Special Education M.A.

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Strand, Charles

Second Reader

Karin Farrington;


Individuals on the autism spectrum are faced with many unique challenges in navigating their respective worlds. One of the areas in which individuals across every sector of this spectrum may feel a significant impact is in the area of social skill development. The process of social skill acquisition is somewhat elusive in nature; while there are foundational skills that may be consistent across social scenarios, the ability to recognize, develop, and incorporate these skills into daily life may require an approach to learning that is both non-formulaic and non-linear. Engagement in performing arts activities, specifically those related to theatrical arts, provides access to one such non-linear pathway towards the potential development of social skills. The guiding research question for this study is as follows: How do performing arts activities promote the development of social skills for students on the autism spectrum? In order to enhance the reader’s understanding of this topic relevant to the field of special education, the research will be further guided by the following set of sub-questions: What are performing arts activities? How do they promote the development of social skills; and, more specifically, how can they be adapted for students on the autism spectrum? The goal of this research is to enhance the reader’s knowledge and understanding of theatrical approaches to social skill development for students with ASD, as guided by review of relevant literature and development of a framework for application that may be utilized and modified across group and classroom settings.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis