Date of Conferral
A lack of knowledge about individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can create stereotypes, which serve as barriers to interaction. Television is a component in the development of social attitudes in teenagers. Using social learning theory as a framework, the purpose of this quantitative 2-group, posttest only, experimental design was to determine whether observational learning could be effective in generating positive teen attitudes toward peers with ASD. Senior high school students (N = 130) completed the Attitude Toward Disabled Persons (ATDP) Survey to determine whether observing a video clip can positively affect the attitudes of teens about their peers with ASD. A t test for independent sample groups was used to compare mean scores on the ATDP. According to study findings, 18-year-old students who watched a video clip of a panel of teens with ASD had more positive attitude scores (M = 74.91, SD = 8.4) than did the 18-year-old students who watched an innocuous video clip (M = 48.57, SD = 9.1), t (128) = 17.14, p < .0001. This finding was in alignment with the research on the impact of media on teen attitudes. The media representation of persons with disabilities may facilitate social change by helping to reduce negative stereotypes and to promote positive attitudes about person with specific disabilities. Positive attitudes toward teens with ASD can lead to positive social interactions between teens with and without ASD. In addition, this research may produce social change by fostering social experiences and opportunities for teens with ASD to learn social behaviors and social language by modeling their typical peers.