Piloting the use of experience sampling method to investigate the everyday social experiences of children with Asperger syndrome/high functioning autism

Dev Neurorehabil. 2016;19(2):103-10. doi: 10.3109/17518423.2014.915244. Epub 2014 May 19.


Objective: This pilot study explored the nature and quality of social experiences of children with Asperger Syndrome/High Functioning Autism (AS/HFA) through experience sampling method (ESM) while participating in everyday activities.

Methods: ESM was used to identify the contexts and content of daily life experiences. Six children with AS/HFA (aged 8-12) wore an iPod Touch on seven consecutive days, while being signalled to complete a short survey.

Results: Participants were in the company of others 88.3% of their waking time, spent 69.0% of their time with family and 3.8% with friends, but only conversed with others 26.8% of the time. Participants had more positive experiences and emotions when they were with friends compared with other company. Participating in leisure activities was associated with enjoyment, interest in the occasion, and having positive emotions.

Conclusions: ESM was found to be helpful in identifying the nature and quality of social experiences of children with AS/HFA from their perspective.

Keywords: Activities of daily living; autism spectrum disorder; child experience; experience sampling method; pilot study; social inclusion.

MeSH terms

  • Asperger Syndrome / psychology*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mothers
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Research Design
  • Sampling Studies*
  • Siblings
  • Social Behavior*