“A different environment for success:” a mixed-methods exploration of social participation outcomes among adolescents on the autism spectrum in an inclusive, interest-based school club

Yu Lun Chen, Wendy Martin, Regan Vidiksis, Kristie Patten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Adolescents on the autism spectrum often experience challenges participating socially in inclusive education. The majority of school-based social supports focuses on social skills training, although research shows that students on the spectrum prefer activity-based social groups over social instructions. Thus, activity-based school clubs incorporating student interests may support social participation. Method: This mixed-methods study explored the preliminary social participation outcomes of adolescents on the spectrum in an inclusive Maker Club at three public schools. The quantitative phase examined longitudinal social behavior rates throughout the school club among students (n = 12). The qualitative phase interviewed six teachers in three schools (n = 6) to explore teacher perceptions of student social outcomes compared to general classrooms and program outcomes associated with the programs. Results: Mixed-effects modeling revealed increased social response rates and social reciprocity over time in both students on the spectrum and non-autistic peers without any group differences. Teachers reported that students on the spectrum engaged more socially than in general classrooms and attributed the positive outcomes to activities encouraging shared interests and the flexible social environment. Conclusions: Inclusive school clubs incorporating shared interests and joint activities among students may socially support students on the spectrum in inclusive education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Disabilities
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • inclusive education
  • interest-driven
  • peer engagement
  • school club
  • social interaction
  • strength-based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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