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Computer Supported Collaborative Conflict Negotiation Strategy Application for Adolescents with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders

Friday, 3 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
M. Hochhauser, P. L. Weiss and E. Gal, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel

Adolescents with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders (HFASD) have difficulty in sharing affective experiences, negotiating and problem solving, all of which lead to problems in dealing with social conflict. This frequently escalates into social isolation and anxiety and difficulty in forming and maintaining meaningful relationships. 


To examine the usability and sensitivity of CONTACT (Conflict Orientation Negotiation Training Among Children and Teens), a multi-user, collaborative application designed to identify, classify and treat conflict resolution skills within a technology-supported, constructivist learning environment. CONTACT is based on the COSPATIAL No-Problem authoring application ( with new content related to conflict resolution scenarios.


During Phase 1, two focus groups, consisting of 6 healthcare professionals and 10 parents of adolescents with HFASD, were conducted to explore experiences related to conflict mismanagement which arise in this population. The narrated vignettes were transformed into scripts which were then used to produce a series of videotaped scenarios that portray 12 scenes of typical adolescent conflicts during daily life activities, and three videotaped responses to each presented conflict.  CONTACT is designed to provide the participants with opportunities to select, discuss and role play adaptive or non-adaptive strategies. 

To date, 16 typically developed adolescents and 9 adolescents with HFASD, aged 12-18 years, completed two conflict questionnaires: CONFLICTALK and the Five Factor Negotiation Scale (FFNS, designed to measure adolescent conflict resolution styles. Thereafter the participants were presented with the 12 videotaped scenarios portraying social conflicts and asked to choose one of the following strategies for dealing with the conflict: a confrontational response, a submissive response, or a compromise-oriented response.   Subsequently they were asked to report on this experience by filling out the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI) task evaluation questionnaire that assesses a user’s interest, enjoyment, perceived competence and satisfaction.


The results for the FFN conflict questionnaire showed that adolescents with HFASD were significantly less confident (U = 35.5, P = 0.03) than typical adolescents (U = 35.5, P = 0.03), demonstrated significantly fewer communication skills (U = 27, P = 0.01) and were less able to compromise (U = 27, P = 0.01) than typical adolescents when they reported how they resolved conflict. The results for the CONFLICTALK questionnaire showed that adolescents with HFASD showed significantly more passive and avoidance characteristics than typical adolescents when dealing with conflict (U = 37.5, P = 0.04). Similarly, in their responses to the CONTACT conflict scenarios, adolescents with HFASD used submissive strategies with significantly greater frequency than did typical adolescents (U = 28,   P = 0.01). Finally, the IMI showed that the two groups had equivalent levels of Interest/ Enjoyment, Perceived Competence and Perceived Choice when using CONTACT but that adolescents with HFASD felt significantly  greater pressure and tension  than did typical adolescents (U = 20.5, P = 0.002).


CONTACT appears to be a feasible, user friendly and sensitive application for querying adolescents' responses to conflict.

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