Date of Graduation

Spring 2020


Master of Arts in Writing



Committee Chair

Margaret Weaver


Only one-third of students with autism who are enrolled in American universities go on to graduate (Cox & Williams, 2018; Newman et al., 2011; Wei et al., 2014). These students may be currently underserved by the writing curriculum of postsecondary institutions when it comes to facilitating social and personal development in college and beyond. This thesis begins with the hypothesis that creative writing classes already utilize pedagogical tools that could aid students with autism in strengthening their social skills, particularly through the more structured social environment of the creative writing workshop. This study examined a 200-level short story creative writing class at Missouri State University to test whether a creative writing class and workshop model could measurably help students on the autism spectrum strengthen their social skills. A mixed methods, single-subject design was used with quantitative and qualitative measures to assess changes in the social skills of two students on the autism spectrum. Students on the autism spectrum who participated in the class previously were also interviewed. The study and interviews indicate that creative writing workshops do facilitate increased social skills development. These findings inform pedagogical recommendations for writing teachers who may be teaching college students on the autism spectrum.


autism, adults with autism, college students, creative writing, creative writing workshop, narrative, pedagogy, peer-mediated intervention, short story, social skills

Subject Categories

Creative Writing | Curriculum and Instruction | Disability and Equity in Education | Disability Studies | Higher Education | Rhetoric and Composition


© Rebekkah N. Richner

Open Access