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The Use of the Repertory Grid Technique in Children With Asperger Disorder and High Functioning Autism.

Walsh, Sara. (2003) The Use of the Repertory Grid Technique in Children With Asperger Disorder and High Functioning Autism. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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People with Asperger disorder (AS) and high functioning autism (HFA) have an increased chance of social isolation and referral to services due to mental health difficulties or challenging behaviour. Personal construct psychology (Kelly, 1955) applied through the repertory grid technique provides a method of understanding the individual’s perspective while maintaining a structured, task based approach that may not be hindered by the communication and interpersonal difficulties evident in people on the autistic spectrum. This study aimed to investigate if the repertory grid approach could be used with boys diagnosed with AS or HFA. It was hypothesised that the AS and HFA children would exhibit a construct system that was tight and polarised, suggesting a rigid view of the world compared to children with ADHD. It was also hypothesised that the AS and HFA children would be less likely to chose constructs that related to mood, due to difficulties that this client group have in understanding the emotions of others. The AS and HFA group were considered more likely than the ADHD children to chose constructs that were based on physical appearance and preferences. No difference was expected between the groups on the grid measures of self esteem or social isolation. A total of 32 children between 8-16 years old completed the assessment (15 in the AS and HFA group and 17 children with ADHD). There was no difference in age between the two groups (mean ages; AS + HFA group = 12.6 yrs, ADHD group=12.4 yrs) or verbal reasoning ability as measured by the similarities test of the British Ability Scale (mean T-score; AS and HFA group = 56.2, ADHD groups 54.5). The AS and HFA group were all able to complete the repertory grid assessment in under one hour. A description of two grids of children with AS gave an example of the possible information gained from this approach, which was consistent and elaborated on information from the child’s clinical notes. There was no difference between the two groups on measures of tightness or polarisation in the grids and no difference between the measures of self esteem or social isolation. There was generally greater variability between individuals than between the groups, which is consistent with the personal aspect of Kelly’s construct theory. There was also no difference between the types of constructs elicited between the two groups with most children choosing constructs relating to personal and interpersonal attributes rather than emotion or physical appearance/preferences. These results may have been influenced by the use of a prompt sheet of words to assist with grid completion. The results of the study require replication due to the small sample size. However, this study suggests that the repertory grid approach may be a clinically useful tool to gain a common understanding of the perception of the social world of AS and HFA children. Further research is required to assess the impact this approach may have on assessment, intervention and clinical outcomes of children in this client group.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Walsh, Sara.
Date : 2003
Additional Information : Thesis (Psych.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2003.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 14 May 2020 14:56
Last Modified : 14 May 2020 15:04

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