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Australian Journal of Teacher Education

Australian Journal of Teacher Education

DOI

10.14221/ajte.202v46n1.2

Abstract

Poor social-emotional reciprocity (SER) has been identified as one of the defining traits of autism. It is a key criterion in recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders editions, DSM-IV and DSM-V (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1994, 2013). Yet this difficulty related to socially engaging and interacting with others is poorly understood. The study reported here was a small-scale, qualitative inquiry underpinned by a phenomenological approach in which social-emotional reciprocity (SER) was the phenomenon being studied. Semi-structured interviews with three experienced teachers at an Australian autism-specific school were used to capture their understandings and experiences related to the trait. Interestingly, our teachers found it challenging to discuss SER in isolation from other key autistic traits such as repetitive behaviour and restricted interests. When data were formally explored using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), teacher viewpoints clustered around three interconnected themes: perspectives about SER; relationships and friendships; and impact on teachers. Limitations of this inquiry and recommendations for future research in this area are provided.

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Link to publisher version (DOI)

10.14221/ajte.202v46n1.2