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Type: Thesis
Title: Friendship experiences of primary school age girls with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents’ and teachers’ perspectives
Author: Tsirgiotis, Joanna
Issue Date: 2016
School/Discipline: School of Psychology
Abstract: Literature pertaining to girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and more specifically high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD), is sparse. Characteristics associated with ASD impact greatly upon one’s ability to form and maintain friendships, however how and to what extent this is true for primary school age girls is unknown. Therefore, the present study aimed to explore friendship experiences in this group of girls, including any that may be gender specific, from their parents’ and teachers’ perspectives. Fourteen participants (eight parents and six teachers) were interviewed surrounding their perceptions of the barriers and strengths surrounding friendships, their importance, and strategies employed to develop them in their daughters or female students with HFASD. The semi-structured interviews were analysed using inductive thematic analysis and results triangulated between participant samples. Fourteen themes were identified and categorised into three sections; the objective characteristics of friendships in girls with HFASD, barriers to forming and maintaining friendships, and facilitating factors for social interaction. Although participants perceived friendships as challenging for girls with HFASD, they considered them vital for social development and wellbeing. The typical nature of girls’ friendships at this age was perceived to exacerbate social difficulties. Additionally, evidence emerged in support of theories suggesting the current ASD diagnostic criteria may not adequately capture the female phenotype; for example, girls may demonstrate apparently superior social skills learned by mimicking peers. Further research should build upon these findings, perhaps considering the views of girls diagnosed and their peers, in order to better inform gender-specific interventions and supports.
Dissertation Note: Thesis (B.Sc.(Hons)) -- University of Adelaide, School of Psychology, 2016
Keywords: Honours; Psychology
Description: This item is only available electronically.
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