Developing social interaction and understanding in high functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorder

Dunlop, Aline-Wendy and Knott, Fiona and MacKay, Thomas (2007) Developing social interaction and understanding in high functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorder. In: Autism. Wiley-Blackwell, London, pp. 260-280. ISBN 9781405156967

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Abstract

The nature of the social impairments that lie at the heart of the autism spectrum is highlighted throughout this volume (see, e.g., chapters by Golan & Baron-Cohen; Loth; Jones, & Klin, Maestro & Muratori, Wicker, Williams). These impairments are considered to be the primary deficit (Fein, Pennington, Markowitz, Braverman, & Waterhouse, 1986) and can be seen across the lifespan. They reflect difficulties in understanding others’ minds, engaging in interaction which is truly reciprocal, and understanding concepts such as friendship. For individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the impact of these difficulties is severe, affecting the ability to make and sustain satisfying friendships and other relationships, and contributing to difficulties accessing education and later employment. The need to provide appropriate and effective intervention is therefore paramount. In this chapter, we therefore describe and reflect on a two-year project which aimed to develop and assess social interaction and understanding groups for children and adolescents with ASD. The design, implementation, and outcomes of the project are discussed, together with reflections from practical experience on the running of such groups.