Social Skills Interventions for Children with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism: A Review and Recommendations

Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State Hershey College of Medicine, H073, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.34). 03/2008; 38(2):353-61. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-007-0402-4
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This paper reviews the literature examining social skills training (SST) programs for youth with AS/HFA, with an emphasis on critically evaluating efficacy and highlighting areas of future research. The review highlights the disparity between SST programs described in the extant literature, including lack of a universal definition of social skills, various levels of intensity and duration of treatment, divergent theoretical backgrounds, and variety in services provided in clinic or classroom settings. Overall, it is clear that, despite their widespread clinical use, empirical support for SST programs for children with AS/HFA is minimal at this time. Based on this critical review, a "roadmap" for future research, consistent with recommendations put forth by a leading group of autism researchers, is presented.

Download full-text


Available from: Deborah C Beidel, Jul 07, 2015
  • Source
    • "concluded few studies include group designs or large enough sample sizes to conduct meaningful data analysis (Cappadocia and Weiss 2011; Rao et al. 2008). The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to determine the efficacy of a comprehensive peer network intervention that combines peer training and direct instruction, on the social communication, language performance, adaptive communication skills and teacher ratings of young children with moderate to high functioning ASD. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this randomized control group study was to examine the effects of a peer network intervention that included peer mediation and direct instruction for Kindergarten and First-grade children with autism spectrum disorders. Trained school staff members provided direct instruction for 56 children in the intervention group, and 39 children participated in a comparison group. Results showed children in the intervention group displayed significantly more initiations to peers than did the comparison group during non-treatment social probes and generalization probes. Treatment session data showed significant growth for total communications over baseline levels. Children in treatment also showed more growth in language and adaptive communication. Finally, teachers' ratings of prosocial skills revealed significantly greater improvements for the intervention group.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 12/2014; 45(6). DOI:10.1007/s10803-014-2340-2 · 3.34 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Research has consistently demonstrated that these chronic impairments in functioning are not sufficiently remediated by time-limited, outpatient interventions in the community (Pelham and Fabiano 2001; Smith-Myles and Simpson 2002). Furthermore, intervention guidelines for children with HFASD suggest that in order to maximize generalization and skill maintenance, specific problem behaviors are best targeted in varied and naturalistic environments that promote skills building and provide opportunities to practice and receive reinforcement for the newly acquired skills (National Research Council 2001; Rao et al. 2008). Therefore, the skill-building, peer-based, intensive, and naturalistic behavioral summer treatment model developed to ameliorate functional impairments in children with ADHD and other behavioral problems may represent an effective treatment for children with HFASD as well. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study evaluated the effects of a behavioral summer treatment program for children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD). Twenty boys (M = 9.2 years) diagnosed with HFASD participated in the 6-week program across 6 years. Detailed daily behavioral data were collected on a variety of positive and negative social behaviors. Repeated measures ANOVAs of weekly behavior frequencies indicated substantial improvements in a number of behaviors over the 6 weeks of the program, including following activity rules, contributing to a group discussion, paying attention, and less complaining/whining. Overall, results highlight the potential efficacy of treating chronic functional impairments of HFASD and associated problem behaviors in the context of an intensive behavioral summer treatment program.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 12/2014; DOI:10.1007/s10803-014-2241-4 · 3.34 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Traditional social-skill interventions for individuals with AS are based on learning explicit rules to build and foster relationships (Cappadocia and Weiss, 2011). However, such programs lack ecological validity: the patients fail to generalize their new skills to situations outside the treatment setting (Rao et al., 2008; Cappadocia and Weiss, 2011). These limitations may be circumvented by incorporating naturalistic environments and social context to the intervention materials. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Social cognition-the basis of all communicative and otherwise interpersonal relationships-is embedded in specific contextual circumstances which shape intrinsic meanings. This domain is compromised in the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), including Asperger's syndrome (AS) (DSM-V). However, the few available reports of social cognition skills in adults with AS have largely neglected the effects of contextual factors. Moreover, previous studies on this population have also failed to simultaneously (a) assess multiple social cognition domains, (b) examine executive functions, (c) follow strict sample selection criteria, and (d) acknowledge the cognitive heterogeneity typical of the disorder. The study presently reviewed (Baez et al., 2012), addressed all these aspects in order to establish the basis of social cognition deficits in adult AS patients. Specifically, we assessed the performance of AS adults in multiple social cognition tasks with different context-processing requirements. The results suggest that social cognition deficits in AS imply a reduced ability to implicitly encode and integrate contextual cues needed to access social meaning. Nevertheless, the patients' performance was normal when explicit social information was presented or when the situation could be navigated with abstract rules. Here, we review the results of our study and other relevant data, and discuss their implications for the diagnosis and treatment of AS and other neuropsychiatric conditions (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, frontotemporal dementia). Finally, we analyze previous results in the light of a current neurocognitive model of social-context processing.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 09/2014; 8:270. DOI:10.3389/fnins.2014.00270