Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Factors Supporting Social Participation and Friendships for Older Youths With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Peers
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Prevention and Intervention
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Factors Supporting Social Participation and Friendships for Older Youths With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Peers
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911515065. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO2094
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911515065. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO2094
Abstract

Date Presented 4/16/2015

The perspective of older youth with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD), gathered from focus group discussions, highlights supports and barriers to social participation. Their ideas suggest strategies for intervention to promote social participation and friendships for older youth with ASD.

SIGNIFICANCE: Innovatively, this study provides the client-centered perspective of youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to inform intervention regarding social interaction skills leading to friendships. Significantly, the youths’ perspectives will inform the context of services, desired supports, and intervention methods, suggesting intervention that is occupation focused. Difficulties in social interaction for older youth with ASD lead to decreased friendships, causing less satisfaction with all aspects of their lives (Davys & Tickle, 2008). Existing research indicates that youth with ASD have difficulty maintaining friendships, yet they desire relationships. During high school years, youth typically are refining their social interaction skills, spending a great deal of time with peers. Youth with ASD spend most of their free time alone, decreasing opportunity to improve their social skills and to develop friendships (Orsmond & Kuo, 2011). The majority of research on friendships for youth with ASD is based on report by parents and teachers rather than the perspective of the youth (Posserud, Breivik, Gillberg, & Lundervold, 2013).
METHOD: Twelve youth with ASD and 12 youth without ASD attending high schools in northern New England participated in focus groups with youth in the same cohort (with or without ASD) for approximately 90 min. They discussed their opportunities for social participation, experiences, and challenges of social participation and making friends. Youth with ASD were asked about their desire for social participation, barriers, and ideas for enhancing their social interaction skills to support friendships. Youth without ASD were asked about their understanding of and attitudes toward peers with ASD.
RESULTS: This research is in progress; results and specific conclusions are pending. Qualitative thematic analysis of the data includes (1) describing characteristics of social participation and friendships for youths with and without ASD, (2) comparing and contrasting experiences between the two groups to identify supports and barriers to social participation, and (3) identifying strategies that youths with ASD suggest to support establishing friendships in natural contexts. The Model of Human Occupation (MoHO) and the Occupational Therapy Intervention Process Model (OTIPM) provide a theoretical framework for interpreting the data.
Davys, D., & Tickle, E. (2008). Social inclusion and valued roles: A supportive framework. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 15, 358–363. http://dx.doi.org/10.12968/ijtr.2008.15.8.30820
Orsmond, G. I., & Kuo, H.-Y. (2011). The daily lives of adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder: Discretionary time use and activity partners. Autism, 15, 579–599. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361310386503
Posserud, M.-B., Breivik, K., Gillberg, C., & Lundervold, A. J. (2013). ASSERT—The Autism Symptom SElf-ReporT for adolescents and adults: Bifactor analysis and validation in a large adolescent population. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34, 4495–4503. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2013.09.03