Building Skills, Confidence, and Wellness: Psychosocial Effects of Soft Skills Training for Young Adults with Autism
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Recognizing that social functioning and mental health are linked to social participation and employment outcomes, this pilot study examined the preliminary outcomes of an eight-session, work-related social skills training program designed for young adults with high-functioning autism (HFASD). Results indicate statistically significant improvements in social cognition, social function, and social confidence. Furthermore, participants (n = 26) reported statistically significant reductions in anxiety, and a trend toward lessening depressive symptoms. These results suggest that: (1) social skills training is suitable for individuals with HFASD and clinically-significant levels of anxiety and/or depression, and (2) bolstered social functioning may have broader, cyclical impacts on social confidence, psychological wellness, and social and vocational participation in this population.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Work-related social skills Employment Mental health Young adults Adolescents
The authors would like to thank all the participants for their commitment and time in taking part in this study. The lead author would like to thank her dissertation supervisor. Dr. Connie Sung, for her mentorship in bringing this work to publication.
AC and CS conceived of the study, and participated in all aspects of design, implementation, data collection, and analysis. AS and SZ provided additional statistical analyses. SF updated the literature review and assisted with the introduction. AC drafted the manuscript with assistance from all authors to augment, revise, and strengthen the end product. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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