Comparative effectiveness of an individualized goal-directed approach and nongoal-directed approach for social outcomes in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder


  • M. Elizabeth Kemeny, PhD, CTRS
  • Deborah Hutchins, EdD, FDRT, CTRS
  • Courtney Gramlich, CTRS
  • Shannon Russell, CTRS
  • Rachel Kerr, CTRS



autism spectrum disorders, adolescent, social skills, self-efficacy for physical activity, recreational therapy


A paucity of research exists with regard to the comparative benefits of individualized goal-directed recreational therapy process and a naturalistic peer-mediated approach for social skill outcomes for youth with autism spectrum disorders. Delivered in four sessions with the same type of recreational modalities with peer mentors, one group (n = 7) received an individualized goal-directed recreational therapy program while the other (n = 7) received a social group program. Measures included parent report of social skills, self-report of self-efficacy for physical activity, and real-time observation of discrete social skills. Based on the outcomes, individualized goal-directed recreational therapy using peer mentors appears to be more effective in targeting social skills and self-efficacy for physical activity than a nonindividualized naturalistic program. Recreational therapy may impact outcomes through more intentional targeting of individual goals to aid social competence and self-efficacy for physical activity.

Author Biographies

M. Elizabeth Kemeny, PhD, CTRS

Parks, Conservation, and Recreational Therapy Department, Slippery Rock University, Recreational Therapy Program, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

Deborah Hutchins, EdD, FDRT, CTRS

Parks, Conservation, and Recreational Therapy Department, Slippery Rock University, Recreational Therapy Program, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

Courtney Gramlich, CTRS

Storm Harbor Equestrian Center, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

Shannon Russell, CTRS

Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

Rachel Kerr, CTRS

Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania


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How to Cite

Kemeny, PhD, CTRS, M. E., Hutchins, EdD, FDRT, CTRS, D., Gramlich, CTRS, C., Russell, CTRS, S., & Kerr, CTRS, R. (2017). Comparative effectiveness of an individualized goal-directed approach and nongoal-directed approach for social outcomes in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 16(3), 17–28.




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