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Social skills training with verbal autistic adolescents and adults: A program model

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An ongoing social skills training program was implemented with 15 verbal autistic adolescents and adults. The major long-range goals were for the participants to have positive peer-related social experiences in a supportive atmosphere and to learn useful skills in this way. Short-term training objectives included how to meet other people, stay on a topic of conversation, ask questions, pay attention, and express one's feelings and emotions. Teaching techniques included modeling, coaching, and role-playing. Preliminary indications suggest that the main goals and training objectives were being accomplished and that clients were progressing in their conversational skills, their selection of relevant topics, and their perceptions of themselves. The implications of this program for the understanding and treatment of autistic adolescents and adults is described, as well as the viability of a social skills training model. The need for more research on this most important issue is highlighted.

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The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of Bruce Schaffer, Janet Martin, Amy Woods, Rhoda Landrus, Joanne Honeycutt, Marie Bristol, Pat Fennell, and the other TEACCH staff and students who have participated in the groups and helped to conceptualize the program.

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Mesibov, G.B. Social skills training with verbal autistic adolescents and adults: A program model. J Autism Dev Disord 14, 395–404 (1984).

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