Graduation Date

5-2017

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department or Program

Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, Ed.D., OTR/L

First Reader

Julia Wilbarger, Ph.D., OTR/L

Second Reader

Susan Schwartz, MPA, OTR/L, FAOTA

Abstract

As the number of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) entering adulthood increases, this population faces limited resources to foster independent living. Therefore, it is crucial to explore innovative interventions that help this population develop the skills necessary to live more independently. This exploratory prospective cohort study evaluated the effectiveness of Autistry Studios, which focuses on improving adaptive behavior skills for adults and adolescents with ASD using project-based therapy. The study used the Brief Adaptive Behavior Scale (BABS), a novel quantitative assessment, to track the development of adaptive behaviors in individuals with ASD within the domains of Executive Functioning (EF), Socialization (SOC), and Self-Regulation (SR). The BABS specifically measures Frequency of adaptive behaviors (FRQ), the Lowest Level of Assistance (LoALow) required, and the Highest Level of Assistance (LoAHigh) required while engaging in project-based therapy. Paired-samples t-tests compared the mean of BABS scores for 11 participants across nine sessions at Autistry Studios. LoALow and LoAHigh Total scores improved significantly from session one to nine. Additional analyses found significant differences in the LoALow and LoAHigh scores in the domains of EF and SOC. Cohen’s d effect sizes for the difference between session one and nine for LoALow and LoAHigh scores were large to very large, suggesting practical improvement in all domains. The results indicate that Autistry’s pre-vocational, project-based therapy program is effective in improving adaptive behavior skills in adults and adolescents with ASD, as measured by the BABS assessment.

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