 2010;Locke et al., 2010;Storch et al., 2012;White & Roberson-Nay, 2009;Whitehouse et al., 2009;Zeedyk et al., 2016) research on feelings of loneliness of TD ASD siblings is extremely limited, with only two relevant studies existing in the ASD literature. The first one, was carried out by Bagenholm and Gillberg (1991) in Sweden, who conducted a mixed (quantitative/qualitative) research among 60 siblings aged from 5 to 20 years and their parents. ...
Article
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Loneliness has been associated with several adverse psychosocial outcomes in childhood and adolescence. The present study aimed to investigate feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction in school-aged typically-developing (TD) siblings of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For this purpose, 118 siblings of children with ASD and 115 siblings of TD children and one of their parents participated in this study. Siblings of ASD-children reported higher levels of loneliness and social dissatisfaction than the controls. The hierarchical multiple regressions performed revealed that those feelings were inversely associated with being the first-born and with specific aspects of social support as perceived by the parent. The younger siblings of ASD-children seem to be in need of certain interventions beyond social support.
... Sociometric assessment is widely used to understand the positions of individuals in social networks and to quantitatively assess the number of connections within the network. For example, Locke, Ishijima, Kasari, and London (2010) showed with a sociometric test that children with ASD had significantly lower social network salience and fewer received friendship nominations compared to typically developing children across one academic school year. However, the evidence on the relative importance of quantity and quality aspects of social relations is somewhat conflicting in the literature on neurotypically developing youth (Flannery & Smith, 2017;Gifford-Smith, Brownell, & Abecassis, 2003). ...
Article
Social connectedness (SC), as a sense of belonging and a psychological bond a person may feel towards other people or groups, is imperative for the positive mental and physical development of children and early adolescents. Particularly children and early adolescents with a mental disorder often face difficulties feeling socially connected and experience the detrimental effects of loneliness. The present systematic review aims to investigate how far SC differs in children and early adolescents with a mental disorder compared to in those that develop neurotypically. Furthermore, it aims to examine the determinants of SC and predominant SC measurement techniques applied in youth with a mental disorder. Following a systematic PRISMA approach, 33 studies were included. In the majority of studies, SC was reduced in the affected population, with varying manifestations over different diagnoses. Determinants could be divided into skills, behavioral and social aspects, and symptoms. Various measurement techniques were applied, exploring friendship quality, loneliness, and peer relations along several dimensions. Interventions and possibilities of influencing SC in certain disorders seems possible and necessary to bring SC more into the focus of daily clinical routine and prevent adverse outcomes in this vulnerable population.
... For example, Church et al. (2000) found that autistic adolescents in middle school with average to above average cognitive abilities expressed some interest in interacting with their peers. It is not unusual for these adolescents to report concerns over making friends or not having any friends (Locke et al., 2010). Taken together, the evidence suggests that adolescents with ASD report poorer quality friendships, greater loneliness, and greater social anxiety than their neurotypical peers (Bauminger & Kasari, 2000). ...
Article
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The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) social skills intervention has demonstrated effectiveness for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, studies have been limited by a lack of objective outcome measures and an underrepresentation of Latinx families. This pilot study extends the PEERS literature by utilizing an observational measure of conversational skills (Contextual Assessment of Social Skills; CASS) with a diverse sample of 13 adolescents with ASD (with parent groups conducted in English and Spanish simultaneously) and a control group of 11 neurotypical adolescents. Consistent with previous research, adolescents with ASD and their parents perceived improvements in social functioning following intervention, which were maintained four months later and corroborated by improvements in conversational skills.
... Traditionally, individuals with ASD 1 have reported lower QOL across the life span compared to neurotypical individuals (e.g., Ayres et al., 2018;Kamp-Becker et al., 2011;Tavernor et al., 2013;van Heijst & Geurts, 2015) as evidenced by lower physical and emotional well-being (Croen et al., 2015;Schieve et al., 2012), limited friendships and social isolation (Bauminger & Schulman, 2003;Kuhlthau et al., 2010;Laugeson & Ellingsen, 2014;Locke et al., 2010), and difficulties in obtaining and maintaining employment (Baldwin et al., 2014;Chiang et al., 2013;Walsh et al., 2017). Furthermore, researchers have found that parents of children with ASD rated their children's QOL significantly lower than the QOL of a normative sample of children without ASD in the domains of interpersonal relationships, physical, and emotional well-being (Arias et al., 2018;Biggs & Carter, 2016). ...
Article
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Our purpose in this study was to further examine the psychometric properties of the Quality of Life for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (QOLASD-C) scale. We first investigated the factor structure and the internal consistency of the scale. The bifactor model showed good fit and strong reliability. Second, we used multiple-indicators multiple-causes (MIMIC) modeling to examine the associations between demographic variables and the QOLASD-C dimensions. Results showed differences on overall QOL based on age, race/ethnicity, and autism spectrum disorder severity, but no relationships with gender. All demographic variables were associated with one or all three subscales (i.e., interpersonal relationships, self-determination, emotional well-being) of the QOLASD-C. Third, an optimal cut-off score of 37 was identified. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
... In adolescence, conversation is the primary medium for social interaction, forming peer relationships, and establishing friendships. Research has shown that adolescents with ASD have few peer relationships and are often socially isolated, even in inclusive settings (e.g., Locke et al., 2010;Orsmond et al., 2004). Without effective intervention, conversation difficulties are likely to be a source of social anxiety for many on the spectrum (Landa, 2000), and may lead to social isolation and feelings of loneliness (Cresswell et al., 2019). ...
Article
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Individuals on the autism spectrum often experience pragmatic social conversation difficulties that include showing interest in their conversational partners. This may become particularly evident during adolescence when conversation with peers is the primary medium for social interaction. This study used a multiple baseline design across participants to investigate the effects of a brief intervention package on the partner-focused conversation of three adolescents with autism. Results showed increased partner-focused questions and comments for all participants. Social validity assessments indicated that the intervention led to meaningful improvements in peer conversations.
... In ASD, school adjustment is mainly characterized by impairment in socialization and learning. Impairments in socialization are linked to isolation, lack of social reciprocity, social interaction impairments and poor friendship [29][30][31][32]. Moreover, autistic children show deficits in the social skills of cooperation, assertion and self-control as well as more hyperactivity and internalizing symptoms compared to the typically developing children [33]. ...
