Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2015


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counseling, Psychology, & Special Education


School of Education

Committee Chair

Tammy Hughes

Committee Member

Laura Crothers

Committee Member

Gibbs Kanyongo


Adolescents, Autism, Curriculum, Relationships, Sex Education, Social Skills


The study seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the Healthy Relationships & Autism (HR) curriculum (Sutton & Wesley Spectrum Services, 2013), which is a developmentally sequenced, manualized treatment intended for children and adolescents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The HR curriculum is designed to facilitate healthy interpersonal relationships in children and adolescents with ASD. Specifically, this study investigates the effectiveness of Module 2 of the curriculum, which focuses on teaching basic biological sex education, using well researched techniques designed to reach individuals with ASD. The paper elaborates on the history and development of the need to address these issues, both clinically and in the literature. The study has examined the knowledge acquisition and retention of a sample of adolescents based the results of a pre- and post-intervention test, using a quasi-experimental, repeated measures design was within the study.

Research question 1a investigated whether or not the HR curriculum is effective in the initial knowledge acquisition of basic biological sexual education for children and adolescents with an ASD. A paired samples t-test was used to determine whether or not there was a significant increase in score from pretest to posttest for all participants. Research question 1b investigates whether or not the participants in the HR curriculum achieved mastery of the module content as measured by at least an 85% correct on the initial posttest following the completion of Module 2. Descriptive statistics were reported to describe the results. Research questions 2a and 2b investigate whether or not the HR curriculum is effective for the retention of basic biological sex education knowledge children and adolescents with an ASD of all functioning levels. A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) and individual visual analyses were used to determine the extent of the effect of the HR curriculum on knowledge retention.

Results of the study indicate that the HR curriculum was effective in increasing knowledge acquisition for the participants in the sample. In addition, results indicate overall effectiveness in knowledge retention overtime for adolescents who span the spectrum in terms of skill and functioning abilities.