The benefits of social skills groups for young people with autism spectrum disorder: a pilot study.

Objective:  The researchers in this study planned a pilot social skills group to evaluate outcomes for students with autism ages 6-18 (mean age eleven years old).

Method:  These authors developed a five week pilot social skills group consisting of 31 children and adolescents with autism.  Evaluation of the social skills group consisted of quantitative data, qualitative data, and results of parental focus groups.  Parents and students completed a pre, post, and review questionnaire asking pointed questions about acquisition, maintenance and generalization of targeted social skills.

Results:  Parents completing a post questionnaire survey mentioned that their children were able to gain new friends and were able to demonstrate understanding of friendships following intervention.  Some parents reported that their children lacked the cognitive functioning to understand some of the social skill lessons.   Parents also report that they enjoyed the support that they gained from other parents when meeting with the focus groups.

Conclusion and future recommendations:  The researchers in this study suggested that social skills instruction continue though out the summer months and that students not miss any social skill instruction lessons.  Furthermore, they also suggest that parents be provided with the group curriculum so that it could be reinforced at home.  Finally, it was suggested that a behavior management protocol be developed and implemented for managing problematic behaviors that may arise during the social skills session.