Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Professor Spezio

Reader 2

Professor Ma


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a prevalent neurological and developmental diagnosis prevalent across the globe. ASD is typically looked at and assessed through a deficit lens. An approach from Lawrence Fung, called the Strength Based Model of Neurodiversity (SBMN) moves away from labeling individual’s differences as deficits and instead approaches autism through strength identification of individuals. There is a strong connection between ASD and substance use disorder (SUD) that is often overlooked and notably understudied. The prevalence rates of individuals who have both ASD and SUD are higher than typically assumed and the addiction treatment options that are currently available are not suitable for people with autism. The aim of this study is to explore if an existing addiction treatment- the Outpatient Program- is more effective for individuals with ASD when staffed and run by individuals with ASD, motivated by the SBMN approach than when run by therapists who are not specialized in ASD or the SBMN. The proposed intervention will consist of the same broad therapeutic methods as the Outpatient Program. Participants will go through a 10 week treatment period with measures being completed each month during the three month long baseline period, weekly during treatment, and at one week, one month, three months, 6 months, 9 months and one year during the post-treatment period. The proposed intervention will lead to the participants showing a decrease in reported addiction severity, and reported relapse, and a greater reported program satisfaction and reported social support as compared to the standard treatment.

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