Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Occupational Therapy

Program or Major

Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Lou Ann Griswold


Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) affect one in 68 children in the United States and are characterized by deficits in social interaction. Decreased social interaction skills limit youth with ASDs’ ability to obtain and maintain a job. Acquisition of needed social interaction skills must occur during high school years as part of youths’ transition program. The Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative study was to consider ways to facilitate social interaction to influence the transition to employment. The specific aims of the study were to explore strategies currently used to facilitate social skills, identify social skills currently targeted, and identify other supports needed to enhance youths’ social interaction skills. This study contributes data from the perspective s of parents, special education teachers, teachers, vocational transition counselors, and paraprofessionals. Through a phenomenological approach and data analysis, my data yielded four main themes. Adult supports have a common vision for the youth with ASDs’ transition, and use attempted strategies of cueing, matching the person and the context, and reflecting. However, there are definitely still deficits of social interaction that affect employment. Therefore, additional needed interventions of increasing supports and training and providing natural contexts for the youth were suggested. Interestingly, specific social interaction skills targeted could not be identified by the adult supports. This research provides the information needed for occupational therapists to create a more effective transition plan, so that youth with ASD can have meaning and success as they move into adulthood and seek employment.