Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Devlin, Sandra

Committee Member

Hopper, Peggy F.

Committee Member

Coffey, Kenneth

Committee Member

West, Robert

Committee Member

Xu, Jianzhong

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Special Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disability characterized by social communication deficits, repetitive and restrictive behaviors, and language and communication deficits. Its prevalence among the general population has led to increased efforts to intervene effectively during childhood and adolescence. Prior quantitative and qualitative research suggests that camps are an effective setting to deliver social skills intervention for children with ASD; however, there are gaps in research that need to be addressed, such as a lack of empirical qualitative evidence, difficulty with language and communication issues inherent to ASD, and limited reliable studies involving the photovoice methodologies. The research questions designed to address such gaps asked what a camp for adolescents with ASD might mean to participants and whether such a camp might produce a change in belonging, self-confidence, and independence among its campers. As such, this study employed the photovoice qualitative methodology to interview 8 adolescent males about their experiences at Camp Jigsaw, a social skills camp in the southeastern United States of America. Results of phenomenological qualitative analysis suggest that the most dominant themes expressed by campers were Positive Emotions, Socialization, Unique Experiences, Collective Identity, and Self-Improvement. The interplay and linkages between these themes revealed that the security of belonging with a group of like-minded peers resulted in increased independent experiences and self-confidence among participants of Camp Jigsaw.