Date of Award

5-1-2018

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Rehfeldt, Ruth Anne

Abstract

A deficit in social skills is a common issue among individuals with autism. Adaptive social skills are often required for individuals with autism to live a more autonomous lifestyle. One area in which adaptive social skills are necessary is with the job interviewing process. Past research has shown success in behavior skills training (Kelly, Wildman, & Berler, 1980) and modeling (Hall, Sheldon-Widgen, & Sherman, 1980) to improve these skills among individuals with autism. However, there is a limitation to these procedures because they do not address the language barrier that a lot of individuals with autism possess. More research is needed to determine effective procedures for increasing flexibility in verbal and nonverbal behaviors in individuals with autism during a job interview. The current study used a nonconcurrent multiple baseline procedure to measure the responses of three adults with autism during a mock job interview before and after the implementation of mindfulness and defusion activities. A BST intervention was implemented if criterion of the skill was not reached with the ACT intervention. All three participants achieved criterion of the skill following the ACT and BST interventions. Additionally, physiological changes were observed following the ACT intervention in two participants. The results provide evidence for the use of ACT for targeting communication-based skills. Future studies should focus on the use of an ACT intervention to increase flexible behaviors in the presence of aversive stimulation.

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