The study describes the perspectives of individuals with Asperger syndrome and other autism spectrum disabilities (ASDs) regarding social challenges and supports. Eighteen adults with ASDs were individually interviewed. They were asked to describe their experiences navigating their social worlds, and recommend effective social supports and strategies for improving social connectedness. Qualitative analyses of the interview transcripts revealed a number of common experiences including a profound sense of isolation, difficulty initiating social interactions, challenges relating to communication, longing for greater intimacy, desire to contribute to one’s community, and effort to develop greater social/self-awareness. Commonly recommended social supports included external supports (e.g. activities based on shared interests, highly structured or scripted social activities, and small groups or dyads); communication supports (e.g. alternative modes of communication, explicit communication, and instruction in interpreting and using social cues); and self-initiated strategies for handling social anxiety (e.g. creative/improvisational outlets, physical activity, spiritual practice/organized religion, and time spent alone).

Author(s): Eve Muller, Adriana Schuler & Gregory B. Yates

Journal: Autism

Date: 2008

Volume: 12

Issue: 2

Pages: 173-190

DOI: 10.1177/1362361307086664

Databased: Yes

Disabilities: Autism Spectrum Disorders

Categories: Individuals with disabilities