Social Skill Group Interventions for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Social Skill Group Interventions for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders


The research study describes the problem of Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is a disorder characterized by individuals exhibiting some form of persistent deficits with regards to social interaction and social communication. Answering the problem is important since the disorder usually has significant negative impacts on the affected individuals. It causes clinically significant impairment in occupational, social and other vital areas of current functioning. This inhibits people from having a normal life.


The purpose of the study is to review available literature in order to analyze the usefulness of social skills groups with regards to intervention for adolescents with ASD.

Research Methods

The research used secondary research methods in order to obtain the desired information. Several databases including PsycArticles, Education Resources Information Center and PsycINFO were used. At the initial stage, broad keyword categories were used for searching the articles. 50 articles were considered to have met the desired criteria. They were then presented to two independent co-authors in order to evaluate their merit using the inclusion check-list provided. 44 articles out of the 50 presented were deemed favorable for the study. The articles involved used varying designs, but were aimed at investigating a similar study. 63% of the studies took place in a clinic setting; which is usually linked with large research institution. Majority of the studies also took place in United States. Regarding the number of participants in each study, the trend seems to be between 4 and 6. However, not all the studies’ participants fell under this range. The participants also had to have a certain level of IQ; most studies preferred an IQ of around 70.Delivery formats used in the study also varied significantly. There did not exist a standard delivery format. On issues to do with target skills, there also existed variations. Most of the studies targeted global social competence, but there are others that concentrated on specific areas.

Research Findings

Most of the findings have been depicted from individual studies that were being selected on the 44 articles involved. Generalized findings indicated that social skills group interventions go a long way into helping adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder improve in various ways. All of the articles reviewed indicated individuals with ASD can gain treatment for interventions so long as they do not have an intellectual disability. Having better language ability and a higher IQ predicted enhanced response to treatment. An article by Laugeson et al. (2009) indicated that despite a group of 4 to 6 participants being more favorable to researchers, delivering group interventions for a large number of adolescents is possible. Inclusion of peers in the intervention groups has been regarded as a significant factor in helping the adolescents with ASD improve their self-esteem. The studies also show that inclusion of parents in the interventions helps the adolescents suffering from ASD to maintain the skills gained.

Description of Research Findings


The findings have tried to break-down various aspects of social group intervention for adolescents with ASD. However, there are various shortcomings based on the extent to which the information has been provided. A good example is that the findings show that Lerner and Mikami (2012) proved that delivery formats intended to address performance and knowledge deficits had some similarities. Both of the interventions resulted to improvement in reciprocated friendship nominations and social skill, but in different ways. The findings have not tried to elaborate in what ways they were different. Such information would be important for readers and other researchers that would be interested in studying this topic in future.

The presentation of the findings on the other hand, has been done of a favorable manner. Findings have been divided in different section like number of participants, delivery formats, and intervention duration among others. They have to show how various articles involved in the study have showcased these elements. It is clearer for people sourcing information on this topic. They can examine various sections that they are interested in and avoid those that are not of interest. Identifying how the findings were arrived at is made easier. Arguing against a certain finding without having to refute the other findings is also made possible.

Reflective Thoughts

The findings show that studies that involved more than ten weekly sessions were associated with significant treatment gains. This shows that social group interventions should be aimed at running for a substantial amount of time. Interventions that take a short period might work, but are the results desirable? It is more fulfilling when an activity is executed, and the results derived yield significant results. As a result, individuals being involved with the interventions should always ensure that a desirable time frame has been involved. This is more likely to bring better results to the affected individuals.

Under generalization and maintenance of techniques acquired, the roles of the parents seem to be significant. The findings show that parents who are involved in the interventions stand a better chance of ensuring that their children extend the skills gained outside the group. This is a critical finding since the parents spend more time with their children. When they are aware of the skills that the groups are targeting, they are sure of the steps they ought to take. Involvement will also ensure that they have learned the appropriate ways of executing their role.


The evidence shows that group interventions are useful in promoting social skills among adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The findings indicate that inclusion of parents and guardians increases the prospect of the adolescents maintaining the skills gained. This is an implication that the social skills group interventions would be more effective in community and school settings. This is because the adolescents involved spend more of their time in these areas. If the people involved in the group interventions are in close proximity, it would help increase the time of interactions hence the probability of attaining better treatment.

Involving groups of 4 to 6 participants seem to work best in most case studies. This is an indication that studies being conducted should aim at establishing groups involving few participants. It makes it possible to concentrate on the needs of every participant since it is easier to assess them individually. It is good to know that different people tend to respond differently when subjected to similar circumstances.

There are several implications on instructional practice based on the findings. Among them is that the intervention groups should focus on creating an environment that is enabling for adolescents with ASD to gain better and long-lasting results. The interventions should also aim at including peers in these groups in the appropriate proportions. They are people that the adolescents associate with hence it will be paramount in boosting their self-esteem. They will be more accommodating when they see the efforts of their peers in trying to help them improve.

The findings also have an implication on individuals that would be studying this topic in future. They have not shown the effects derived by including either a large or small group of participants. It would be imperative for future researches to show this aspect. It would ensure that intervention groups have adopted the most favorable composition that would work towards attaining the best results.




Laugeson, E., Frankel, F., Mogil, C., & Dillon, A. (2009). Parent-Assisted Social Skills Training   to Improve Friendships in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Autism and        Developmental Disorders,39(4), 596-606.

Lerner, M., & Mikami, A. (2012). A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial of Two Social        Skills Interventions for Youth With High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders. Focus        on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities,27(3), 147-157.

Miller, A., Vernon, T., Wu, V., & Russo, K. (2014). Social Skill Group Interventions for   Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review. Rev J Autism Dev         Disord Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 254-265.

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