Making the connection: Randomized controlled trial of social skills at school for children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 431-439

Center for Autism Research and Treatment, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.46). 11/2011; 53(4):431-9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02493.x
Source: PubMed


  This study compared two interventions for improving the social skills of high functioning children with autism spectrum disorders in general education classrooms. One intervention involved a peer-mediated approach (PEER) and the other involved a child-assisted approach (CHILD).
  The two interventions were crossed in a 2 × 2 factorial design yielding control, PEER, CHILD, and both PEER and CHILD conditions. Sixty children participated from 56 classrooms in 30 schools. Interventions involved 12 sessions over 6 weeks, with a 3-month follow-up. Outcome measures included self, peer and teacher reports of social skills and independent weekly observations of children on their school playground over the course of the intervention.
  Significant improvements were found in social network salience, number of friendship nominations, teacher report of social skills in the classroom, and decreased isolation on the playground for children who received PEER interventions. Changes obtained at the end of the treatment persisted to the 3-month follow-up.
  These data suggest that significant improvements can be made in peer social connections for children with autism spectrum disorders in general education classrooms with a brief intervention, and that these gains persist over time.

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Available from: Jill J Locke, Jun 14, 2014
    • "A primary objective of social interventions is to help children learn to interact more competently with peers in natural settings (DiSalvo and Oswald 2002); thus, the inclusion of trained peers in treatment is logical, beneficial, and economical (Barry et al. 2003; Egel et al. 1981; Lang et al. 2011; Odom and Strain 1984). Peer-mediation enhances generalization of newly learned skills (Kamps et al. 1992) and increases peer acceptance (Kasari et al. 2012). Peers can be trained to not simply be a social partner but also an intentional model of (Prendeville et al. 2006) and reinforcement for appropriate social behavior (McConnell 2002; Banda et al. 2010). "
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    • "Coding social network centrality. Social network centrality refers to the prominence of each individual in the overall classroom social structure (Cairns and Cairns, 1994; Kasari et al., 2012). A series of social network analyses were conducted to obtain each student's social network centrality score following the procedures outlined by Cairns and Cairns (1994). "
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    • "Treatment effects for the child intervention were smaller and more temporary. Collectively, Kasari et al.'s (2012) results suggest that brief schoolbased interventions can improve the social skills and inclusion of students with HFASD, although conclusions regarding program feasibility and effectiveness are restricted by the delivery of the interventions by research staff (as opposed to school personnel), and the researchers' failure to evaluate whether treatment gains generalized beyond the school environment. "
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