Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Peggy P. Wittman

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Abstract

This study set out to answer four questions regarding the friendships of children with ASD: 1) what elements of friendship are most important, 2) what elements of friendship are most common, 3) do these elements change with peer exposure, and 4) how do these children experience co-occupations? Phenomenological methods were used to analyze interviews of three children with ASD (age 10). Literature review included discussion of definitions of friendship, and definitions of co-occupation, as relevant to the study. Identified themes include the lunchroom as a social context, reciprocity through co-occupations, trust, keeping friends means being a good friend, engagement in virtual occupations, and individual perceptions. The author provides alternate explanations for the experience of co-occupation described by participants. The study provides implications for future research and for occupational therapists.

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