There are several reasons for this lack of information. While the methodology has existed for some time (ex. Cairns, 1979; Cairns & Cairns, 1994), it is only recently that researchers have begun to include Social Cognitive Mapping (SCM) procedures to investigate students’ peer affiliations, rather than using social acceptance as the sole means of measurement. With this tool, responses asked about peer groups are aggregated across participants to generate a composite social map of the class social structure. The SCM extends beyond sociometric status by identifying all peer groups in the class, making it possible to determine if a student is in a group, and with whom he or she affiliates.
Minimal research also exists that assesses the peer relations of students with ASD and their perceptions of friendships. While it has been shown that some students with ASD desire and seek friendships, little is known about whether they view themselves as part of a social network in the inclusive setting or whether they are able to accurately identify existing social groups. The importance of understanding these perceptions is vital in helping to construct social competence with peers and in developing self-worth. Awareness of one’s self and the relation of others hold strong implications for social skill interventions. Therefore, if students with ASD do not perceive relationships accurately, then moderating self-behavior in accordance with classroom norms becomes much more difficult.
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