Peer-mediated social skills training program for young children with high-functioning autism

One of the most prevailing characteristics of children with autism is their deficit in social communication skills. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a peer-mediated social skills training(SST) program combined with video feedback, positive reinforcement and token system in increasing social communication skills in young children with high-functioning autism. Four boys with high-functioning autism, ages 6–7 years, participated in the study. The social skills training, lasting 12 weeks, targeted six communication skills, selected after parent interviews and behavioral observation during a pre-training assessment period. One SST session was conducted each week, each session lasted 90 min and had six structured activities. The training effectiveness was evaluated through direct observation of a structured interaction period, using an observational coding system. Improvement was observed in three out of four children, although individual differences among children were seen for changes in two global scales as well as subscales. These results suggest that the social skills training was effective in improving social communication skills for some children with high-functioning autism. Clinical and research implications and future directions for social skills training as well as this study’s limitations are discussed

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