Making the connection: randomized controlled trial of social skills at school for children with autism spectrum disorders.

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: 5.67). 11/2011; 53(4):431-9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02493.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT   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.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: School is often considered an ideal setting for child social skills training due to the opportunities it provides for skills teaching, modeling, and practice. The current study evaluated the effectiveness of two variants of the Secret Agent Society social skills program for children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) in a mainstream school context. Sixty-nine students aged 7–12 took part in one of two different 10-week versions of the program (structured versus unstructured) to determine their relative effectiveness. Results suggested that both program variants led to improvements in emotion regulation abilities, social skills, and behavior at school and home, maintained at 6-week follow-up. However, the structured intervention generally led to superior treatment outcomes. These results suggest that improvements in social–emotional functioning can be achieved for students with HFASD through time-limited school-based interventions. Limitations of this study and directions for future research are discussed.
    Psychology in the Schools 02/2015; 52(4). DOI:10.1002/pits.21831 · 0.72 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This pilot study evaluated a novel intervention designed to reduce social anxiety and improve social/vocational skills for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The intervention utilized a shared interest in robotics among participants to facilitate natural social interaction between individuals with ASD and typically developing (TD) peers. Eight individuals with ASD and eight TD peers ages 12-17 participated in a weeklong robotics camp, during which they learned robotic facts, actively programmed an interactive robot, and learned "career" skills. The ASD group showed a significant decrease in social anxiety and both groups showed an increase in robotics knowledge, although neither group showed a significant increase in social skills. These initial findings suggest that this approach is promising and warrants further study.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 06/2014; DOI:10.1007/s10803-014-2153-3 · 3.34 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Individuals with autism spectrum disorders often exhibit difficulties with reciprocal social conversation, engaging in limited verbal exchanges, even when language structures are intact. This study employed a multiple baseline design to examine the effectiveness of a self-management intervention targeting (1) on-topic responsiveness to a conversational partner; (2) expansion of the conversational topic; and (3) on-topic question asking. Results demonstrated improved reciprocal social conversation through elaborated responses and on-topic question asking, which generalized and maintained. Social validity measures by naïve observers indicated that the intervention led to meaningful improvements during conversation, including interest, naturalness, and desirability as a conversational partner.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 10/2013; 44(5). DOI:10.1007/s10803-013-1956-y · 3.06 Impact Factor