Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Autism-Treatment, Art therapy, Parents of autistic children, Parent and child, Interpersonal communication, Communication in families, Parent-interaction therapy, Parent-child interaction therapy, Autism spectrum disorder, Parent interview, Parent-child relationship, Parent-child relations, Parent-child communication, Intervention for autism


This qualitative study examined the parental perceptions of the impact art therapy has on communication patterns and the quality of relationship between a parent and his/her child with autism. The research question that guided this study was, "Can art therapy help strengthen the relationship between a parent and his/her child with autism?" This investigation utilized both convenience and snowball sampling. This study's findings are based on semi-structured interviews, conducted via phone or video chat, with five parents who have children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and whose children have been treated with art therapy. The findings confirmed that art therapy does in fact strengthen the parent-child relationship. All parents spoke to the fact that art therapy helped them communicate effectively with their child and enabled them to learn more about their child. As the communication developed, parents spoke about the positive effect this had on their relationship. The findings also indicated that art therapy helps children with autism strengthen social skills and think more abstractly to grasp difficult to understand concepts. Implications for practice, policy, and research are discussed.




iii, 88 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 66-75)