Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Mark W. Steege PhD

Second Advisor

Rachel Brown PhD

Third Advisor

Richard Guare PhD


Autism Spectrum Disorder, peer-coaching, social interaction, middle school, PsyD


Students with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often face significant social challenges in the middle school setting. For example, as students move beyond elementary school social interactions between peers typically become more complex and less predictable. When social demands begin to exceed the performance levels of students with autism in middle school, students may become isolated and experience increased behavioral and mental health issues. In middle schools, class-wide interventions are often not individualized enough for students with this condition and adult-mediated, office-based, interventions show low generalization to other settings (Reichow & Volkmar, 2010 ). The current study researched peer-coaching, an alternative method that has shown promising effects with elementary school students with significant social deficits. A non-concurrent multiple-baseline across subjects design targeted social interaction of three middle school students diagnosed with ASD. Following baseline, treatment included structured peer-coaching, including careful selection of coaches, initial training for subject and coach, goal-setting, monitoring and feedback for the subject, and contrived reinforcement for social interaction. Subsequent maintenance probes were used to demonstrate effects. Results showed that treatment contributed to increased social interaction in a socialized school setting and inconsistent maintenance.