Article
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Background Previous studies about Quality of Life (QoL) in autistic children (ASD) have put forward the negative impact of factors such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) severity, psychiatric comorbidities and adaptive behaviour impairment. However, little is known about the relation of these factors to school adjustment, measured with the International Classification of Functions disability and health (ICF) framework (World Health Organization, 2001), and QoL evolutions. Thus, this study aimed at investigating the determinants of behaviours, school adjustment and QoL changes in 32 children in an ASD inclusion program over one academic year. Methods Using Bayesian methods, we studied the impact of ASD severity, psychiatric comorbidities, adaptive behaviour level and a diagnosis of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) on evolutions of behaviour, school adjustment (measured with the ICF) and QoL. Results As predicted, adequate adaptive behaviour levels were associated with better progress of behaviours and school adjustment whereas psychiatric comorbidities were related to worse outcome of school adjustment. Contrary to our hypotheses, severe ASD was associated to better evolution of adjustment at school. PDA was not discriminant. We did not find any association between the studied factors and the evolution of QoL over the academic year. Conclusion Our results show that the assessment of adaptive behaviour levels, psychiatric comorbidities and ASD severity level may be useful predictors to discriminate of school adjustment evolution (assessed by teachers within the ICF model) over a one-year period in autistic children. The assessment of this time course of school adjustment was sensitive to change and adapted to differentiate evolutions in an inclusive education framework. The investigation of quality of school life of autistic children as well as its determinants may therefore be relevant to improving academic adaptation. However, further research in larger groups, over longer periods and in different personalized school settings for autistic children is needed.
... Overall, the autistic participants indicated a preference for less emotional and physical closeness in their friendships compared to the nonautistic participants. Based on these results, these researchers suggested these discrepant patterns of preferences may explain the higher proportion of autistic people who report desiring and/or actually having more friends who also have autism diagnosis (Bauminger & Kasari, 2000;Bauminger & Schulman, 2003;Bauminger et al., 2008a;Cook et al., 2017;Crompton et al., 2020;Locke et al., 2010). ...
Article
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Autistic people have different preferences for friendship than non-autistic people. The aims of the current project were to determine how autistic people prefer to behave in their friendships and how this compares to the friendship practices reported by non-autistic participants. Autistic (n = 102) and non-autistic (n = 107) young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 years completed an online survey comprised of selected questions from the Friendship Questionnaire. Binary logistic regression and multivariate general linear modeling were used to analyze and compare the responses across the groups. Results identified differences in the preferred friendship practices between the participant groups, which may further confirm the Double Empathy Theory and provide a context for understanding the friendship normative practices of autistic people.
... Disability homophily likely results from both the social salience of disability status within school and classroom networks and the mutual knowledge resulting from the shared experience of disability. This is supported by empirical evidence that youth with learning disabilities, attention disorders, and autism spectrum disorders are more likely to have relationships with peers with disabilities than typically developing peers (Estell et al., 2009;Kreider et al., 2016;Locke et al., 2010), and that youth with intellectual disabilities and severe disabilities perceive their relationships with peers with disabilities as more equitable (Mason et al., 2013;Rossetti & Keenan, 2018). The shared feelings, experiences, or understanding within homophilous relationships may also lead to greater belongingness (Mahar et al., 2013). ...
Article
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This study used a convergent mixed methods design to examine environmental and curricular influences on peer relationships and support for young women with disabilities within a clustered, randomized controlled trial of a gender-specific, disability-focused intervention, Paths 2 the Future (P2F). Pre-and post-intervention surveys of perceptions of peer support were collected from 366 young women with disabilities in 26 high schools in the Northwest region of the U.S. Focus groups were conducted with 112 participants from the intervention group to examine participant perceptions regarding how P2F influenced their relationships. Survey data were analyzed using an intent to treat analysis approach using hierarchical linear modeling. Focus group data were analyzed using deductive and inductive strategies. The effect of the P2F on peer support was non-significant in our quantitative model, whereas qualitative themes suggested participants developed new relationships, closeness, and skills that support peer relationships as a result of the transformation of space, transformation of peer relationships, and transformation of self. The integration of qualitative and quantitative data indicated discordance, which was reconciled through additional quantitative analyses that suggested focus group participants, but not the overall intervention group, experienced significant increases in peer support from pre-to post-intervention.
Article
Lay abstract: Caregivers of people with autism spectrum disorder commonly experience stigma. As a result, they may avoid contact with others, in turn, influencing their child's social participation. This study aimed to explore the impact of stigma perceived by the caregivers on the everyday social experience of Taiwanese adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. We asked 76 adolescents with autism spectrum disorder who did not have intellectual disability (69 males, aged 10-16 years) to carry a mobile device for 7 days. The device prompted them 7 times each day to record who they were interacting with, what they perceived, and how they felt about their social interactions. In addition, we asked their caregivers to complete the Affiliate Stigma Scale to measure their experience of stigma. We found that participants whose caregivers perceived high levels of stigma were more likely to spend time with family members and less likely to be interested in interacting with people at school. Those participants also were more likely to experience anxiety while interacting with family. Our study suggests that it is important for clinicians to implement support services for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and help caregivers in managing stigma to promote their child's social participation.
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Background: Social impairments are common features of several neurodevelopmental conditions, including 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, little is known about social interactions in daily-life. The Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) was used to have access to daily-life information and to distinguish the phenomenology of social interactions between the two conditions, often considered as presenting a similar profile of social impairments. Methods: 32 individuals with 22q11DS, 26 individuals with ASD and 44 healthy controls (HC) aged 12-30 were recruited. All participants were assessed during 6 days 8 times a day using a mobile app. The EMA protocol assessed positive and negative affect, social context (alone versus in company) and the subjective experience of aloneness and social interactions. Results: Participants with 22q11DS and ASD did not spend more time alone, but spent less time with familiar individuals such as friends, and more time with people they live with, compared to HC. However, distinct profiles emerged between the two conditions regarding the subjective experience of aloneness, with more intense feelings of exclusion in participants with ASD compared to participants with 22q11DS and HC. The subjective appreciation of interactions revealed that individuals with ASD felt more judged and more nervous than both 22q11DS and HC. Nevertheless, both conditions expressed a higher desire to be alone when in company of other people than HC. Conclusions: This study highlights distinct social functioning profiles in daily-life in 22q11DS and ASD, giving new intel regarding the social phenotype in these conditions, and pointing towards different therapeutic targets.
