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Friends Like You: Friendships of Secondary School Pupils with ASD

McLeary, GJ; (2016) Friends Like You: Friendships of Secondary School Pupils with ASD. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are increasingly included in mainstream schooling in the UK, yet there exists many challenges for these pupils negotiating the process of inclusion. This study examined the understandings and perspectives of friendship in 10 Secondary school pupils with ASD who attended mainstream provision in one Local Authority in comparison with typically-developing peers. A mixed-methodology comparative approach was utilised to examine friendships of pupils with ASD (n=10) and typically-developing peers (n=10). Self-reported friendship quality scales were compared, along with friendship motivation scales. A socio-cognitive mapping exercise was included to demonstrate the perspective of peers of pupils with ASD from their form classes. Pupils with ASD and their typically-developing peers were interviewed to gain qualitative data around friendships for comparison. Parental perspectives were investigated for both groups also. Measures of friendship quality and friendship motivation did not significantly differ between participants with ASD and typically-developing participants and no pupils were found to be socially isolated. Pupils with ASD though were more likely to have less-central roles in classroom social networks. The friendships of pupils with ASD had many features in common with those of their typically-developing peers, but differences emerged in terms of the quantity and features of their friendships, with pupils with ASD having smaller friendship groups and friends who offers support and mediation for social experiences. Changes in friendship occur as pupils progress into Secondary school, with pupils with ASD feeling that they understand themselves better and are looking for friends who understand them in turn. The role of social media as a safe and controlled environment in which friendship interactions take place was discussed by pupils with ASD also. These results have important implications for parents, pupils, and educational staff and offer a summation of the differential experience of friendship in pupils with ASD.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Friends Like You: Friendships of Secondary School Pupils with ASD
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1529366
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