International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): MEASUREMENT OF PEER INTERACTION IN SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN WITH HFA


Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
10:30 AM
C. Koning , Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
J. Magill-Evans , Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
J. Volden , Speech Language Pathology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Peer interaction in children with ASD may be measured using parent/teacher report and/or direct observation. Parent and teacher reports may provide a biased overview of general skills while direct observation in natural settings is challenging and often affected by a lack of interaction opportunities. The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule measures only social interaction with an adult. As part of a multi-method assessment of social skills, a standardized measure of peer interaction in a simulated situation was developed to measure the skills a child with ASD already uses as well as the effects of social skills intervention.
This poster describes the initial development of an observational measure of peer interaction for children with high-functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger Syndrome (AS). The aim is to provide a "standardized" peer interaction scenario which allows the researcher to observe the child's ability to initiate and respond appropriately to peer interaction.
Sixteen boys with HFA or AS aged 10-12 will participate in a waiting room scenario lasting about 10 minutes. A paid child actor, playing a hand-held video game, sits in a waiting room where the child with ASD is sent to wait. The actor follows a script outlining opportunities to initiate interaction and responses to potential overtures.  Interactions are videotaped and then scored from the video according to a coding protocol.
Inter-rater reliability based on coding from videotape is reported. Scores on the scenario and correlations with measures of social perception (Child and Adolescent Social Perception measure), social responsiveness (Social Responsiveness Scale), social interaction (Vineland), and pragmatic language (Children’s Communication Checklist and Test of Pragmatic Language) will address preliminary validity.
This measure of peer interaction provides an innovative, socially valid measure of peer interaction using a "standardized" situation intended to produce social initiations and maintenance of conversations.