Autism; virtual environments; social skills
This phenomenological study examined the social interactions during online game play in a virtual environment for five young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who attended a large metropolitan university, enrolled in the first 60 credits of a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field of study. Given the evolution of technology and opportunities to socialize in virtual communities, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how young adults with ASD assimilate into new social opportunities that provide supports for extraneous variables such as face-to-face situations. As research begins to emerge on virtual environments there is little research addressed specific to socialization and the development of interpersonal relationships. Further, there is a distinct lack of research specific to young adults with ASD who engage socially in virtual environments. A phenomenological research method was used to explain the social activities as they occurred for this specific group of individuals. Structured and unstructured interviews, observations, document analysis, and a self-reporting survey were conducted and collected. Analysis used emergent coding following Moustakas* modified Van Kaam method (1994). Common themes were identified and reported through lists and tables. In summary, this study described how young adults with ASD socialized within a virtual community. This study provided findings that individuals with ASD actively seek friendships, recognize emotions, understand roles within the game and real life use skills necessary for success in postsecondary education and STEM related careers, and lays the foundation for continuing research using virtual environments to support interpersonal relationships that may support greater postsecondary outcomes.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Education; Exceptional Education
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Education and Human Performance; Education and Human Performance -- Dissertations, Academic
Gallup, Jennifer, "Examining the Social Interactions of Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders in a Virtual Environment" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1215.