Date Approved

5-13-2016

Embargo Period

5-16-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. School Psychology

Department

Psychology

College

College of Science & Mathematics

First Advisor

Dihoff, Roberta

Second Advisor

Allen, Terri

Subject(s)

Children with autism spectrum disorders; Students--Economic conditions

Disciplines

Special Education and Teaching

Abstract

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) lack the understanding of appropriate communication and social skills. Considerable research has proven that extracurricular activities boost numerous positive effects academically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Given that participating in extracurricular activities provide such outstanding benefits to overall quality of life, it is important to understand the opportunities presented to youth with ASD. Research suggests that poorer school districts who suffer budget cuts have been forced to reduce funding for extracurricular activities. Furthermore, more affluent school districts are able to seek extracurricular activities through private resources, in addition to their already plentiful selection of programs. This discrepancy puts youth of low-income families at a greater disadvantage.

This study investigated the relationship between the average income of Hunterdon County, Gloucester County, and Cumberland County of New Jersey with the number of extracurricular activities offered to youth with ASD. These counties hold the highest, middle, and lowest average income rates of New Jersey, respectively. The Directors of Special Services of each school district within the three counties (n=64) were contacted in order to collect data regarding program opportunities. Data from the United States Census Bureau was examined to obtain the average income of Hunterdon, Gloucester, and Cumberland Counties.

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