Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

First Advisor

George McCloskey, Ph.D., Chairperson

Second Advisor

Rosemary Mennuti, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Ray Christner, Psy.D.


Social skill deficits are hallmark characteristics noted in children with autism. The behavioral indicators of autism, including language impairments, display of preservative behaviors, and restricted interests contribute to the social difficulties experienced by children with autism. The current paper provides a review of the relevant literature on theoretical contributions to social skill deficits in autism. A review of the use of cognitive behavioral therapy and social skill training programs and curriculums that have been shown to be efficacious at targeting deficits and improving social skills is provided, with a focus on treating children with high functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger’s Disorder (AD). Using a multiple case study design, the research attempts to answer the question: What is the effectiveness of the Superflex…A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum (Madrigal & Winners, 2008) with a small group of middle school students. Based on the results, a significant improvement was seen in participant prosocial behaviors, and a reduction in inappropriate behaviors overall. Data collected with standardized rating scales were not consistent with behavioral observation data. Individual participant progress is discussed in detail. Implications for practice as well as limitations are discussed.