Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Katy Tresco, PhD

Second Advisor

Diane Smallwood, PsyD

Third Advisor

Darla Scott, PhD


The literature on the use of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) suggests that it is a well researched and evidenced-based viable intervention in teaching and improving social skills for children with high functioning autism (HFA). Autism is a prevalent diagnosis for children and adolescents as school settings struggle with how to provide effective interventions and support to address students’ deficits with communication and social skills. Students with HFA may not have difficulty with verbal language skills; however, there is the expectation of being able to navigate social relationships, use social communication and be aware of social cues and rules which are directly related to their diagnosis. This was a pilot study designed to explore the use of CBT in teaching social skills to address deficits in social cognition and social awareness for 4 adolescents with HFA receiving special education services in a high school setting. The duration of the group intervention was six-weeks. Pre and post assessments were conducted using the Social Responsiveness Scale-Second Edition (SRS-2) and the Social Skills Intervention System (SSIS) to obtain measures regarding parents’ and students’ perceptions about social cognition, social awareness and perceived needs regarding social skills. Results were limited by a small sample size and indicated there were no measureable significant differences between parent and student ratings pre and post intervention. There were, however, additional data that noted the feasibility of this intervention in a high school setting for students with HFA.