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Group-based social skills interventions for adolescents with higher-functioning autism spectrum disorder: a review and looking to the future

Authors McMahon C, Lerner M, Britton N

Received 24 August 2012

Accepted for publication 5 November 2012

Published 22 January 2013 Volume 2013:4 Pages 23—38


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

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Camilla M McMahon,1 Matthew D Lerner,2,3 Noah Britton4

1Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN, USA; 2Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA; 3Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA; 4Behavorial Sciences Department, Bunker Hill Community College, Charleston, MA, USA

Abstract: In this paper, we synthesize the current literature on group-based social skills interventions (GSSIs) for adolescents (ages 10–20 years) with higher-functioning autism spectrum disorder and identify key concepts that should be addressed in future research on GSSIs. We consider the research participants, the intervention, the assessment of the intervention, and the research methodology and results to be integral and interconnected components of the GSSI literature, and we review each of these components respectively. Participant characteristics (eg, age, IQ, sex) and intervention characteristics (eg, targeted social skills, teaching strategies, duration and intensity) vary considerably across GSSIs; future research should evaluate whether participant and intervention characteristics mediate/moderate intervention efficacy. Multiple assessments (eg, parent-report, child-report, social cognitive assessments) are used to evaluate the efficacy of GSSIs; future research should be aware of the limitations of current measurement approaches and employ more accurate, sensitive, and comprehensive measurement approaches. Results of GSSIs are largely inconclusive, with few consistent findings across studies (eg, high parent and child satisfaction with the intervention); future research should employ more rigorous methodological standards for evaluating efficacy. A better understanding of these components in the current GSSI literature and a more sophisticated and rigorous analysis of these components in future research will lend clarity to key questions regarding the efficacy of GSSIs for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Keywords: intervention, social skills, autism, group, review, methodology

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