Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher.
Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?
Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.
Exploring interpersonal and environmental factors of autistic adolescents’ peer engagement in integrated educationAutistic students often struggle to engage with peers in integrated education; however, research has largely focused on individual characteristics rather than the interpersonal and environmental factors affecting peer engagement. This mixed-methods study examined longitudinal peer interactions over a school year among 17 adolescents (seven were autistic) in an inclusive school club. The quantitative phase investigated participants’ social behavior rates to identify sessions where each student demonstrated high and low peer engagement compared with their average participation levels. The qualitative phase compared social interactions and contexts between sessions of high and low peer engagement, revealing four themes regarding contextual supports and barriers to autistic peer engagement: (1) peer engagement is a participatory process where a student and their peer(s) navigate mutual understanding, shaped by both student and peer social characteristics, openness, and involvement; (2) student–peer synchronicity, such as shared interests or compatibility of social styles, was essential to autistic peer engagement; (3) peer engagement can be supported by activities facilitating joint engagement and exploration of mutual interests; (4) classroom interventions emphasizing strengths can support peer engagement, while normative behavioral standards without peer education on individual differences and diversity can perpetuate peers’ negative perceptions of autistic difficulties. Lay abstract Peer engagement ismore »
Peer preferences and characteristics of same-group and cross-group social interactions among autistic and non-autistic adolescentsSocial interaction is inherently bidirectional, but research on autistic peer interactions often frames communication as unidirectional and in isolation from the peer context. This study investigated natural peer interactions among six autistic and six non-autistic adolescents in an inclusive school club over 5 months (14 45-min sessions in total) to examine the students’ peer preferences in real-world social interactions and how the preferences changed over time. We further examined whether social behavior characteristics differ between student and peer neurotype combinations. Findings showed that autistic students were more likely to interact with autistic peers then non-autistic peers. In both autistic and non-autistic students, the likelihood of interacting with a same-neurotype peer increased over time. Autistic and non-autistic students’ within-neurotype social interactions were more likely to reflect relational than functional purposes, be characterized as sharing thoughts and experiences rather than requesting help or objects, and be highly reciprocal, as compared with cross-neurotype interactions. These peer preferences and patterns of social interactions were not found among student-peer dyads with the same genders. These findings suggest that peer interaction is determined by more than just a student’s autism diagnosis, but by a combination of student and peer neurotypes. Lay abstract Autistic students often experience challengesmore »
Experiences of Students, Teachers, and Parents Participating in an Inclusive, School-Based Informal Engineering Education ProgramAbstract Many youth on the autism spectrum possess interests and strengths for STEM-related postsecondary pathways, yet there are few research-based programs to support those interests and competencies including complex problem solving and social communication. This qualitative study explored the experiences and perceived outcomes of students, teachers, and parents participating in an inclusive, strength-based, extracurricular engineering design program entitled the IDEAS Maker Club. Twenty-six students, 13 parents, and nine teachers in the program completed interviews and program logs while researchers conducted classroom observations over 2 years. Thematic analysis identified five common themes: (1) positive student experience and engagement, (2) skills acquisition, (3) development of interest in STEM and related careers, (4) social relationships and community, and (5) safe spaces that supported self-determination.