Spring 2015

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Teacher Education


This research project examines the efficacy of teaching specific vocational gardening skills that are tied directly to real world job skills for an adolescent with severe autism. This study sought to determine if visual activity schedules paired with prompting increases independent achievement of gardening skills identified as essential to successful performance at a garden center job site for an adolescent with severe autism. Current research shows that the majority of adults with autism spectrum disorder are either unemployed or underemployed (Gerhardt & Lainer, 2011); however, when individuals with ASD participated in supported employment their quality of life improved, reduced their autistic symptoms, and increased cognitive functioning (Taylor et al. 2012). This quantitative research design looked closely at one student working on three specific vocational gardening activities that were directly related to employable skills at a garden center. The activities were broken down into multiple steps through a visual activity schedule paired with prompting hierarchies. The results exhibited an increase in independence of gardening activities of a simulated garden center on school grounds, for an adolescent with severe ASD, thus suggesting the use of visual supports paired with prompting was highly effective in independent performance for all three gardening skills.


Thesis (M.A.) Teacher Education Department