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Improving Daily Living Skills in College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Using a Peer-Mediated Daily Living Checklist Intervention


Research suggests individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulties with daily living skills that affect adaptive behavior, which are a major barrier to success in higher education settings. Adaptive behavior has been shown to be the single-strongest predictor of positive outcomes for individuals with ASD, yet few interventions target the improvement of daily living skills within this population, with even fewer targeting college students. Since interventions that integrate motivational and peer-mediated components have improved social communication in adults with ASD, it is possible that incorporating these methods into a daily living checklist, a type of self-management intervention, may lead to improvements in daily living skills for this population as well. The purpose of this study was to assess whether the use of peer-mediated motivational components would increase (1) the percentage of targeted daily living tasks completed per week. In addition, data was collected to systematically examine if this intervention would (2) increase measures of adaptive behavior skill; (3) decrease symptoms of depression; (4) decrease symptoms of anxiety; (5) increase measures of overall quality of life,. and (6) improve quarterly academic grade reports. Three college students with ASD between the ages of 18 and 20 participated. A multiple baseline across participants design was used, where a baseline condition with a self-management daily living checklist without peer-mediation was compared to a peer-mediated intervention condition with check-ins by a peer mentor to complete the daily living checklist. Follow up data were collected for two participants four weeks after the completion of the intervention. (1) All participants increased the percentage of targeted daily living skill tasks completed each week with large effect sizes, with effects maintained at follow-up for two participants. (2) All participants demonstrated some improvement on subdomains of the Daily Living Skill domain on the VABS-III, and 2 participants improved their overall Adaptive Behavior Composite score on the VABS-III. (3) All participants decreased their total score on the BDI-II. (4) Two participants decreased their total score on the BAI. Additionally, (5) all participants maintained good ratings of quality of life as measured by the QLAA. Finally (6), 2 participants demonstrated maintenance of good academic standing following completion of the intervention. Results are discussed in regards to assisting college students with ASD with improving their daily living skills. Additionally, implications of findings and future directions related to the examination of collateral areas relating to mental health, quality of life, and academic performance are explored. Further research would be helpful to continue to develop and examine interventions to assist college students with ASD to live independently and successfully.

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