Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are pervasive developmental disorders characterized by several core deficits including social skills impairments and difficulty processing social information. Little is known about the role of contributing factors adjustment in this population. The first aim of this study was to evaluate two meditational models of youth with ASD in which social impairment and friendship quality mediated the relation between various domains of executive functions (EF) and adjustment, as well as a full developmental model in which EF contributed to compromised social skills which influenced friendship quality leading to increased adjustment difficulties in this population. The second aim of the study was to investigate organized activity involvement as a potential buffer against poorer adjustment. Participants included 127 high functioning ASD adolescents and a parent. Results indicated that all social impairment models significantly mediated the relations between EF and adjustment, while friendship quality only partially mediated the relation between emotional control and loneliness. Four developmental models were a good fit for the data, indicating that EF, social impairment, and friendship quality impacted adjustment. Furthermore, increased organized activity involvement was associated with better adjustment. These results will help inform treatments for adjustment in ASD youth. As research continues to identify factors influencing adjustment, more comprehensive treatments can be adopted that target the development of skills that will lead to better adjustment.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.