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Social-Pragmatic Treatment for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Interview Skills Curriculum

State/Province Full: 
United States

Longitudinal research following individuals with ASD into adulthood generally paints a bleak picture of outcomes, suggesting that 60-75% of people with autism have poor adjustment in adulthood. Treatments are needed for adults with ASD that address the core deficits of social communication and emotional regulation as well as comorbid mental health concerns. The investigators will test to an innovative treatment for adults with ASD employing a social-pragmatic approach that targets skills within the meaningful, relevant context of the job interview. The purpose of this project is to prepare for a relatively large multicenter, randomized trial by developing and evaluating a novel treatment that can address core symptoms and comorbid mental health conditions in adults with ASD. Specifically, the study evaluates a social skills intervention to be delivered within the context of an Interviewing Skills Curriculum (ISC). The objectives of this project are to (1) refine and test the fidelity of our experimental treatment manual, (2) complete a preliminary randomized trial to evaluate the feasibility of the subsequent larger trial, and (3) develop a Manual of Procedures (MOP) for a subsequent randomized trial. The study includes a randomized feasibility study to test ISC. The sample includes 30 adults with ASD recruited from the FSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities in Tallahassee, Florida. Initial assessments will be conducted to confirm diagnosis of ASD and to provide baseline sample characteristics. Individuals will be randomized to one of two possible treatment orders (i.e., crossover design). Participants will be evaluated at baseline and six months after baseline. ISC is a manualized intervention protocol that teaches adults with ASD a broad range of social and pragmatic skills that are utilized within the context of a job interview. It is a 3-month treatment package presented in a group setting utilizing weekly meetings. ISC has been used clinically with 25 individuals with ASD. Because this experimental treatment targets the job interview context, one aim is to evaluate whether ISC increases in targeted social communication skills, changes in adaptive behavior, and quality of life variables. Further positive changes in mental health status as a result of ISC will also be explored.