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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Formative evaluation of group self-determination/self-advocacy training for adolescents with high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome. Myers, Brooke Karleen


Over the past two decades, educators have recognized the importance of teaching students with disabilities to be self-determined, socially and emotionally competent individuals who can advocate for themselves. Unfortunately, the majority of students who require explicit instruction in these areas do not receive it. These three areas of instruction are especially important for students with high functioning autism/Asperger’s syndrome (HFA/AS) because exposure to negative encounters with peers and teachers and lack of guidance during the transition from childhood to adulthood has been linked to many long-term risks. The purpose of this study was to assess the utility of a self-determination/self-advocacy (SD/SA) intervention with six adolescents with HFA/AS, using a pretest multiple-posttest design. The intervention consisted of two components – a training phase and a panel phase. During the training phase, participants were taught self-determination, self-advocacy, and social skills that would prepare them for the panel phase of the intervention. During the panel phase, the group participated in six public panel discussions in which they shared their experiences of what it is like to have HFA/AS. Six dependent variables were measured: 1) self-determination skills; 2) self-concept/self-esteem; 3) friendship development and closeness; 4) participant satisfaction; 5) parent satisfaction; and 6) audience satisfaction. The results offer preliminary evidence of an association between the SD/SA group intervention and positive outcomes in all six areas. The results are discussed with reference to contextual information and previous research. Social validity, collateral benefits, limitations, and future directions are also discussed.

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