Silver, Katharine (2010)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The ‘social deficits’ of people with Asperger syndrome (AS) are well evidenced both in personal accounts and in research. However, there is a lack of understanding of what adults with AS find useful to know in social situations. This study explored the information that three adults with Asperger syndrome found ‘useful to know’ in social situations, specifically whether they were able to guess the intentions of others and considered this useful. A case study approach involving semi structured interviews and diary accounts, revealed that participants focussed primarily on the self in social situations (e.g. ‘will I be ok?’) so found guessing the intention of others useful. Participants noticed the unusual in relation to people or situations as a cue to go ‘on alert’, then used their uncovered existing knowledge of the person or situation to guess their intention. Personalised systems to support social understanding were developed with each participant and used in a range of ‘here and now’ social situations, as well as in text messaging, past and future situations. Participants reported that using their ‘systems’ and specifically using their own knowledge, reduced their dependency on staff and increased their independent social understanding. The findings of this study provide a practical addition to current approaches to supporting social understanding and have implications regarding what may be useful for young people with autism to learn in order to prepare for the adult social world.
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