Thesis Title

Art Therapy and Autism: Group and Individual Art Therapy to Enhance Social Skills in Children with ASD

Graduation Date

Spring 2010

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC

First Reader

Laury Rappaport, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Deborah A. Sharpe, MA, ATR-BC


Children with autism (also called Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD) tend to have significant deficits in communication and joint attention skills, thus inhibiting their overall social performance. By targeting these social skills deficits, children with ASD will develop their capacity for spontaneous reciprocal interaction. The purpose of this grant proposal is to request funding that will augment existing services at Milestones, an agency dedicated to doing early intervention work with children on the autistic spectrum, by providing art therapy groups supplemented by individual art therapy sessions for these children in order to enhance their social skills. The groups will focus on themes of connection, communication, and cooperation, and will encourage participants to interact with each other both verbally and non-verbally. Individual sessions will complement the group work by offering additional opportunities for engaging in art activities that support “joint attention.”