-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Teens with autism are far
less likely than other teens to have a social life outside of
school, a new study reports.
U.S. researchers analyzed national data on more than 11,000
teens enrolled in special education and found that among those with
autism, 43 percent never see friends outside of school, 54 percent
never get called by friends and about half are never invited to
For teens with autism, "it appears that experiences with peers
are more likely to occur one-on-one, and perhaps at home rather
than in the community," study author Paul Shattuck, an autism
expert and assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington
University in St. Louis, said in a university news release.
He noted that having limited or no social relationships with
peers can have a harmful effect on mental and physical health,
particularly during the teen years.
One way to establish social relationships with peers is by
participating in group activities such as sports, clubs or
scouting, Shattuck suggested. But only one-third of teens with
autism are involved in such activities, "and there is an obvious
need for greater supports and services to promote community
inclusion for this population," Shattuck said in the news
Autism, which affects about 1 in 110 U.S. children, is
characterized by impaired communication, poor social interactions
and repetitive behaviors, according to information from the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shattuck and his colleagues also found that poor communication
and conversational skills were associated with lower levels of
"Having impaired conversational ability was associated with an elevated risk for friends never calling, never being invited to activities, and having no involvement in extracurricular activities," Shattuck said.
The study was published online Nov. 14 in the journal
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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