Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Occupational Therapy

Program or Major

Occupational Therapy

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Lou Ann Griswold


People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience deficits in social communication, having difficulty with carrying on conversations, abiding by social norms, and feeling empathy towards others. As social skills are important for successful interactions, these deficiencies can decrease the number of friendships experienced by teenagers with ASD. However, it is also possible that other social barriers are involved, such as stigma, assumed by peers of teenagers with ASD. The influence of deficits in social interaction and stigma was examined through semi-structured interviews and focus groups, comprised of groups with teenagers with ASD and groups with typically developing teenagers. It was found that for typical teenagers, extracurricular activities are the basis for creating and maintaining friendships. Teenagers with ASD are less involved in extracurricular activities and also have more difficulty identifying friends desire more friends. It was also found that typical teenagers exhibit stigma towards peers with ASD. These qualitative results identify areas to target for improvement in social interaction skills of teenagers with ASD, promoting a more successful transition into adulthood.