Adolescents with autism are far less likely than their peers
with other disabilities to hang out with friends after school or
attend group activities.
A Washington University researcher recently found that half of
teenage students with autism spectrum disorders were significantly
more likely than teens with learning disabilities, mental
retardation and speech and language impairments to not be invited
out to social activities.
Analyzing data-including surveys of parents and school
officials-on 11,000 special education students, Paul Shattuck, an
autism expert and assistant professor at Washington University in
St. Louis, found that kids with autism are more isolated than their
peers and tend to interact in one-on-one situations.
"Not surprisingly, conversational impairment and low social
communication skills were associated with a lower likelihood of
social participation," Shattuck says in the study.
It suggests group activities and programs, such as clubs and
sports, as one area of intervention.
But perhaps less obvious is the potential of social networking
in promoting such relationships.
Shattuck recommends that future research study ways to take
advantage of electronic media to help those with autism spectrum
disorders improve their interactions and connections with others in
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