Enhancing Social Functioning Among Adolescents with Asperger's syndrome and High Functioning Autism
University of Central Florida
Basic & Clinical
The goal of this project is to adapt an empirically supported social skills training (SST) program originally developed for socially anxious adolescents to target the specific social needs of adolescents with Asperger's syndrome or high-functioning autism (AS/HFA). This program, entitled Comprehensive Social Skills Training for Adolescents (CSST-A), includes weekly social skills training sessions conducted in small groups of 4 or 5 adolescents and programmed practice sessions conducted in school and community settings. The project will recruit 20 adolescents with AS/HFA between the ages of 13 and 17 from families seeking treatment at the Autism and Developmental Disorders Clinic at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center to participate in the CSST-A program. Participating adolescents, their parents, and their teachers will complete questionnaires and clinical interviews and clinicians will rate adolescents' overall social and academic functioning in actual social settings before and after treatment to determine the effectiveness of the program. The same assessments will be conducted 3 and 6-months after treatment to determine if social skills hold up over time. What this means for people with autism: Treatment for social anxiety represents a pressing need for individuals with autism. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a comprehensive social skills training program for adolescents with AS/HFA that can be widely disseminated in schools and community settings.