An Examination of the Social Networks of Children with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom
Power, Peggy A.
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ABSTRACT POWER, PEGGY ANN. Examining the Social Networks of Children with Autism in Inclusive Classroom Settings. (Under the direction of Rick Van Acker). Including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in inclusive classroom settings has become more prevalent with the intention of enhancing academic and social development. However, little is known about how these children are faring. This study examined the social networks of children with ASD who spent more than 50 percent of their school day in inclusive classroom settings. The sample consisted of 20 students with ASD and their classmates in 14 third- through fifth-grade classes (N = 359) in a large Midwestern city. Through the administration of social cognitive mapping and peer behavioral assessments, data were gathered on four measures of social competence: peer relations, behavior problems, social skills and social cognition. Findings revealed that the majority of students with ASD were identified as social isolates and characterized as rejected by their peers. The few students with ASD who were able to gain entry into a peer group tended to have higher rates of externalizing antisocial behaviors (e.g., gets in trouble, disruptive) and affiliated in peer groups that were characterized as being shy, asks for help and sad. Interestingly, the majority of the students with ASD that were socially isolated tended to be perceived by their peers with these same traits. Social cognitive accuracy measures further revealed that children with ASD tended to be aware of the friendship networks within their classrooms but were not particularly aware of their own membership in their classroom's social network, regardless of their social status. Students with ASD also were not particularly aware of their antisocial externalizing behaviors when compared with peer consensus reports. The findings of this study suggest that social cognition may indeed be a mediating factor in developing peer relations.
social cognitive mapping
Date available in INDIGO2013-02-21T21:15:36Z
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