Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Terms of Use

© 2012 Gabriela E. Moats. All rights reserved. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department, Psychology Department

First Advisor

K. Ann Renninger

Second Advisor

Jane Gillham


The literature on youth with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and high-functioning autism (HFA) suggests that they have limitations in how they see themselves, but that many are aware of how they are different from the norm. This has been found to contribute to the development of low self-esteem and high rates of depression and anxiety that are so prevalent in this population. Little research has been dedicated to examining ways in which youth with HFA and AS can be encouraged to feel more positively about themselves. Exposure to peers with similar diagnoses has been found to be helpful in other special populations, but has not been thoroughly studied in youth with HFA/AS. The present study measured youth’s perceptions of themselves before attending a summer camp exclusively for youth with social difficulties, immediately after attending the camp, and several months later. Mirroring the findings of previous studies, these campers displayed awareness of their social difficulties, and were able to reflect on what makes them feel proud. This contrasts the belief that youth in this population are unable to engage in self-reflection. Results from standardized measures did not reveal changes in youth’s perceptions of themselves after being at camp. However participants’ responses to open-ended questions suggested that campers experienced profound changes in their perceptions of their social competence, self-confidence, selfreliance, and sense of belonging. These findings have implications on effective interventions for this population, as well as on accurate methods of assessment of change in this group.