Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jennifer Groscup

Reader 2

Caitlyn Gumaer

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One of the key challenges for people on the autism spectrum is navigating interactions with peers. The purpose of this study is to examine improvisational games as a safe and supported social skills intervention and practice for youth diagnosed with mild to moderate autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Improvisation (improv) creates an environment where one can practice and improve upon listening, teamwork, spontaneity, flexibility, and humor, which are foundational to navigating social interactions and novel situations. There are few studies that use improv as an intervention strategy, especially for children younger than high-school age. Even fewer studies utilize improv for children with moderate ASD. Most improv and ASD-based studies rely on participants self-reporting feelings before, during, and after studies, without empirically assessing behavior.

A multiple-baseline-across-dyad study was performed using a convenience sample of children and adolescents who could produce speech unprompted (n=4). The participants were placed into dyads with peers of the same or close age. After completing baseline probes observing participants’ social skills, participants were taught improv in their dyad pairs once a week over the course of three weeks. Participants were observed interacting with their dyad partners after each improv session. Upon visual inspection, no differences were found between means of baseline, improv intervention, and follow up. This study contributes to the field of ASD research by offering a low-budget intermediary intervention, between clinical intervention and real-world experience, that provides an activity that youth on the spectrum can utilize to gain positive interactions with peers.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.