An Evaluation of a Social Skills Intervention for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disabilities preparing for Employment in Ireland: A Pilot Study
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are faced with significant barriers relating to employment opportunities and workplace participation. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the Walker social skills curriculum: the ACCESS program and video modeling to increase social communication skills necessary for workplace inclusion. Participants attended two sessions (i.e., 3 h) per week across a period of 20 weeks. A multiple-probe design was used to demonstrate social skills outcomes across three broad curricular areas (i.e., peer-related, adult-related, and self-related social skills). Pre-and post-intervention standardized assessments were also taken. Results showed significant increases in target social skills and a significant decrease in problem behaviors following intervention. Evidence of maintenance and generalization were also demonstrated. Implications for practice and research are discussed.
KeywordsSocial communication skills Autism spectrum disorder Intellectual disability Employment Vocational skills Adults
EW, JH and HL conceptualised the study and EW collected data and completed analysis. All authors contributed to the interpretation of results and reviewed the manuscript critcally, and approved the final version.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This study was funded by the Health Service Executive and Ability West Galway.
Conflict of Interest
The first author receiving funding for the implementation of the study as a research assistant. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
“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.”
- Cohen, J. W. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd edn.). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Constantino, J. N., & Gruber, C. P. (2012). Social responsiveness scale-second edition (SRS-2). Torrance: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
- Gantman, A., Kapp, S. K., Orenski, K., & Laugeson, E. A. (2012). Social Skills Training for Young Adults with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 1094–1103. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-011-1350-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Garcia-Villamisar, D., Wehman, P., & Navarro, M. D. (2002). Changes in the quality of autistic people’s life that work in supported and sheltered employment. A 5-year follow-up study. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 17, 309–312.Google Scholar
- Gresham, F. M., & Elliott, S. (1990). The social skills rating system. Minnesota: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
- Gresham, F. M., & Elliott, S. N. (2008). Social skills improvement system-rating scales. Minneapolis: Pearson Assessments.Google Scholar
- Hillier, A., Campbell, H., Mastriani, K., Izzo, M. V., Kool-Tucker, A. K., Cherry, L., & Beversdorf, D. Q. (2007a). Two-year evaluation of a vocational support program for adults on the autism spectrum. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 30(1), 35–47. https://doi.org/10.1177/08857288070300010501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hillier, A. J., Fish, T., Siegel, J. H., & Beversdorf, D. Q. (2011). Social and vocational skills training reduces self-reported anxiety and depression among young adults on the autism spectrum. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 23, 267–276. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10882-011-9226-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Liu, K. P. Y., Wong, D., Chung, A. C. Y., Kwok, N., Lam, M. K. Y., Yeun, C. M. C., Arblaster, K., & Kwan, A. C. S. (2013). Effectiveness of a workplace training programme in improving social, communication and emotional skills for adults with autism and intellectual disability in Hong Kong—A Pilot Study. Occupational Therapy Interventions, 20, 198–204. https://doi.org/10.1002/oti.1356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Müller, E., Schuler, A., Burton, B. A., & Yates, G. B. (2003). Meeting the vocational support needs of individuals with Asperger syndrome and other autism spectrum disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 18, 163–175.Google Scholar
- Shtayermman, O. (2007). Peer victimization in adolescents and young adults diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. A link to depressive symptomatology, anxiety symptomatology and suicidal ideation. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 30, 87–107. https://doi.org/10.1080/01460860701525089.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Shulta-Mehta, S., Miller, T., & Callahan, R. J. (2010). Evaluating the effectiveness of video instruction on the social and communication skills training for children with autism spectrum disorders: A review of the literature. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 25, 23–36. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088357609352901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Smith, M. J., Ginger, E. J., Wright, K., Wright, M. A., Taylor, J. L., Humm, L. B., Olsen, D. E., Bell, M. D., & Fleming, M. F. (2014). Virtual reality job interview training in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 2450–2463. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2113-y.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Vogeley, K., Kirchner, J. C., Gawronski, A., Tebartz van Elst, L. T., & Dziobek, I. (2013). Toward the development of a supported employment program for individuals with high-functioning autism in Germany. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 263(2), 197–203. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00406-013-0455-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Walker, J., Todis, B., Holmes, D., & Horton, G. (1988). The Walker social skills curriculum: The ACCESS program (adolescent curriculum for communication and effective social skills). Austin: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
- Wang, P., & Spillane, A. (2009). Evidence-based social skills interventions for children with autism: A meta-analysis. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 44(3), 318–342.Google Scholar