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Friendship in young people with Asperger's syndrome

Barrett, Pippa; (2002) Friendship in young people with Asperger's syndrome. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The understanding and experiences of twenty young people with Asperger's syndrome (AS) were compared with those of nineteen age-matched neurotypical young people. The participants were aged between eleven and nineteen years of age. They were asked: first, to define "a friend"; second, to say whether or not they thought that friends were important; third, to complete a questionnaire that asked about what they did with their friends; and fourth, to rate the behaviours of two friends in each of six story vignettes. Supplementary information was obtained by means of a brief semi-structured interview with each of the participants and, about the Asperger's group, by means of questionnaires completed by some of their parents and staff It was found that, whilst the definitions of friendship that the AS group gave were similar in content to those of the neurotypical group, some, at least, had a rather theoretical quality. Although most of the AS group thought that friendships were important, significantly fewer of them than of the neurotypical group mentioned the importance of companionship in explaining why. Responses to the friendship questionnaire suggested that there were differences between the two groups in terms of the security of their friendships, that is the extent to which they felt able to rely upon their friends and to transcend any differences arising. There were significant between-group differences in the responses to five of the six friendship vignettes, suggesting that young people with AS have a different perspective on what is and is not appropriate social behaviour. Information from the semi-structured interviews and the parent and staff questionnaires was used to provide illustrations of the between-groups differences that emerged and also to highlight instances where the formal measures perhaps failed to access fully the lived experience of the young people with AS. The difficulties that the AS group faced in forming and maintaining friendships were explored, with a view to considering how their friendships could best be supported. Directions for future research were suggested and possible methodologies were considered.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Friendship in young people with Asperger's syndrome
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Asperger's syndrome
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099190
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