Research over the past decade has acknowledged the impacts of characteristics and life-functioning for individuals on the autism spectrum. Models of support or interventions strategies have been researched but little, or limited practical or resourced models appeared as accessible for families of older youth.
The intention of this research paper was to investigate a specific activity group for youth on the autism spectrum. The group runs concurrently with a parent group and is funded through a respite funding provision.
The research identified three main themes that delineate the activity group as relationships, successes and issues. Using a mixed methods design, eighteen individuals were surveyed to ascertain their opinions on the activity group and four individuals with varying roles in the group were interviewed to discover what the participant considered were the best aspects of the group for them, why the group worked, what might change and if they had any suggestions for group activity or structure.
The sociocultural theory of Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) and the work of psychologist Dr Tony Attwood were also examined to establish links between theory and practice in the understanding of the social implications of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
INTRODUCTION - overview and understanding of ASD
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), while not a specific diagnostic category, describes a spectrum or range of cognitive and communicative abilities with consequential patterns of behaviour in areas of social interaction, communication, interests and activities within the range of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, which include Autism and Asperger syndrome. ASD impacts across the lifespan on an individual’s life functioning. (Attwood, 2007). It is estimated that Autism occurs in approximately 1-2 individuals in every 1000 people, and Aspergers syndrome in [at least] 1 individual in every 500 people. Interestingly, there are four times as many males as females