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Objectives This systematic review aimed to quantify differences in loneliness levels between autistic and neurotypical samples and investigate the association between loneliness and mental health in autistic individuals. Methods Three meta-analyses were conducted. Studies were methodologically appraised using established tools. Results Overall, 39 studies were included. The majority of these achieved moderate methodological quality ratings. The primary meta-analysis ( N = 23) found autistic samples reported higher loneliness compared with neurotypical samples (Hedges’ g = .89). The meta-analyses on the associations between loneliness and anxiety ( N = 14) and depression ( N = 11) in autistic samples found significant pooled correlations ( r = .29 and r = .48, respectively). Conclusions This review highlights numerous limitations within current autism and loneliness research. Nevertheless, loneliness in autism merits targeted clinical and research attention.
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Friendships are vital to mental health and well-being. Understanding autistic individuals’ lived experiences of friendship is necessary to support friendship development. A scoping review exploring autistic individuals’ experiences of friendship was undertaken to understand their perspectives of friendship. Electronic database and manual reference searches identified twenty-two studies exploring autistic perspectives of friendship. Results were synthesised using a meta-ethnographic approach across the lifespan. Findings highlight the common and unique experiences of friendship among autistic individuals. While autistic individuals defined friendship based on homophily and propinquity, similar to non-autistic individuals, unique challenges including friendship insecurity, monotropism and efforts to conform to neurotypical social norms, leading to anxiety, were experienced by autistic individuals.
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Lay abstract: Internationally, more autistic pupils are being educated in mainstream schools. Some people have voiced concerns that this policy roll-out is happening before examining the effective outcomes for autistic students. Concerns have also been expressed regarding a lack of the voices of autistic pupils themselves within research and policy. This study was undertaken in order to gather literature that explores the views and experiences of autistic young people in relation to their mainstream school placement at the secondary level. This study aims to summarise the existing literature and provide a new, more complete account of the school experiences of this cohort. After an extensive search, 33 studies were identified by the authors as meeting a set of inclusion criteria. All of the studies included in this review elicited the views and perspectives of at least one autistic young person regarding their mainstream secondary school placement. Upon carefully analysing these studies, the authors developed three key themes as follows: 'Demands of mainstream placements', 'Social participation' and 'Impacts on the student'. Our analysis revealed that for many autistic young people, mainstream school is a complex and demanding social environment. Further research that prioritises the voices and perspectives of this cohort is essential as inclusive policy and practice continues to develop.
Article
Lay abstract: Most social skills interventions for students with autism spectrum disorder have been conducted in clinic-based settings. While students with autism spectrum disorder are able to acquire new skills, the generalization of these skills to authentic social environments, like school, is more difficult. To address this issue, there is an increase in research examining the implementation of social skills interventions for students with autism spectrum disorder who are educated in inclusive school settings. This review included 18 research studies that focused on school-based social interventions for students with autism spectrum disorder who were educated in inclusive school settings. Typically developing peers also participated in the interventions to varying degrees. Secondary aims explored naturalistic observation instruments and subsequent social outcomes used to record the social behaviors of students with autism spectrum disorder at school. Social intervention components varied across studies, but all studies reported improvement in the targeted social behaviors of students with autism spectrum disorder. There were many similarities in the ways in which researchers measured and defined social outcomes. Observation protocols were able to measure change in the social behaviors of students with autism spectrum disorder across a wide age range. The recognition of evidence-based practices used in school-based social skills interventions, as well as the identification of observation protocols and salient social outcomes, provides a starting point for school practitioners to consider as they move to implement social skills interventions for students with autism spectrum disorder into inclusive school settings.
Article
This study explored the impact of inclusive education on academic motivation, academic self-efficacy, and well-being of students with learning disability (LD). Three groups of students (students with LD studying in special schools, students with LD studying in inclusive schools, and students without LD studying in inclusive schools) were compared on these variables. Results revealed that students without LD scored higher on both academic motivation and academic self-efficacy. They also scored higher on well-being than students with LD going to inclusive schools. Implications of the results in the context of students with LD are discussed.
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In this study, we examine friendship centrality and reciprocity between kindergarteners who exhibit externalizing classroom behaviors and their classroom peers. Teachers nominated children who display externalizing classroom behaviors and we collected network data via individual interviews of 411 children (mean age=6.7 years; SD=.33) from 21 kindergarten classrooms in four schools. We found that children nominated for elevated levels of externalizing behavior were significantly less central to the classroom friendship network (over and above the contribution of language skills), and this effect was magnified for boys and students in larger classrooms. Moderator analyses revealed a significant gender by behavior interaction, where the difference between boys and girls was conditional on externalizing behavior nomination. Similar main effect results were found when predicting whether or not students had a reciprocal friendship tie. Students who received a teacher nomination for externalizing behavior had 48% lower odds of having a reciprocal friendship tie, after controlling for language skills. We found no significant moderators of the behavior - reciprocity relation. We conclude our study with a discussion of our findings and recommendations for future research and practice.
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Autistic children are thought to develop social attention skills differently from non-autistic children. Previous work has shown that technology, and specifically tangible toys, could have the potential to support social attention in autistic children. A key challenge is knowing how to design and use interactive and intelligent technologies to support interaction in autistic children, given the heterogeneity in levels of social motivation, social development, and interest in digital technologies. To address this challenge, we examined in detail the interaction between digital features and autistic children’s joint engagement in a real-world setting, exploring the impact of tangible constraints in fostering social interaction. The current study observed autistic children (aged between 12 and 15 years) playing with a digital robotic toy and a non-digital counterpart, and measured social attention and engagement during free play. The results showed that increased and higher levels of joint attention when children had to share a toy between them, on both digital and non-digital interfaces. We found that autistic children individually vary in their propensity to engage in social interactions, as well as their responses to digital features. This work contributes to a growing area of evidence that tangible and smart technologies can create social opportunities for autistic children.
