Social Competence Intervention for Elementary Students with Aspergers Syndrome and High Functioning Autism

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Despite frequent reports of academic success, individuals with high functioning autism or Aspergers Syndrome (HFA/AS) often manifest deficits in social abilities. These deficits can lead to daily difficulties, and negative long-term outcomes. Deficits in social competency are evident in this population from an early age, as children with HFA/AS present unique challenges relating to peers, interpreting complex contextual cues, and transitioning across settings. A paucity of social interventions exist that target elementary-age children with HFA/AS and their combination of core social competence deficit areas: theory of mind (ToM), emotional recognition, and executive functioning. The current study expanded on the Social Competence Intervention (for adolescents; SCI-A), as detailed in Stichter et al. (J Autism Dev Disorders 40:1067–1079, 2010), by adjusting the curriculum to meet the needs of an elementary population. Results indicate significant improvements on direct assessments measuring theory of mind and problem solving, and parent perceptions of overall social abilities and executive functioning for 20 students, aged 6–10, with HFA/AS. The elementary SCI program appears promising, however, additional replications are necessary including expansion to school settings.

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