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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    ABSTRACT: The efficacy of a peer-mediated, theatre-based intervention on social competence in participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was tested. Thirty 8-to-14 year-olds with ASD were randomly assigned to the treatment (n = 17) or a wait-list control (n = 13) group. Immediately after treatment, group effects were seen on social ability, (d = .77), communication symptoms (d = -.86), group play with toys in the company of peers (d = .77), immediate memory of faces as measured by neuropsychological (d = .75) and ERP methods (d = .93), delayed memory for faces (d = .98), and theory of mind (d = .99). At the 2 month follow-up period, group effects were detected on communication symptoms (d = .82). The results of this pilot clinical trial provide initial support for the efficacy of the theatre-based intervention.
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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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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the social behavior of children with and without autism spectrum disorder during recess. This study documented the naturally occurring recess engagement and peer interaction behaviors of children with and without autism spectrum disorder in inclusive school settings. Participants included 51 children with autism spectrum disorder and 51 classmates without autism spectrum disorder who served as peer models matched on gender, classroom, grade, age, and ethnicity. Using a timed-interval behavior-coding system, children with autism spectrum disorder spent approximately 30% of their recess time engaged in solitary activities, whereas their classmates only spent approximately 9% of recess unengaged. In addition, children with autism spectrum disorder spent about 40% of the recess period jointly engaged with peers in a reciprocal activity, conversation, or game as compared to 70% for matched classmates. These findings provide a context for which to interpret intervention outcomes and gains for children with autism spectrum disorder in inclusive settings. © The Author(s) 2015.
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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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    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.
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