Objectives: The pilot study aims to identify the feasibility of using ESM to explore everyday experience in individuals with ASD in preparation for a larger study.
Methods: Two people with Asperger’s syndrome, a male aged 23 and a female aged 31 years, were asked to carry an iPod Touch which prompted them randomly, 7 times/day for 7 days, to repeatedly respond to a short questionnaire (less than 2 minutes in duration) regarding what they were doing, why, with whom, how they felt and what they thought about the involved situation. Semi-structured interviews were completed at the end of sampling. The reasons for activity engagement were then coded into intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and amotivation for analysis. Reliability of the method was examined by comparing means of each participant’s internal experiences between the first and second halves of the week, while validity was investigated by calculating z-scores to account for variation in individual reporting.
Results: The participants responded to the questionnaire 45 and 31 out of 49 times, respectively. There were no significant differences in internal experience, except being involved, between the first and second halves of the week. Compared with responses with extrinsic motivation and amotivation, the responses with intrinsic motivation showed high levels of enjoyment and interest in activity, and preferring to continue the same activity. These findings support the internal validity of the method. In addition, moderate correlations between internal experience (i.e., interest in activities, being involved, enjoyment and anxiety) as well as between loneliness and aspects of reciprocal interaction (i.e., being listened to and caring for others) illustrated the questionnaire can sensitively capture internal experience and thoughts. The participants reported that the questions were straightforward and the method was easy and convenient, although the prompting slightly interfered with their daily activities.
Conclusions: The study has illustrated the feasibility of using ESM in people with ASD to self-report their engagement in daily life by reflecting on their own mental states and thoughts. The study supported the use of ESM for examining internal experience and the impacts of social contexts on everyday experiences in individuals with ASD.
See more of: Cognition and Behavior
See more of: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Phenotype