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Lay abstract: Recently, researchers have been interested in how autistic people experience loneliness. Yet, most of this research has focused on loneliness in autistic children and young people. We present the results of a systematic review on loneliness in autistic adults. A systematic review is a rigorous way of searching for all existing research on a topic and summarizing the findings about specific questions. We searched for all research published on this topic until 9 April 2021. We found 34 articles that investigated loneliness in autistic adults. This research showed that (1) there is fairly little research that has involved directly asking autistic adults about their first-hand experiences of loneliness (e.g. what loneliness feels like for them); (2) few research studies have used loneliness questionnaires specifically developed for autistic adults (this was attempted in just one research study); (3) collective loneliness (i.e. loneliness associated with how much an autistic person feels they 'fit in' to society) seems important to autistic adults but has not been investigated as commonly as other aspects of loneliness (e.g. loneliness associated with romantic relationships or friendships); (4) things that might increase loneliness in autistic adults include anxiety and depression, and a lack of autism understanding and acceptance, for example; and (5) things that might reduce loneliness in autistic adults include having relationships and self-acceptance, for example. In our article, we discuss the kinds of future research on loneliness in autistic adults that might be useful.
Article
Autistic individuals are reported to struggle with aspects of social interaction. Past research has shown that social media use can help to facilitate social functioning, however, the perceptions of risks and benefits when engaging on social media platforms remains unclear. The current study aimed to explore perceptions of social media participation in terms of online risk and online relationships in both autistic young people and parents. Eight autistic young people and six parents of autistic young people took part in semi-structured interviews, with the resultant data being transcribed and analysed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) inductive thematic analysis. Two themes were identified in relation to the impact social media has on autistic young people’s relationships (Socialisation; Communication) and two themes were identified in relation to the perceived barriers and risks to engaging online (Abusive interactions; Talking to strangers). These findings show that social interaction is of particular value to young autistic people, in terms of affording them easier social interactions than there would be in ‘real life’. The findings also show that the autistic young people were aware of risks online, and considered ways in which they try to manage this risk. Future research is needed to understand if similar interactions and risk take place across all platforms and whether online communication is successful between matched or mixed autistic and non-autistic groups.
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This article describes the principles and operation of a social group for university students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The assumptions underlying the group are consistent with aspects of the social model of disability and neurodiversity paradigm as well as the principles of mutual aid support groups. The group prioritizes social experience rather than social skills by explicitly accepting unconventional behavior and multiple ways of engaging in it. Operationalizing these principles occurs during the recruitment stage and by employing an active and responsive facilitation style during meetings. The reported benefits of the group suggest that this approach to providing support for students with ASD may contribute to the efforts of postsecondary institutions to meet the unique needs of this population.
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The results of several studies indicate that children with mental retardation and autism spectrum in facing with different social situations experience severe problems. However, the subtle differences between these children and normal peers in the response to different social conditions have been less studied. So the purpose of the present study was to compare the problematic social situations in students with autism and mental retardation with normal students. This research is a causal-comparative study. 149 students with autism and mental retardation were selected by multi-stage cluster sampling method from Rasht city. Also, 100 students with average intelligence were selected as the comparison group. To collect data, the Scale of Taxonomy of Problematic Social Situations for Children (Dodge, 1990) was used. The results of the analysis showed that there is significant differences between the groups of students in problematic social situations (p<0.001); this means that students with autism and mental retardation have more problems than normal students in components such as peer group entry, response to provocation, response to failure, response to success, social expectations, and teacher expectations. Based on the results of this study, students with autism, mental retardation, and normal students, have different responses in different social situations that can be addressed in a comprehensive and regular planning for these children. Keywords: problematic social situations, students, mental retardation, autism.
Article
Scholars and activists debate whether people on the autism spectrum should access autism-specific services or general/inclusive/mainstream services. This article presents quantitative results from a mixed-methods survey of autistic adults and parents/guardians of autistic people in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Respondents reported categories of services used (autism-specific, mixed-disability, or general/inclusive/mainstream), satisfaction, and overall service preference. Most respondents preferred autism-specific services, followed by different categories of services for different service types. Demographic factors had little influence on overall service preferences. No significant differences were found between adults' and parents/guardians' overall service preferences. For parents/guardians, using autism-specific services was associated with a preference for autism-specific services. There were significant associations between the services respondents reported having previously used and their overall service preference. Parents/guardians in Italy and France reported lower satisfaction with many services. These results suggest that a preference for autism-specific services pervades different groups. While most respondents did endorse autism-specific services, the strong secondary preference for different service categories encourages providers and policy makers to attend to diverse needs. While satisfaction was generally middling to high, there remain areas for improvement, especially in general job training services. General services can use a Universal Design approach and collaborate with autism-specific and mixed-disability services to increase accessibility to diverse populations. The influence of previous service use on preferences suggests that providers can leverage strengths of existing services, leverage and create connections, and ask users about previous experiences to better address their expectations. Lay Summary This study asked autistic adults and parents/guardians of autistic people what they think about autism services. Most parents/guardians and adults liked services that focus on autism, but many parents/guardians and adults liked them for some things and not others. All services can ask people about services they used in the past and learn from the strengths of good services through Universal Design and working with other services.
Article
Children and young people with disability are a “vulnerable” population within a pandemic context as they face structural inequities and discrimination as a result of their impairments. In this paper, we report research that sought to examine the learning experiences of children and young people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to understand how this group fared and whether different interventions impacted on these experiences. Data were collected from an online survey organized by Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) that garnered responses from more than 700 families. The study contributes empirical evidence to the growing literature about COVID-19-related impacts on learners already recognized as experiencing multiple disadvantages in schooling. We find some significant gaps in supports offered to students with disability and their families. Notwithstanding that some students did not receive any support from their schools, where supports were offered, social supports had the greatest positive impact on feelings of learner engagement. Our findings support key propositions in the social and emotional learning literature, namely that particular resourcing should be dedicated to social interaction and feelings of belonging as these are crucial to learners engaging in learning processes. There are clear implications of these findings in terms of what educational institutions might do to help engage students with disability in remote learning.
