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Comparative effectiveness of an individualized goal-directed approach and nongoal-directed approach for social outcomes in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder

M. Elizabeth Kemeny, PhD, CTRS, Deborah Hutchins, EdD, FDRT, CTRS, Courtney Gramlich, CTRS, Shannon Russell, CTRS, Rachel Kerr, CTRS


A paucity of research exists with regard to the comparative benefits of individualized goal-directed recreational therapy process and a naturalistic peer-mediated approach for social skill outcomes for youth with autism spectrum disorders. Delivered in four sessions with the same type of recreational modalities with peer mentors, one group (n = 7) received an individualized goal-directed recreational therapy program while the other (n = 7) received a social group program. Measures included parent report of social skills, self-report of self-efficacy for physical activity, and real-time observation of discrete social skills. Based on the outcomes, individualized goal-directed recreational therapy using peer mentors appears to be more effective in targeting social skills and self-efficacy for physical activity than a nonindividualized naturalistic program. Recreational therapy may impact outcomes through more intentional targeting of individual goals to aid social competence and self-efficacy for physical activity.


autism spectrum disorders, adolescent, social skills, self-efficacy for physical activity, recreational therapy

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