Group-Based Social Skills Training with Play for Children on the Autism Spectrum

  • Monica Chester
  • Amanda L. RichdaleEmail author
  • Jane McGillivray


Despite widespread clinical use of group-based social skills training (SST) for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there remains a lack of follow-up data, generalisation effects, common definition of social skills, and teacher report data. This study evaluated the effectiveness of an 8-week SST intervention with a play component (unstructured versus semi-structured) for children with ASD across a range of social, behavioural and emotional measures. Forty-five children aged 8–12 years (M = 10.16, SD = 1.26) were assigned to one of three groups: (a) SST with unstructured play; (b) SST with semi-structured play; and (c) waitlist control. Compared to a waitlist control group, children who participated in the SST intervention showed significant gains in social skills and social competence over time.


Social skills training Play Children Autism spectrum disorder 



The information presented in this paper formed part of Dr Chester’s dissertation for her Doctorate of Psychology (Clinical). The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Associate Professor Mark Stokes for his valuable advice with data analysis and Associate Professor Susana Gavidia-Payne for her contribution to the initial study design. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the dedication of the children and their parents participating in the study.

Author Contributions

MC modified and conducted the intervention program, collected the data and performed the analysis under the supervision of ALR and JM. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the data, the writing of the manuscript and the provision of critical feedback.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychology and Public Health, Olga Tennison Autism Research CentreLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Psychology, Deakin Child Study CentreDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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