Article
A social skills training has previously resulted in positive improvements in social skills among children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This pilot study developed a play-based social skills training protocol for first-grade elementary children with ASD in Taiwan and determined its efficacy. Using a single-group pretest-posttest design, this study recruited seven first-grade elementary children with ASD aged 6–7 years. Seven children enrolled in a regular classroom participated in a 12-week play-based social skills training program which was led by an occupational therapist. The improvement of social skills was evaluated by occupational therapists through video coding and goal attainment scales. Caregivers and teachers were asked to complete the communication and socialization domains of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-Third Edition. The results showed significant improvements in the children’s social skills performance between the pretest and posttest based on video coding and goal attainment scale. Significant improvements in the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-Third Edition growth scale values of receptive and written language subdomains were observed. This study established an intervention protocol for first-grade children with ASD that could be used as a guide by clinical professionals who work with children with ASD who experience problems adapting to elementary school.
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OBJECTIVE: A high percentage of young people show a Problematic Internet Use (PIU). In literature, level and trend of PIU, the network usage and the impact of time spent online are not univocal. Our study aims to assess the level and trend of PIU, investigate the relationship between PIU and some socio-demographic and Internet use related factors and psychological variables among female adolescents and young adults. DESIGN: The sample involved 135 female students (mean age 17.69 ±2.95), divided in three subgroups according to age (men age 14.87 ±0.5; 17.72 ±0.52; 20.67 ±2.29). Besides socio-demographic and Internet use related factors, data were collected to investigate the level of PIU, loneliness and subclinical autistic traits. RESULTS: A high proportion of participants have PIU (42.2%; N=57), with a significant reduction in risk with increasing age. Severe Internet addiction was recorded in 0.7% (N=1). Age, loneliness and time spent online are predictors for PIU (R 2 =0.65). Subclinical autistic traits result to be correlated with loneliness. Among the participants, 65.92% use Internet for social networking, and 71.9% at risk of PIU use social networks. CONCLUSION: Females show high level of PIU, and spend much time connected to the Internet, mainly on social networks. Additionally, some personality traits are associated with PIU. Taken together, these findings suggest the importance of guiding young people to a conscious and planned use of the Internet, and organizing interventions aimed at improving cognitive flexibility and socialization.
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Students with autism are increasingly being placed in general education "inclusion" settings for the purpose of improved social integration. This article presents information on the social integration of ten students with autism in elementary inclusive settings. The purposes were to describe three social integration constructs of students with autism in inclusive classrooms, including their acceptance (social preference), visibility (social impact), and membership in a peer group (social network affiliation) and to identify the extent to which severity of autism characteristics contributed to these social integration constructs. Results suggest students with autism in inclusive settings are as accepted, visible, and members of peer groups, as well as both their peers without disabilities and those with other disabilities. Post hoc observations revealed further factors that may impact these constructs as well. (Contains 3 tables.)
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To consider friendships and their significance through the life course requires, first, differentiation of deep structure (i.e., reciprocity) from surface structure (i.e., the social exchange) and, second, assessment within a multifaceted framework that simultaneously emphasizes having friends, the identity of one's friends, and relationship quality. Having friends is correlated with a sense of well being across the life span, but developmental outcome also depends on the identity of one's friends as well as the quality of one's relationships with them. Greater attention needs to be given to the manner in which friendships differ from one another, continuities and changes across major developmental transitions, and differentiation of developmental pathways through which friendship experience contributes to individual outcome. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The distinction between friendship adjustment and acceptance by the peer group was examined. Third- through 5th-grade children ( N = 881) completed sociometric measures of acceptance and friendship, a measure of loneliness, a questionnaire on the features of their very best friendships, and a measure of their friendship satisfaction. Results indicated that many low-accepted children had best friends and were satisfied with these friendships. However, these children's friendships were lower than those of other children on most dimensions of quality. Having a friend, friendship quality, and group acceptance made separate contributions to the prediction of loneliness. Results indicate the utility of the new friendship quality measure and the value of distinguishing children's friendship adjustment from their general peer acceptance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Studied social networks and aggressive behavior in school in 2 cohorts of boys and girls in the 4th and 7th grades ( N = 695). Measures of social networks yielded convergent findings. Highly aggressive subjects (both boys and girls) did not differ from matched control subjects in terms of social cluster membership or in being isolated or rejected within the social network. Peer cluster analysis and reciprocal "best friend" selections indicated that aggressive subjects tended to affiliate with aggressive peers. Even though highly aggressive children and adolescents were less popular than control subjects in the social network at large, they were equally often identified as being nuclear members of social clusters. Aggressive subjects did not differ from matched control subjects in the number of times they were named by peers as "best friend," nor did the two groups differ in the probability of having friendship choices reciprocated by peers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Assumptions of difficulties with social interaction, or lack of interest in social interaction, are central to many definitions and conventional understandings of autism. However, many individuals with autism describe a strong craving social interaction. This article uses autobiographical accounts written by individuals who identified as autistic as a source of qualitative research data and specifically explores the ways these texts address issues of social relationships. Using narrative inquiry, the authors explored how individuals with autism described their own notions of and experiences with social interaction. This article discusses the broad themes of (a) the desire to have connections and (b) navigation through the world of people. Last, implications for the education of individuals with autism are considered.
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This study assessed play and social behavior of young children with autism in inclusive school settings to identify important targets for intervention. Data were collected for five children with autism and for typically developing peers. All children with autism received intervention in one-on-one settings but did not have individual education plan goals that provided systematic intervention for developing play and social skills in their school settings. Results indicated the children with autism and their typically developing peers played with a comparable number of stimulus items (e.g., toys), but the children with autism engaged in these activities for shorter durations. Both children with autism and their typically developing peers engaged in similar levels of social interaction with adults. However, the children with autism rarely or never engaged in social interactions with their peers, whereas the typically developing peers frequently engaged in social interactions with other children. The results suggest important targets for intervention.
