Social Networking and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Study of Online Friendship
Corey M. Hall, Northcentral University, United States
Northcentral University . Awarded
Students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face unique social and adaptive challenges in traditional school settings. These challenges have been addressed in a variety of ways in schools throughout the United States. Little research has been conducted in the use of alternative methods of communication to meet the needs of these students. Social media provides a unique opportunity for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder to interact with peers and members of the larger online community in a manner that is nonthreatening and safe. This qualitative, multiple-case study explored the nature of social media use by five high school students with ASD in central Pennsylvania. Specifically, the study analyzed perspectives of students in Palmyra Area School District in Lebanon County and The Janus School in Lancaster County. The study examined one central research question and five sub-questions, involving a series of interviews, participant observations through Facebook, and responses on an online open-ended questionnaire. Four themes of social media use emerged from data analysis: making contact, dueling it out, sharing lives, and exploring their world. The findings will contribute to the field by increasing the understanding of the online social habits of students with autism spectrum disorder and the prospects of using alternative methods for encouraging and enhancing social connectedness and friendships for these students. Recommendations for future study include additional case studies from different geographical regions and age groups. Additionally, quantitative studies will answer additional questions about the online behavioral habits of students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Hall, C.M. Social Networking and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Study of Online Friendship. Ph.D. thesis, Northcentral University.
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