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Hess, Robyn s.

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Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder often experience difficulties interacting with peers and expressing their emotions, characteristics that may complicate their grief experiences. This qualitative study was designed to explore the experiences of four adolescents with ASD who participated in grief therapy facilitated through the use of videogames. Each participant engaged in 10 weekly grief counseling sessions. Participants and caregivers were interviewed prior to counseling, mid-way (participants only), and after completion of therapy. All counseling and interview sessions were video- or audio-recorded, and transcripts were created from these recordings. All data were analyzed and coded through the lens of the different periods of grief according to Lamb’s (1988) process theory. These codes were analyzed for themes, and a cross-case analysis was completed. Results from this study indicated that adolescents with ASD experience grief in a manner similar to their neurotypical peers, though on a longer timeline. The use of videogames seemed to facilitate participants’ exploration of grief and death through the use of different characters in the game. The incorporation of videogames into more traditional therapy may assist adolescents with ASD to process their emotions associated with bereavement. Although these results are promising, additional research is needed to establish whether the use of videogames is a beneficial technique for use with adolescents who are experiencing grief over the death of loved one.


Autism, Grief, Videogames


246 pages

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