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Adapting Evidence-Based Social Skills Training for Individuals with High Functioning Autism

SBIR phase II

Project Info

Project Description

NIMH
ID: HHSN27100664102C
PI: MELISSA DEROSIER, PHD
TERM: 10/06 – 09/09

Children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) are at heightened risk for a wide range of social relationship problems. Specialists in the field of autism suggest the social skill deficits experienced by people with HFASD are the most difficult aspect of the disorder to overcome. S.S.GRIN-HFA (Social Skills Group Intervention for High Functioning Autism) builds upon the solid foundation of an existing evidence-based curriculum for social skills training (S.S.GRIN) with key alterations to make the training specifically applicable for children with HFASD.S.S.GRIN-HFA provides mental health professionals with a unique multi-modal, multi-component intervention program to build the social skills and social relationships of children ages eight through twelve with HFASD.S.S.GRIN-HFA integrates a structured skill-based curriculum with video and graphic materials that not only target specific skill sets, but also bridge the intervention setting with home efforts to promote social functioning.

In Phase I of the project, feasibility testing results provided substantial support for continued development of the intervention. Phase I findings provided essential constructive feedback that informed the direction of the development of S.S.GRIN-HFA (e.g., adding DVD video components to increase engagement of children; including more worksheet activities). Mental health professionals in both community and school settings, parents, and children strongly endorsed the S.S.GRIN-HFA intervention.

Phase II continued the research and development of S.S.GRIN-HFA. The program was revised and refined based on Phase I results, feedback from the Phase II Advisory Committee, and feedback obtained from school- and community-based professionals serving children with HFASD. Once the program modifications were complete, a randomized controlled trial was conducted with children ages 8-12 with HFASD to evaluate the efficacy of S.S.GRIN-HFA. Results supported multiple positive treatment effects. Children who participated in the S.S.GRIN-HFA intervention demonstrated a significant improvement in social skills, whereas children in treatment as usual (TAU) showed a decline. Additionally, parents who participated with their child in the S.S.GRIN-HFA intervention demonstrated greater self-efficacy for helping their child with social problems at post-treatment whereas parents in the TAU group showed declining self-efficacy.

S.S.GRIN HFA is now available for purchase. To learn more or to purchase S.S.GRIN HFA, visit 3C Marketplace.

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