More than Leisure: Organized Activity Participation and Socio-Emotional Adjustment Among Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

Adolescents with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD) experience difficulties with socio-emotional adjustment, including compromised friendships, feelings of loneliness, and depression. Using a sample of 127 adolescents with HFASD and their parents, this study is first to examine: (1) relations between organized activity (OA) involvement and adjustment and (2) whether these relations were moderated by social impairment and executive functions. Results indicated that greater intensity, breadth, and academic OA involvement were associated with fewer depressive symptoms. OA intensity was also associated with less loneliness. For adolescents with better emotional control, greater intensity was associated with better friendship quality. Results suggest that for adolescents with HFASD, more involvement in OA is associated with better socio-emotional adjustment even after accounting for risk factors.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) at the Kennedy Krieger Institute for their assistance in recruitment for this study. Compensation for study participants was funded by an internal research grant from Loyola University Chicago.

Author Contributions

AB conceived of the study, provided oversight in its design, interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. RL conceived of the study, coordinated its design, performed the statistical analyses, interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. NA performed the statistical analyses, interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Amy Bohnert.

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Bohnert, A., Lieb, R. & Arola, N. More than Leisure: Organized Activity Participation and Socio-Emotional Adjustment Among Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 2637–2652 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2783-8

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Organized activity
  • Social adjustment