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The purpose of this paper is to review the knowledge available from aggregated research (primarily through 2000) on the characteristics of social interactions and social relationships among young children with autism, with special attention to strategies and tactics that promote competence or improved performance in this area. In its commissioning letter for the initial version of this paper, the Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism of the National Research Council requested "a critical, scholarly review of the empirical research on interventions to facilitate the social interactions of children with autism, considering adult-child interactions (where information is available) as well as child-child interactions, and including treatment of [one specific question]: What is the empirical evidence that social irregularities of children with autism are amenable to remediation?" To do this, the paper (a) reviews the extent and quality of empirical literature on social interaction for young children with autism; (b) reviews existing descriptive and experimental research that may inform us of relations between autism and characteristics that support social development, and efforts to promote improved social outcomes (including claims for effectiveness for several specific types of intervention); (c) highlights some possible directions for future research; and (d) summarizes recommendations for educational practices that can be drawn from this research.
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A mediational model positing that the effects of popularity on children's loneliness and depression are passed through indexes of friendship experiences was tested using structural equation modeling. Children (193 3rd through 6th graders) completed a battery of sociometric and self-report questionnaires from which measures of popularity, multiple friendship dimensions (i.e., quantity and quality of best and good friendships), and loneliness and depression were derived. Confirmation of a slightly modified model supported the mediational hypothesis. Although popularity exerted no direct impact on the adjustment indexes, it strongly influenced friendship, which, in turn, affected depression through its strong association with loneliness. It appears that popularity is important for setting the stage for relationship development, but that it is dyadic friendship experiences that most directly influence feelings of loneliness and depression.
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In this study, we investigate peer relationships and participation in social and recreational activities among 235 adolescents and adults with autism who live at home. The prevalence of having friendships, peer relationships, and participating in social and recreational activities were all low and comparable to previous research. Both individual and environmental factors were investigated as predictors of having peer relationships and participation in social and recreational activities. Having peer relationships was predicted by individual characteristics (younger age, and less impairment in social interaction skills), but not by characteristics of the environment. Greater participation in social and recreational activities was predicted by characteristics of the individual with autism (greater functional independence, less impairment in social interaction skills, higher levels of internalizing behaviors) and characteristics of the environment (greater maternal participation in social and recreational activities, greater number of services received, and inclusion in integrated settings while in school).
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This study examined friendship quality as a possible moderator of risk factors in predicting peer victimization and bullying. Children (50 boys and 49 girls, ages 10 to 13 years) reported on the quality of their best friendship, as well as their bullying and victimization tendencies. Parents reported on their child's internalizing and externalizing behaviors, in addition to bullying and victimization tendencies. Results indicated that externalizing problems were related to bullying behavior; however, friendship quality moderated this relation such that among children with externalizing behaviors, a high-quality friendship significantly attenuated bullying behavior. Internalizing problems and low friendship quality were significantly related to victimization; however, friendship quality did not moderate the relation between internalizing problems and victimization. Implications for interventions based on these findings are discussed.
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Including children with autism in regular classrooms has become prevalent; yet some evidence suggests such placements could increase the risk of isolation and rejection. In this study, we used social network methods to explore the involvement of children with autism in typical classrooms. Participants were 398 children (196 boys) in regular 2nd through 5th grade classes, including 17 children (14 boys) with high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome. Children reported on friendship qualities, peer acceptance, loneliness, and classroom social networks. Despite involvement in networks, children with autism experienced lower centrality, acceptance, companionship, and reciprocity; yet they did not report greater loneliness. Future research is needed to help children with autism move from the periphery to more effective engagement with peers.
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This case study explored perceptions of friendship of an adolescent with Asperger syndrome. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, photographs taken by the adolescent, and quality of life and friendship measures. Data were analyzed using grounded theory principles and organized into three themes: (1) characteristics of a friend, (2) family involvement, and (3) enjoyment of friendships and desire to have them. The adolescent appeared to enjoy having friends, was interested in pursuing friendships, and had a basic understanding of many characteristics of friendships. He described negotiating his own and his friend's focused interests. Family members played important roles in the establishment and maintenance of the adolescent's friendships.
Article
This study explored the social affiliations of students in three mainstream classrooms containing students receiving general education services, students characterized as academically gifted, students with learning disabilities, and students with emotional and behavioral disorders. The study provided an in-depth description of the classrooms' social networks, focusing on the social and demographic characteristics that distinguished clusters of students. Findings showed that students formed distinct peer clusters around shared characteristics; particular social characteristics were associated with a student's level of centrality in the classroom; and students with exceptionalities were well integrated into the classroom's social structure. Affiliations of students with exceptionalities suggest topics for future research.
Article
The current study examined three hypotheses about experience in close friendships and psychosocial adjustment. At Time 1, 51 same-sex close friend dyads (n = 102 friends, 51% female, mean age = 20 years) completed self-report measures and participated in a brief observational assessment. The hypothesis that friendship quality would be associated with clinical symptomatology and self-esteem was supported and indicated that high levels of negative friendship features were positively associated with clinical symptoms, whereas positive features were most strongly associated with self-esteem. The second hypothesis that changes in the friendship would be associated with adjustment one year later (68% participation rate at Time 2) was supported only for interpersonal sensitivity such that perceived negative changes in the relationship predicted increased symptoms. Finally, friends’ perceptions of the features and quality of their relationship were somewhat consistent, yet as hypothesized, discordant perceptions predicted higher symptomatology and lower social support and satisfaction in the relationship. The results highlight the importance of considering both positive and negative aspects of friendship in early adulthood.
Article
Children experiencing difficulties in their peer relations have typically been identified using external sources of information, such as teacher referrals or ratings, sociometric measures, and/or behavioral observations. There is a need to supplement these assessment procedures with self-report measures that assess the degree to which the children themselves feel satisfaction with their peer relationships. In this study, a 16-item self-report measure of loneliness and social dissatisfaction was developed. In surveying 506 third- through sixth-grade children, the measure was found to be internally reliable. More than 10% of children reported feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction, and children's feelings of loneliness were significantly related to their sociometric status. The relationship of loneliness and sociometric status to school achievement was also examined.
Article
The Friendship Qualities Scale is a theoretically grounded, multidimensional measurement instrument to assess the quality of children's and early adolescents' relationships with their best friends according to five conceptually meaningful aspects of the friendship relation. These dimensions are companionship, conflict, help/aid, security and closeness. A confirmatory factor analysis, used to evaluate the factor structure of this instrument, demonstrated that these scales represented distinct, but related, domains of friendship. Assessments of reliability indicated the high level of internal consistency within each dimension. The validity of the scale was indicated by the observation of higher ratings for (a) mutual friends than for non-mutual friends, and (b) for stable friends than for non-stable friends. These findings are discussed according to the theoretical and practical issues related to the measurement of friendship quality.
