Fostering knowledge, positive intentions, and attitudes of typical children towards children with autism

Nava R Silton, Fordham University


This study added peer strategies and strengths information to descriptive and explanatory information in order to determine whether or not there was an additive benefit of presenting alternative forms of information in enhancing typical children's knowledge, positive behavioral intentions and cognitive attitudes towards children on the autism spectrum. Fourth, fifth and sixth grade children (N =158) from four Jewish Day Schools in Baltimore, Maryland, Albany, NY and Syracuse, NY were randomly assigned to view a video of a same-sex target peer with autism in one of the following four informational video conditions: Video 1 (presenting descriptive and explanatory information), Video 2 (presenting descriptive, explanatory and peer strategies information), Video 3 (presenting descriptive, explanatory and strengths information) or Video 4 (presenting all four forms of information). The following measures were distributed to the student participants both prior to and following the brief video informational intervention: the Autism Knowledge Sheet to assess autism knowledge, the Shared Activities Questionnaire (SAQ) and Social Support Ratings (SSR) to assess behavioral intentions, and the Adjective Checklist (ACL) and Perceived Responsibility Questionnaire (PRQ) to assess cognitive attitudes. The findings suggest that incorporating peer strategies is especially useful for enhancing typical children's behavioral intentions on the SAQ, while strengths information may be particularly helpful in increasing typical children's cognitive attitudes towards children with autism on the ACL. Both peer strategies and strengths information appeared useful in enhancing the knowledge typical children have of children with autism. Fourth graders and girls showed more positive behavioral intentions to the target on-screen child with autism following the video intervention compared to fifth and sixth graders and boys, respectively. Moreover, participants without previous exposure to autism, gained greater knowledge of autism and showed more positive behavioral intentions following the intervention but showed less favorable cognitive attitudes than participants who had exposure to children with autism prior to the brief intervention. Finally implications for future studies were discussed including the addition of an in-vivo element, the incorporation of further measures and alternative uses of video to enhance sensitivity in typical children towards children with autism.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Silton, Nava R, "Fostering knowledge, positive intentions, and attitudes of typical children towards children with autism" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3377056.