Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Effects of the Relationship Enhancement® program on social skills, empathy and social support for adults with autism spectrum disorders
by Cunningham, Alexandra, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, 2014, 157; 3584894
Abstract (Summary)

An important area of research is emerging for adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) with respect to the challenges they face in their social relationships. Social relationships include those that are romantic in nature such as dating, cohabitation and marriage. Researchers suggest that engaging in a healthy and happy romantic relationship has many physical and mental health benefits that contribute to improved quality of life. This study used a quasi-experimental group design to explore the effects of psychoeducation for adults with ASD. Study participants were assigned to one of two group conditions. One group received the Relationship Enhancement®(RE) program and the other received RE with supplements targeting specific social skills. Social skills, empathy and social support were measured pre and post intervention for participants both within and between groups.

Significant differences were found in the assessment of all participants, in both groups, as measured by t-tests and effect sizes in the variables of social skills (t(37)=-2.28-2.72, p=.028-.029, η2=.122) and empathy (t(37)=-2.31, p=.027, η2=.123). These differences indicate that all participants, in both groups improved in social skills and empathy from pre to post treatment. No significant differences were found among all group participants for the variable of social support. There were no significant differences between groups for the three variables measured (p>0.05). Overall, these results provide support for the use of RE and the targeted supplements to increase social skills and empathy among adults with ASD who are interested in engaging in romantic relationships.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sperry, Len
Commitee: Brady, Michael P., Peluso, Paul R., Sperry, Len
School: Florida Atlantic University
Department: Counselor Education
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, School counseling, Counseling Psychology
Keywords: Adults, Autism spectrum disorders, Empathy, Psychoeducation, Romantic relationships, Social skills
Publication Number: 3584894
ISBN: 9781303978586
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