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This study sought to determine the effectiveness of portrait drawing as an art therapy intervention for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a way to improve communication and social skills as well as increase an understanding of facial expressions and social cues. Participants consisted of two females with ASD from a center for autism at a major university in the southeast United States. The participants took part in six weekly art therapy sessions where the Face Stimulus Assessment (FSA) was administered as a pre and post test. A modified version of the Formal Elements of Art Therapy Scale (FEATS) was used to score the FSA drawings. Additionally, questionnaires based on the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) was used to measure the impact of portrait drawing on the participants' weekly behavior. The sessions incorporated the concept of the 'Interactive Square' (Bragge & Fenner, 2009) as an approach to art therapy with the more structured directive of portrait drawing. The participants were asked to create self-portraits before drawing the researcher's portrait. Next, participants with ASD engaged in portrait drawing with neurotypical peers. Qualitative and quantitative results showed the portrait drawing is an effective technique for adults with ASD. Quantitative and qualitative data are discussed. Artwork is used to illustrate the qualitative data.
Art Therapy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Communication, Interpersonal Relationships, Portrait Drawing, Social Skills
Date of Defense
June 23, 2015.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Art Education in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Marcia Rosal, Professor Directing Thesis; David Gussak, Committee Member; Theresa van Lith, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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