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Despite the presence and popularity of dating cultures in the media, the occupation of dating is highly complex and still prematurely understood through research. Recent research has found autistic adults to experience increased variety in their gender and sexual identity as well as challenges to achieving dating goals. A doctoral capstone project was completed to explore current approaches to resources and programs to address their dating needs, as well as understand their experiences in more depth. A needs assessment was carried out through an occupational therapist working with autistic adults in a day program. The need’s assessment revealed that autistic adults would benefit from occupation-based interventions where they are able to safely investigate and discuss their dating-related needs and goals and receive guidance on social and cultural subtleties and the unspoken rules of dating. Based on literature findings and the needs assessment results, a program manuscript was developed to serve as a foundational protocol for an occupational therapist to facilitate dating-related, self-exploration, and skill development. The program includes 11 modules that explore various aspects related to the occupation of dating. A website for the private and personal use of occupational therapy-related activities was additionally created as a resource for autistic adults to utilize OT-based resources independently.

Publication Date

Fall 12-9-2021


University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Social Interaction, Autistic Disorder, Adult, Occupational Therapy, Needs Assessment


Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Fall 2021 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, December 9-10, 2021.

An Exploration of Dating as an Occupation for Autistic Adults