New study discards widely held myth of people with Asperger Syndrome
New study finds that social participation and inclusion is highly important for high school students with Asperger syndrome, and that the school setting gives them an important arena to develop their social skills.
– I was expecting to hear more stories about loneliness and the struggle to be around other students, says researcher and student Ingjerd Skafle. Fotoillustrasjon: Colourbox.com.
This is in contrast to the myth held by many that this group of students do not prefer or need the social platform in school settings.
The results come from a student master-project and were recently published by the research group in Special Education at Østfold university college in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (link to article).
The five students interviewed in the study all had Asperger syndrome, a condition residing within the autism spectrum. They were asked about matters related to their perceptions of social aspects in upper high-school settings in Norway.
Although they all desired to partake in social interaction with their peers the participants also highlighted that such interactions can be exhausting, and a lot of time can be spent on trying to do things right in order to fit in.
– I was expecting to hear more stories about loneliness and the struggle to be around other students, says researcher and student Ingjerd Skafle.
– It surprised me that the informants used so much energy on being social because they wanted to - even though it was difficult for them at times. It might be easy to interpret anti-social behavior as the need to be alone, whereas it might be a way to cope with social situations that are difficult. The students I interviewed were determined to overcome their social difficulties, and thus expressed a need to be social – in order to learn social codes, she says.
Skafle says that there clearly is a need for additional research on high school experiences of students with autism.
Skafle, I., Nordahl-Hansen, A. & Øien, R.A. J Autism Dev Disord (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04281-w
Foto of Ingjerd Skafle: Hege Opheim.