Kimberly Murza

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In 2014 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that about 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2014). Research about the client-clinician relationship, or therapeutic alliance, with individuals with ASD and their speech-language pathologist (SLP) is lacking due to few studies explore how this relationship plays a role in therapeutic outcomes. Literature review reflects that therapeutic alliance is an important component for the outcome of therapy for both short and long term goals. Additionally, research suggests therapeutic alliance may take more time to form for clients with ASD. The therapeutic relationship tends to be more volatile in this population but is a vital step for therapy success (Strunz et al., 2017). This qualitative study presents a phenomenological approach for analyzing the perceptions of two adults with ASD through open-ended interviews. Data were analyzed to determine how these participants perceived their relationship with their therapist. Four overarching research questions were posed to determine how the participants viewed the roles of the client versus the clinician and what factors facilitate an effective therapy session. Findings indicated that that the two individuals viewed their role as needing to be active in nature and that their SLP should have certain traits and play a greater role for overall therapy success. Specifically, the participants sought the following traits: kindness, patience, and an accommodating nature to the therapy style. Further, the participants felt the role of the therapist should be to build a community and to teach applicable skills. This information could be useful to SLPs as they work to form relationships with their clients who have ASD, and as the SLP develops therapy plans.

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