Date of Award


Document Status

Open Access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Occupational Therapy (M.S.)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Shaunna Kelder


Objective: The objective of this phenomenological study was to identify how an occupational therapy developed Creative Movement Dance Class (CMDC) addresses social interaction skills in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Method: Interviews were conducted with a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA), Occupational Therapist (OT), ballet instructor, student intern, teacher, and an aide that were directly involved with the CMDC.

Results: Three themes were identified. The first theme, structure of the class, consisted of eight sub-themes including opportunity to practice, fulfilling sensory needs, the Just Right Challenge, classroom support, classroom expectations, interprofessional collaboration, themes, and format of the class. The second theme, engagement techniques, consisted of five sub-themes including peer modeling, turn taking, use of props, making choices, and coping skills. The third theme, teaching techniques, consisted of four sub-themes including instructors body positioning, verbal/physical/visual cues, instructor modeling, and communication (sentence strips, Personal Exchange Communication System [PECS], and core vocabulary).

Conclusion: An occupational therapy developed CMDC addresses social interaction skills through the structure of the class, engagement techniques, and teaching techniques. Many of the techniques identified are supported in the literature for ASD and creative movement. Several novel techniques were found that may prove to be effective in addressing social interaction skills for adolescents with ASD through a CMDC.