Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 3458–3478 | Cite as

A Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial of a School-Based Resilience Intervention to Prevent Depressive Symptoms for Young Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Mixed Methods Analysis

  • Bethany A. Mackay
  • Ian M. Shochet
  • Jayne A. OrrEmail author
Original Paper


Despite increased depression in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), effective prevention approaches for this population are limited. A mixed methods pilot randomised controlled trial (N = 29) of the evidence-based Resourceful Adolescent Program-Autism Spectrum Disorder (RAP-A-ASD) designed to prevent depression was conducted in schools with adolescents with ASD in years 6 and 7. Quantitative results showed significant intervention effects on parent reports of adolescent coping self-efficacy (maintained at 6 month follow-up) but no effect on depressive symptoms or mental health. Qualitative outcomes reflected perceived improvements from the intervention for adolescents’ coping self-efficacy, self-confidence, social skills, and affect regulation. Converging results remain encouraging given this population’s difficulties coping with adversity, managing emotions and interacting socially which strongly influence developmental outcomes.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Randomised controlled trial School-based intervention Depression prevention Coping self-efficacy Affect and emotion regulation 



This research was completed by Bethany Mackay as part of a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the Queensland University of Technology, supervised by Ian Shochet. The authors are grateful to Bonnie Duncan and Coral Smith for reviewing versions of the manuscript.

Author Contributions

IS and BM conceived of the study, participated in the design of the study and interpretation of the data, and helped draft the manuscript. BM coordinated the study and conducted the recruitment and testing of participants. IS, BM and JO participated in the interpretation of the data and the drafting of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bethany A. Mackay
    • 1
  • Ian M. Shochet
    • 1
  • Jayne A. Orr
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Psychology and CounsellingQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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