Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Abel Knochel

Abstract

There’s a wealth of research that provides evidence of an association between visual media and behavior problems among typically developing children. However, no research was located that examines the association between these variables in adolescents with ASDs. This current study begins to fill this gap in literature while examining possible positive effects of visual media on social behavior through the following research question: What effect does visual media have on the social interactions of adolescents with autism spectrum disorders? The design of the present study was a cross-sectional, quantitative study in which twenty participants completed an online questionnaire.

The present study found that adolescents with ASDs who had high language skills more frequently interacted with peers than adolescents with low language skills. This study also found that of adolescents who engage in visual media use weekly or more, 90% play video games, 85% use computers, 80% engage with Apps (via iPad/iPod/Kindle), 75% watch television, 35% use social media and 25% engage with other forms of visual media (DVDs, DS, and using iPad for Wikipedia) which is more than twice as often as another study (Mazurek et al., 2011). This study also showed that adolescents with ASDs who frequently use the computer have fewer interactions about visual media with their siblings.

Future research should continue to explore the relationship between visual media and the social interactions of adolescents with ASDs. Interventions using visual media with adolescents with ASDs to help improve their social interactions, should be explored by social workers and other mental health professionals as an intervention.

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