Help interactions between adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder and theirs teachers
At school, learning typically occurs through some form of social interaction between teachers and students. Moreover, social interactions have been reported to be one of the best means to reach understanding of learning processes, school events, and, more generally, students’ social and cultural integration (Mondada, 1995). Furthermore, difficulties in social interactions are considered one of the key characteristics–and one of the two diagnostic criteria–of people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD; American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Within this context, examining social interactions in the classroom between teachers and students with ASD is a way to enhance knowledge on schooling of these students. However, despite legislative changes all over the world (e.g., 2005 law in France), this topic has been only rarely investigated. To fill this gap, we analysed both teacher and student-initiated interactions aimed to help lower secondary students with ASD with their schoolwork, in regular and resource classrooms. Eleven students with ASD and seventeen teachers were filmed in their everyday classroom activities. The results showed that help provided by the teachers was mainly simple (as opposed to specific; Gombert & Roussey, 2007): go and see briefly the students to check their work, repeat explanations, etc. Students with ASD sought help from their teacher during class; some of their requests reflected a self-regulated attitude while others did not. The impact of our results on the schooling of students with ASD will be discussed.