Social Skills Intervention for School-aged Children with ASD

Principal Investigator: Rebecca Landa

Primary Objective:

Our primary objective for this study is to test the effectiveness of two distinct models of social skills group interventions (SKILLS and ENGAGE) with an ethnically and economically diverse group of primary school aged children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The goal of this study is to compare the effects of two separate, manualized group interventions designed to improve social outcomes for children with autism.

Significant delays in social communication are a core deficit for children with autism. As the number of children with ASD who attend mainstream elementary schools in the United States continues to rise, it is clear that more effective, empirically supported interventions are needed if schools are to meet the social and emotional needs of their increasingly diverse student body.

This is a multisite study of social skills for children with ASD. All together, there will be 460 participants across all sites with 160 with ASD, 240 with TD, 100 parents and 80 teachers. At KKI/Hopkins,there will be 240 participants, 40 with ASD, 60 typically developing peers, 100 parents, and 80 teachers.

there will be 240 subjects: N=40 [children with ASD ( n=20 in SKILLS, n=20 in ENGAGE0], n=60 typically developing peers, n=100 parents, n=40 teachers of ASD participants.

The first intervention (treatment as usual) protocol utilizes a social skill curriculum delivered to a small group of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) following a treatment as usual model at the child's school site. This group will be referred to as the Skills group (SKILLS intervention, n = 20).

The second intervention protocol delivers a social engagement curriculum at the children’s school site and includes children with autism and typically developing peers (TD), from the same school. This type of group will be referred to as the School Engagement Group (ENGAGE; n = 60; n=20 ASD + n=60 Typically Developing Peers)

The design is a randomized, controlled study contrasting peer-mediated intervention with a more treatment as usual intervention (only children on the spectrum grouped for intervention), both delivered within the natural environment (the child’s school). We will target schools with fully-included children with ASD in the 7 to 12 age range (2nd to 5th grade), and schools with diverse populations of children, specifically from underserved and underrepresented populations. Children will be randomized to either the SKILLS or the ENGAGE social skills group, 16 sessions for 8 weeks (2 sessions per week for up to 60 minutes).