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Cross-Cultural Adaptation to Australia of the KONTAKT© Social Skills Group Training Program for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Feasibility Study

Abstract

This study investigated the feasibility and cultural validity of KONTAKT©, a manualised social skills group training, in improving the social functioning of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). KONTAKT© was delivered to 17 adolescents (mage = 14.09, SDage = 1.43; 70% male) with ASD over sixteen 90 min sessions. A pre-test post-test design evaluated changes in personally meaningful social goals, symptom severity, quality of life, interpersonal efficacy, social anxiety, loneliness, and facial emotion recognition at pre, post and 3 months follow-up. Focus groups were conducted post intervention. Findings indicate that KONTAKT© may support Australian adolescents with ASD in achieving their personally meaningful social goals. This study resulted in finalisation of KONTAKT© in preparation for evaluation of its efficacy in a randomised controlled trial (Australian New Zealand Clinical Registry (ANZCTR): ACTRN12617001117303, ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT03294668).

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Acknowledgments

We acknowledge the generous support from the staff at the Karolinska Institutet for Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the Stockholm Health Services, and the staff at the Autism Association of Western Australia who were our partners in the delivery of the interventions and the cross-cultural adaptation. We would also like to thank the participants and trainers who took part in the pilot study and the focus groups. We acknowledge the funding received from Stan Perron’s Charitable Trust which made this study possible.

Funding

This project was funded by the Stan Perron Charitable Trust. The views of the funders have not influenced the content of this paper.

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Contributions

Conceptualisation and design of the study was undertaken by BA, SG, SB, MF and TA. TA and KM assist with administration of groups and offer clinical support. Assessments used were chosen by BA, SG, SB, MF, MB, NC, CC and AF. Analysis of pilot data was undertaken by BA with assistance from SG, MF, MB, SB and NC. Drafting of the manuscript was undertaken by BA with input from SB, SG, MF, MB, SB, CC, AF. FL provided consultation for cost analysis. All authors contributed to, read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sonya Girdler.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Sven Bölte receives royalties from Hogrefe publishers for the German and Swedish KONTAKT© manuals and the Swedish KONTAKT© Activity books. This research is conducted independent from the service provider with no competing interest.

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Afsharnejad, B., Falkmer, M., Black, M.H. et al. Cross-Cultural Adaptation to Australia of the KONTAKT© Social Skills Group Training Program for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Feasibility Study. J Autism Dev Disord 50, 4297–4316 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04477-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04477-5

Keywords

  • Social skills group training
  • Social skills intervention
  • KONTAKT©
  • Cross-cultural adaptation
  • Feasibility
  • Adolescents
  • Autism spectrum disorder