Reference Work Entry

Comprehensive Guide to Autism

pp 1133-1158

Social Skills Deficits in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Evidence Based Interventions

  • Jennifer HollowayAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, National University of Ireland - Galway
  • , Olive HealyAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, National University of Ireland - Galway Email author 
  • , Martina DwyerAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, National University of Ireland - Galway
  • , Sinead LydonAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, National University of Ireland - Galway

Abstract

Impairments in social functioning are at the core of the defining diagnostic features of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In addition to these specific social skills challenges, children with ASD often present with complex learning needs. With the growing demand for children with ASD to integrate within regular education classrooms, the area of social skills interventions and research is growing at a rapid rate. On review of the current empirical literature, the data are mixed and no single social skills intervention is without criticism. There are a number of difficulties when treating social skills deficits in children with ASD. At the kernel of the problem lies the fact that researchers do not concur on one definition for social skills, and this can make the starting point for intervention and research difficult to ascertain. In turn, many children require the prerequisite skills to begin a social skills program. Many children require specialized intensive instruction on prerequisite skills prior to beginning a social skills intervention. The results of studies within the field are mixed in terms of generalization and maintenance outcomes. However, social skills interventions which are delivered in the child’s naturalistic environment predict better outcomes for novel responding and maintenance effects. Some researchers fail to report either.