A Pilot Study Examining the Feasibility and Preliminary Efficacy of Problem Solving Therapy in College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Virginia Tech

College students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), though academically capable, can have serious difficulty adapting to the college environment. There is a growing need for the identification and development of efficacious interventions and supports for these young adults. The present study sought to address this need by adapting and piloting a group-based cognitive-behavioral intervention program, Problem-Solving Skills: 101 (PSS:101), to promote problem solving ability in college students with ASD. Primary aims of the study were to adapt a well-established problem solving treatment for college students with ASD into a treatment manual, and to collect data on the feasibility of PSS:101. An exploratory aim was to collect preliminary data on the short-term efficacy of this intervention. Five students with ASD from a public, technology and engineering focused university participated in this nine-week, group-based program. Therapists met all treatment integrity objectives across sessions. Four of the five participants completed at least 8 of the 9 sessions and assigned between-session assignments were generally completed (83% completion rate), indicating a high level of treatment adherence. Independent evaluators' ratings of participant engagement, therapeutic relationship, and group process were relatively high. Preliminary efficacy data suggested mixed results across participants. Further evaluation of the program appears warranted.

feasibility, treatment development, CBT