Efficacy of CBT-based social skills intervention for school-aged boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Author / Creator
    Koning, Cynthia
  • School-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience significant difficulty with peer interaction (Lord & Bishop, 2010), an important aspect of childhood. Unresolved social skills difficulties lead to continued dysfunction in relationships which influence long term success. Research into the most effective strategies has increased but several questions remain. One approach that appears to help school-aged children is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) which focuses on changing how a person thinks about specific social situations as well as how they behave. This study evaluated the efficacy of a 15-week CBT-based social skills group intervention for boys aged 10-12 years diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Boys with average or better receptive language skills and IQ attended weekly sessions focused on teaching self-monitoring skills, social perception and affective knowledge, conversation skills, taking another person’s perspective, social problem-solving, and friendship management skills. Group size varied from four to six participants. The intervention was based on two intervention programs available in the literature and was manualized. Eight of the fifteen participants were waitlisted (Delayed Treatment group) while the remaining participants began 15 sessions of intervention immediately (Immediate Treatment group). A repeated measures ANOVA was used to compare the Delayed Treatment group to the Immediate Treatment group on pre and post measures of social perception, peer interaction, social knowledge, pragmatic language, social responsiveness and general socialization skills. Compared to the Delayed Treatment group, the Immediate Treatment group showed significant improvements after intervention in social perception, peer interaction, and social knowledge. The Delayed Treatment group was also examined on all measures at three time points: prior to the waitlist time, pre-intervention, and post-intervention. Significant improvements only after intervention were present for peer interaction, social knowledge, and a parent report measure of socialization. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to a model of social information-processing, the executive functioning theory of autism, and how cognitive behaviour therapy techniques may contribute to social skills intervention for children with ASD. The intervention used in this study shows promise but replication with larger samples is needed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Magill-Evans, Joyce (Occupational Therapy)
    • Volden, Joanne (Speech Pathology and Audiology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dick, Bruce (Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine & Psychiatry)
    • Bauminger, Nirit (Special Education, School of Education, Bar Ilan University, Israel)
    • Rinaldi, Christina (Educational Psychology)