Date of Award

6-2021

Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Neuroscience

First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley

Keywords

Autism, Theater, Improv, Intervention, Social Cognition

Abstract

This thesis proposes to evaluate the viability of an improvisational theater-based intervention in a population of youths with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It first discusses the nature of existing neuroscience literature surrounding ASD, indicating a neurological basis for many of the behaviorally and cognitively observable struggles faced by those with ASD (and, therefore, the potential for a critical period for skill development which may be aided by intervention). Skill correlations between improvisational theater and social cognitive difficulties observed in youth with ASD are also discussed. Following this, an experimental design is proposed for an intervention utilizing a 12-week program focused on improvisational theater. Further discussion utilizing interviews with professionals in both theater and cognitive and behavioral development fields is then conducted regarding necessary considerations for this intervention to be effective, as well as potential applicability on a broad scale.

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