Article
Three conceptually distinct dimensions of classroom social position (number of mutual friendships, social network centrality, and sociometric status) were examined in relation to each other and to peer-nominated behavioral reputation among 205 7- and 8-year old children. There were moderate correlations in children’s standing across the three dimensions, but categorical analyses underscored the limits to these associations (e.g., 39% of Rejected children had at least one mutual friendship; 31% of Popular children did not). Each dimension was associated with a distinct profile of peer-nominated social behavior and, in multiple regression analyses, accounted for unique variance in peer-nominated behaviors. Number of friendships was uniquely associated with prosocial skills; network centrality was uniquely associated with both prosocial and antisocial behavioral styles; and being disliked was uniquely associated with the full range of social behaviors. Results provide empirical validation for the conceptual distinctions among number of reciprocated friendships, social network centrality and being liked or disliked.
Article
The purpose of this study was to develop a method for assessing young children's perceptions of classroom friendships and to determine whether these perceptions were associated with their adjustment during the transition to grade school. Subscales tapping 5 friendship processes (e.g., validation, aid, disclosure of negative affect, exclusivity, conflict) were extracted from a 24-item friendship interview that was individually administered to 82 kindergarten children (M age = 5.61) who possessed a reciprocated and stable “best” friend in their classroom. Children's reports of the investigated friendship processes were found to be reliable, and processes such as perceived validation and conflict predicted children's satisfaction with their friendships, and the stability of these relationships. Perceived conflict in friendships was associated with multiple forms of school maladjustment for boys, including higher levels of school loneliness and avoidance and lower levels of school liking and engagement. For both boys and girls, validation and aid forecasted gains in perceived support from classmates, and aid also predicted improvements in children's school attitudes. Perceived exclusivity in friendships was associated with lower levels of achievement. These findings, and others reported in this article, are consistent with the hypothesis that the relational features of children's classroom friendships yield psychological benefits or costs (e.g., provisions) that, in turn, affect their development and adjustment.
Article
The unique contributions of peer acceptance, friendship, and victimization to adjustment were examined. How these relational systems moderate the influence of one another to influence adjustment was also investigated. Friendship quality, a unique aspect of friendship, was expected to be especially important for adjustment when other relational systems were poor. A total of 238 fifth to eighth graders (boys = 109) participated in the survey-style paradigm. Youth participants completed measures assessing their friendships and peer relationships. Teachers provided assessments of adjustment. Adolescents who had lower levels of peer acceptance, number of friends, and friendship quality had greater teacher-reported maladjustment. Friendship quality was also an important buffer against adjustment problems when peer acceptance and number of friends were low. The outcomes of this article suggest that an approach that includes examining the quality of adolescents' friendships, peer interactions, and interactive models of relationship dimensions are informative for understanding adolescents' general adjustment.
Article
Impaired social functioning is a hallmark of autism spectrum conditions. The purpose of this study was to investigate possible relationship between social functioning and a broader autism phenotype. With a sample of non-clinical undergraduate students from a large, urban university (N = 97; mean age = 19.4 ± 2 years), characteristics associated with autism were measured as well as self-reported dating and friendship history, feelings of loneliness, and social motivation. Results indicate that those individuals with a stronger autism phenotype (e.g., rigidity, preference for sameness, high attention to detail) report significantly more loneliness (r = .52, p < 0.01) and fewer and shorter duration friendships. Also, for participants in romantic relationships, a stronger phenotype was moderately and positively correlated with length of relationship (r = .34, p < 0.05). Findings support the view that individuals with characteristics of autism and related conditions do not necessarily prefer aloneness, as once assumed, but rather experience increased levels of loneliness related to lack of social skill and understanding. Significance and limitations of these findings are discussed and future directions for research and possibilities for social skills training in this population are explored.
Article
The purpose of this study was to develop a method for assessing young children's perceptions of classroom friendships and to determine whether these perceptions were associated with their adjustment during the transition to grade school. Subscales tapping 5 friendship processes (e.g., validation, aid, disclosure of negative affect, exclusivity, conflict) were extracted from a 24-item friendship interview that was individually administered to 82 kindergarten children (M age = 5.61) who possessed a reciprocated and stable "best" friend in their classroom. Children's reports of the investigated friendship processes were found to be reliable, and processes such as perceived validation and conflict predicted children's satisfaction with their friendships, and the stability of these relationships. Perceived conflict in friendships was associated with multiple forms of school maladjustment for boys, including higher levels of school loneliness and avoidance and lower levels of school liking and engagement. For both boys and girls, validation and aid forecasted gains in perceived support from classmates, and aid also predicted improvements in children's school attitudes. Perceived exclusivity in friendships was associated with lower levels of achievement. These findings, and others reported in this article, are consistent with the hypothesis that the relational features of children's classroom friendships yield psychological benefits or costs (e.g., provisions) that, in turn, affect their development and adjustment.
Article
The aims of this longitudinal study were: (1) to assess the continuity and change in diagnosis, intelligence, and language skills in children with autism, Down syndrome, and other developmental delays, (2) to specify the deficits in social competence and language skills in these children, and (3) to identify precursors in the preschool period of gains in language skills and of peer engagement in the mid-school years. The initial sample consisted of 70 children with autism, 93 children with Down syndrome, 59 children with developmental delays, and 108 typically developing children, with the first three groups of children studied when they were between 2 and 6 years of age. At follow-up, 51 children with autism, 71 children with Down syndrome, and 33 children with developmental delays were assessed at mean ages around 10-13 years. The long-term follow-up showed little change in the diagnosis of autism but sizeable improvements in intellectual and language abilities within the autistic group, a pattern that was not seen in the children with Down syndrome. Unique deficits in joint attention, some forms of representational play, responsiveness to the emotions of others, and initiation of peer engagement were identified in the autistic children, whereas the children with Down syndrome seemed to have a specific deficit only in language. Joint attention skills were concurrently associated with language abilities in all groups and predicted long-term gains in expressive language for the children with autism. Children with autism, regardless of their level of functioning, were less socially engaged with classmates than the other developmentally disabled children because they infrequently initiated and accepted play bids, not because they were rebuffed by peers. Early nonverbal communication and play skills were predictors of the frequency of initiations of peer play for the children with Down syndrome as well as the extent of peer engagement of the children with autism. These results suggest that improvements in early communication and play skills may have long-term consequences for later language and social competence in these groups of children.
