Using personal construct methodology to explore relationships with adolescents with autism spectrum disorder

Murphy, Mark, Burns, J. and Kilbey, E. (2017) Using personal construct methodology to explore relationships with adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 70. pp. 22-32. ISSN 0891-4222.

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Background: Research shows that adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience difficulties developing friendships, and that loneliness is a significant factor contributing to higher incidence of anxiety and depression within this population.

Aims: This study aimed to provide an in-depth analysis of relationships as described by adolescents with ASD, and, from these descriptions, to explore what can be inferred about the development of successful interpersonal relationships for these individuals.

Methods and Procedure: Eight adolescents with ASD participated in semi-structured interviews using established personal construct theory (PCT) techniques.

Outcomes and Results: PCT was found to be a helpful approach to elicit rich, qualitative data. A thematic analysis identified four themes: relationships as a source of support, perceptions of similarity and difference, valued qualities in self and others, and the development and maintenance of relationships.

Conclusions and Implications: Whilst this exploratory study highlighted some commonality in terms of perceptions of family support and friendships as protective and desirable, participants differed in their ability to establish and maintain peer relationships. Participants valued personal qualities such as intelligence, humour and trust within relationships, and recognised the important role of peers and siblings in the development of social skills, a finding which has implications for the delivery of social skills training and other interventions. The study provides empirical support for the application of personal construct methodologies in ASD research and offers a potentially useful approach to therapeutic intervention.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0712 Developmental psychology > BF0724 Adolescence
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0076.5 Psychology research
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ0499 Mental disorders. Child psychiatry > RJ0506.A9 Autism
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Prof Jan Burns
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2017 13:41
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 08:36

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00