Social Interaction in Autism Spectrum Presentation: The Development of the Social Situation Stories Questionnaire (SSSQ)

Prof Doc Thesis

Begum, Aysha 2015. Social Interaction in Autism Spectrum Presentation: The Development of the Social Situation Stories Questionnaire (SSSQ). Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology
AuthorsBegum, Aysha
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Autism spectrum presentations are considered ‘lifelong developmental disabilities’ affecting the way individuals communicate and relate to others, thus significantly impacting on social interaction resulting in various social disadvantages.
To date, the key psychological theory accepted, as an explanation for difficulties observed in autism presentations is the lack of ‘Theory of Mind’ (ToM), which is considered a facet of social cognition required in understanding how to interact socially with others, through the ability to recognise others as alike but also independent. Despite its popularity there are several limitations of this proposed theory. Furthermore many individuals with autism presentations can pass ToM tests at an older age or in adulthood. This has resulted in more sophisticated ToM tests being developed.
This study aims to develop a more sensitive ToM test, which aims to operationalise a more subtle aspect of ToM that adults with autism presentations may have difficulty understanding. The concept of social overtures which are often present in normative social interaction is used in the current study to develop items to discriminate between individuals with and without autism presentations in a questionnaire format. This new test called the Social Situation Stories Questionnaire (SSSQ) was administered to 12 adults with autism presentation and 16 adults without this diagnosis in a matched cohort study. The SSSQ is a two part instrument consisting of general ToM skills and more subtle ToM skills (social overture detection). Findings show no difference between the two groups on the general part of the SSSQ, however individuals with autism presentations were less able to detect the social overtures, thus scoring less well on the more stringent ToM component of the SSSQ.
This novel social cognition test will be used to further understand social interaction differences between adults with and without autism presentation.
Taking a critical realistic epistemological approach differences observed are critically discussed.

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Deposited21 Oct 2015
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