New Insights into the Correlates and Processes of Competent Peer Relations during Preschool

In typical development, “peers are necessities, not luxuries” (Hartup, 2009, p. 3), both for well-being and for children’s growth of cognitive, linguistic, and social skills. Peer relations (rather than parent-child relations) constitute one of the major known deficits for children with ASD (APA, 2013); yet there is considerable heterogeneity. Peer relationships lie on a continuum ranging from a compelling lack of awareness of others to relatively intact peer relations. The peer relationship difficulties noted in older children with ASD likely begin early, but these processes during preschool are not well understood. In this symposium we provide novel and broad insight into the process with a focus on language (pragmatic); social-cognitive (Theory of mind and joint attention); emotion (emotion knowledge, regulation, temperamental negativity and effortful control) and neuropsychological (executive function) correlates of competent peer relations. Novel data will be presented that is based on multidimensional assessment procedures, combining semi-structured and spontaneous observations of peer relations, experimental tasks, and parent reports. Better understanding of the beginnings of peer relationships should provide insight into later difficulties and importantly pinpoint targets for early intervention for children with ASD.
Saturday, May 17, 2014: 1:30 PM-3:30 PM
Marquis A (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)