Because youngsters on the spectrum suffer from communication and social impairments, it hinders their ability to engage and form friendships with their peers. Oftentimes children with autism are ostracized or become targets of bullies who are either unaware or simply do not understand them because of their disorder.
As a result, children with ASD can become anxious which is reflected in elevated cortisol levels in their systems. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can be evaluated by testing one’s saliva. According to Corbett, using scientific means of ascertaining stress and anxiety levels of study participants is useful.
“We wouldn’t be able to tell from a lot of kids how stressed they really are when they are interacting with others.”
However, she asserts that children on the spectrum can and do respond well when their peers engage them by doing something as simple as inviting them to play. Hence, in addition to garnering information, the study highlights the importance of inclusion and providing children with ASD with the opportunity to learn, develop and have fun by interacting socially with others.
The original article on the abc KSAT 12 news website can be read here