Article
This study examined the effects of the child's diagnosis (autism vs. Down syndrome), age, and current educational placement on parental perceptions toward inclusion for their child with disabilities. Parents of children with autism and with Down syndrome completed surveys regarding their opinions on their child's current educational placement, their desire for changing the current placement, and their views on inclusive education. Results indicated that diagnosis, age, and current placement influenced parental opinion on the ideal educational placement for their child. Parents of children with Down syndrome were significantly more likely to endorse inclusion (full-time placement in general education) as the ideal educational program for their child whereas parents of children with autism were more likely to endorse mainstreaming (consistent part-time placement with general education students). Parents of younger children and parents whose children were already placed in general education programs were more positive towards inclusion than parents of older children or students currently in special education. Findings are discussed in terms of child characteristics and prevailing educational practices.
Article
Loneliness and friendship were examined in 22 high-functioning children with autism and 19 typically developing children equated with the autistic children for IQ, CA, gender, mother's education, and ethnicity. Children between the ages of 8 and 14 were asked to report on both their understanding and feelings of loneliness and the quality of their friendship. Compared to typically developing children, children with autism were both lonelier and had less complete understandings of loneliness. Although all children with autism reported having at least one friend, the quality of their friendships was poorer in terms of companionship, security, and help. Fewer associations were found between loneliness and friendship for the autistic than for the non-autistic children, suggesting less understanding of the relation between loneliness and friendship. Implications of these results are discussed for conceptualizing the social deficits in autism.
Article
Twenty-one adolescent boys with Asperger syndrome and 21 boys matched on age and an estimate of IQ were assessed using standardized measures of social perception (Child and Adolescent Social Perception Measure, CASP), social skills (parent, teacher, and student forms of the Social Skills Rating System, SSRS), number of close friends and frequency of contact (Child Behavior Checklist) and expressive and receptive language (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-Revised). There were significant differences between groups on CASP scores, SSRS scores, number of friends, frequency of contact and social competence. There was also a significant difference on receptive language. The clinically and statistically significant differences between the groups on the measures of social skills help us understand the nature of the social deficits in Asperger syndrome and suggest the need to focus on specific deficits. These findings are discussed in relation to diagnostic criteria and intervention.
Article
Social interaction with peers and the understanding and feelings of loneliness were examined in 18 high-functioning children with autism and 17 typically developing children matched for IQ, chronological age, gender, and maternal education. Observations were conducted on children's spontaneous social initiations and responses to their peers in natural settings such as recess and snack time, and children reported on their understanding and feelings of loneliness and social interaction. Overall, children with autism revealed a good understanding of both social interaction and loneliness, and they demonstrated a high level of social initiation. However, they spent only half the time in social interactions with peers compared with their matched counterparts, and they interacted more often with a typically developing child than with another special education child. Despite the intergroup differences in frequency of interaction, a similar distribution of interactions emerged for both groups, who presented mostly positive social behaviors, fewer low-level behaviors, and very infrequent negative behaviors. Children with autism reported higher degrees of loneliness than their typical age-mates, as well as a lower association between social interaction and loneliness, suggesting their poorer understanding of the relations between loneliness and social interaction. Research and practice implications of these findings are discussed.
Article
This study of Israeli and American preadolescent children examined characteristics of friendship in 44 children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) compared to 38 typically developing children (TYP), as they interacted with a close friend Participants were 8-12 years of age (HFASD: Israel, n = 24; USA, n = 20; TYP: Israel, n = 23; USA, n = 15), and were matched on SES, receptive language vocabulary, child age, and gender (each study group included one girl). Multidimensional assessments included: individual behaviors of target children and observed child-friend interactions during construction and drawing scenarios; target child's and friend's self-perceived mutual friendship qualities; and mother-reported characteristics (friendship's duration/frequency; friend's age/gender/disability status). Overall, children with HFASD displayed a number of differences on individual and dyadic friendship measures. Both age and verbal abilities affected friendship behaviors. Children with HFASD and their friends perceived friendship qualities similarly, suggesting that preadolescents with HFASD have capacities for interpersonal awareness. Between-group similarities also emerged on several complex social behaviors, suggesting that friendship follows a developmental trajectory in autism and may enhance social interaction skills in autism.
Reciprocity and friendships: listening to the voices of children and youth with and without disabilities Making FriendsFriendship and adaptation in the life course
  • Grenot
  • M Scheyer
  • D Staub
  • C A Peck
  • I S Schwartz
Grenot-Scheyer, M., Staub, D., Peck, C. A. & Schwartz, I. S. (1998) 'Reciprocity and friendships: listening to the voices of children and youth with and without disabilities.' In L. H. Meyer, P. Hyun-Sook, M. Grenot-Scheyer, I. S. Schwartz & B. Harry (eds), Making Friends, pp. 149–168. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes. Hartup, W. W. & Stevens, N. (1997) 'Friendship and adaptation in the life course.' Psychological Review, 121, pp. 355–70.
Identifying Social Clusters in Natural Settings
  • R B Cairns
  • J L Gariepy
  • T Kindermann
Cairns, R. B., Gariepy, J. L. & Kindermann, T. (1990) Identifying Social Clusters in Natural Settings. Unpublished manuscript, Social Development Laboratory, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Reciprocity and friendships: listening to the voices of children and youth with and without disabilities
  • M Grenot-Scheyer
  • D Staub
  • C A Peck
  • I S Schwartz
Grenot-Scheyer, M., Staub, D., Peck, C. A. & Schwartz, I. S. (1998) 'Reciprocity and friendships: listening to the voices of children and youth with and without disabilities.' In L. H. Meyer, P. Hyun-Sook, M. Grenot-Scheyer, I. S. Schwartz & B. Harry (eds), Making Friends, pp. 149-168. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
The Company They Keep: Friendship in Childhood and Adolescence
  • W M Bukowski
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