All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Sylvie Mrug

Advisory Committee Members

Kirstin J Bailey

John B Hodgens

Snehal Khatri

Cryshelle S Patterson

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate a number of core social and behavioral deficits that affect their ability to interact effectively with peers. Despite recommendations to improve intervention programs for children with high-functioning ASD, few empirical studies have evaluated the effectiveness of comprehensive, skills building behavioral interventions. Previous clinical case studies documented that a behavioral summer treatment program (STP) produced substantial changes in behavior and social functioning for several children with high-functioning ASD. While the STP may be a promising efficacious intervention for these children, a quantitative examination is needed to further examine the effectiveness of the STP for children with high-functioning ASD. The current project examined the behavioral changes in specific domains of social and behavioral functioning over the course of the STP. Boys (N=20, M=9.2) diagnosed with high-functioning ASD that participated in the six-week STP across seven years were included in this study. Each summer, extensive behavioral data were collected as part of the routine clinical implementation of the program. Polynomial contrasts within repeated measures ANOVA indicated significant improvements over time for several behavior categories, including following activity rules, contributing to a group discussion, paying attention, complaining/whining, and initiating conversations with peers. Additionally, single-case examination demonstrated that the STP can effectively target specific areas of functional impairment associated with ASD, including managing anger and violating others' personal space. These data represent a novel step towards understanding the effectiveness of the STP for specific aspects of social and behavioral functioning in children with high-functioning ASD.

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