Purpose and Hypotheses of the Study The purpose of this study was to evaluate the differences between the way that children with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (referred to as HFASD) and typical children approach friendships, based upon several criteria. The researchers hypothesized that due to their lack of social skills, the children with HFASD would perform worse in every category across the board, and that the friendships of children with HFASD would have different qualities than those of typical children.
The study took place in both Israel and the United States. There were 44 children with HFASD, and 48 without. Each target child also brought one of their closest friends (with whom they had been friends for
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During the course of the study, the children were taken in groups of two (consisting of a child and his/her friend) and given two tasks to complete with their friend. The first task was a construction game which consisted of having the children collaborate to construct a marble raceway from a kit. The second task was a drawing activity where they would have to use various art supplies to create a shared design. They were observed and videotaped while they completed these tasks, each for 20 minutes. The videotapes were later evaluated using the FOS (Friendship Observation Scale) to determine their friendship behaviors, and the Dyadic Relationships Q-Set to gauge the quality of their interactions.
The children and their friends were also given the FQS (Friendship Qualities Scale) on an individual basis, which rated the qualities of companionship, security, closeness, help and conflict within each friendship.
In addition, the mother of each target child was interviewed for specific information about the friend and the nature of the friendship.
Results and Discussion While the study was intended to look at the differences between the ways the two groups interact with their friends, the results also indicated a surprising number of similarities. The results showed that the groups with an HFASD child were more likely to participate in