Title

An Unexpected Journey into the Lives of Families and Children with Asperger Syndrome: Using Technology to Facilitate Social Engagement

Start Time

21-10-2011 10:35 AM

End Time

21-10-2011 10:50 AM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

Social interaction is critical to engaging in the public sphere functionally and competently. Many children and adults with Asperger syndrome struggle with social interaction skills needed for many jobs, for developing friendships, and for community participation.1-4 Current research addresses use of technology, especially computers, to address weaknesses in social skills. However, we did not locate any studies examining use of strengths and interests in computers to promote social engagement. Our emphasis on using strengths to promote social engagement for children with Asperger’s syndrome arose from the discussions and observations we made during and following our participatory action research using a computer-based program, iSTAR. In our presentation, we will describe how this change in intervention paradigm occurred through our ongoing collaborations with parents, siblings, and the children. We will promote discussion of ways to promote social engagement for children with AS and their families using a meaningful occupation with computers and participatory action methods.

iSTAR is an interdisciplinary project using SketchUp™ (part of Project Spectrum sponsored by Google) to promote exploration and development of skills for future jobs. Our original intent was to respond to parental input for a program to teach children with Asperger’s syndrome and high functioning autism computer skills for future jobs. However, during the program and at the end of the program we learned through our focus group discussions, observations, and videotaped observations that authentic friendships, enhanced peer status, and a sense of hope, were outcomes/themes we observed and that our parents commented on most often. These preliminary outcomes arose from thematic analyses of the videotapes of workshop sessions, presentations by the six children to their families, presentations by the children at their schools, interviews with parents, and two focus group discussions with parents. Trustworthiness was promoted through use of multiple data collection methods, use of an independent reviewer, and member checking with parents.

Discussion questions:

  1. How we further promote social engagement of children with ASD or HFA with their peers and families through technology and participatory action research?
  2. How might engagement in community programs such iSTAR contribute to future health and quality of life for children with ASD or HFA and their families?

References

Farley, M.A., McMahon, W.M., Fombonne, E., J et al. (2009). Twenty-year outcome for individuals with autism and average or nearaverage cognitive abilities. Autism Research, 2(2), 109-118. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aur.69

Barnhill, G. P. (2007). Outcomes in adults with Asperger syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22 (2), 116-126. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/10883576070220020301

Rao, P. A., Beidel, B. L., & Murray, M. J. (2008). Social skills intervention for children with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism: A review and recommendations. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38 (2), 353-361, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803- 007-0402-4

Church, C., Alisanki, S., & Amanullah, S. (2000). The social, behavioral, and academic experiences of children with Asperger syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 15, 12-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/108835760001500102

McIntyre, A. (2008). Participatory Action Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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Research paper

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Oct 21st, 10:35 AM Oct 21st, 10:50 AM

An Unexpected Journey into the Lives of Families and Children with Asperger Syndrome: Using Technology to Facilitate Social Engagement

Social interaction is critical to engaging in the public sphere functionally and competently. Many children and adults with Asperger syndrome struggle with social interaction skills needed for many jobs, for developing friendships, and for community participation.1-4 Current research addresses use of technology, especially computers, to address weaknesses in social skills. However, we did not locate any studies examining use of strengths and interests in computers to promote social engagement. Our emphasis on using strengths to promote social engagement for children with Asperger’s syndrome arose from the discussions and observations we made during and following our participatory action research using a computer-based program, iSTAR. In our presentation, we will describe how this change in intervention paradigm occurred through our ongoing collaborations with parents, siblings, and the children. We will promote discussion of ways to promote social engagement for children with AS and their families using a meaningful occupation with computers and participatory action methods.

iSTAR is an interdisciplinary project using SketchUp™ (part of Project Spectrum sponsored by Google) to promote exploration and development of skills for future jobs. Our original intent was to respond to parental input for a program to teach children with Asperger’s syndrome and high functioning autism computer skills for future jobs. However, during the program and at the end of the program we learned through our focus group discussions, observations, and videotaped observations that authentic friendships, enhanced peer status, and a sense of hope, were outcomes/themes we observed and that our parents commented on most often. These preliminary outcomes arose from thematic analyses of the videotapes of workshop sessions, presentations by the six children to their families, presentations by the children at their schools, interviews with parents, and two focus group discussions with parents. Trustworthiness was promoted through use of multiple data collection methods, use of an independent reviewer, and member checking with parents.

Discussion questions:

  1. How we further promote social engagement of children with ASD or HFA with their peers and families through technology and participatory action research?
  2. How might engagement in community programs such iSTAR contribute to future health and quality of life for children with ASD or HFA and their families?