Both developmental, individual-differences, relationship-based (DIR®) and creative arts therapy (CAT) intervention methods have demonstrated positive effects for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, they have not been evaluated in combination. The study evaluated whether a DIR®-based CAT program met its stated goals to stimulate individualized social-emotional growth for children with ASD. A summative, longitudinal program evaluation research design was used to examine the program's fidelity and outcomes. The evaluation included assessments for pre- and post-test quantitative standardized measures for data collection and analysis. The study also collected data from treatment logs to document the fidelity to the treatment model. The study was conducted in a non-profit, parent-founded private day school in a large city on the East Coast of the United States. Twenty one students (age 5–21 years old) participated in a comprehensive DIR®-based CAT program compromising weekly individual and group-based dance, music, and art therapy sessions across six months. The study found moderate evidence supporting the proposition that children who participated in a DIR®-based creative arts therapy program experienced increased and improved social/emotional skills. Implications of this program evaluation for future research and therapeutic service for individuals with ASD will be discussed.
- Creative arts therapies
- Developmental individual-differences relationship based