The Experience of Social Participation in Everyday Contexts Among Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Experience Sampling Study

J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 Apr;46(4):1403-14. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2682-4.


This study explored the everyday life experiences of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Fourteen Australians and 16 Taiwanese (aged 16-45 years) with Asperger syndrome/high functioning autism recorded what they were doing, level of interest/involvement, emotional reactions and preference for being alone 7 times/day for 7 days. Multilevel analyses showed that 'solitary/parallel leisure' and 'social activities' were positively associated with interest and involvement. Engaging in these two activities and interacting with friends were positively associated with enjoyment. However, engaging in 'social activities' and having less severe ASD symptoms were associated with in-the-moment anxiety. Severity of ASD and social anxiety moderated experience in social situations. The findings highlight the importance of considering the in-the-moment experience of people with ASD.

Keywords: Asperger syndrome; Ecological momentary assessment; Real-life experience; Social interaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Asperger Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Asperger Syndrome / psychology*
  • Australia
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Participation*
  • Young Adult