Group Interventions for Children with ASD

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Does the inclusion of group intervention improve social interaction skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Meredith Marlowe:

Does the inclusion of group intervention improve social interaction skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Meredith Marlowe Critically Appraised Topic Summary of Findings: One of occupational therapy’s roles when working with children with autism is improving their social participation. This is especially important in a school setting. Availability of social peer-interventions for children with ASD was low. Research should be continued in this area because the little research that has been completed has shown great improvements of social skills in children with autism in regular-education classrooms with their peers . Implications for Practice, Education, Future Research: These studies help set a framework for creating a more effective social skills treatment protocol for children with high-functioning ASD by including groups of peers. Each of them address many areas of the OTPF: play exploration and participation, and social participation. Further research is needed to make this an evidence-based intervention, and could open our realm of practice beyond the clinic into more natural social environments for children with ASD.   Kamps , et al. , 2015 Kansari , et al., 2012 DeRosier , et al., 2010 Eapen , et al., 2013 Level of Evidence; Design Type Level II – RCT Level II – RCT Level II – RCT Level IV – Pre-post study Subject description 95 children with Autism Spectrum Disoder (ASD) in a regular education kindergarten class. 60 children with ASD ages 6-11 years old in mainstream classrooms of grades 1-5, and an IQ above 65. 55 children with high-functioning ASD (and their parents) ages 8-12 years old and an IQ of at least 85. 26 children 36-58 months old with ASD in an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre in metropolitan Sydney, Australia. Intervention investigated Group participation in games and other table-top activities to improve social and communication skills with typically developing peers.  Children either worked with a therapist on child-assisted social skills intervention, or participated in peer-mediated social skills intervention. Children participated in social skills interventions with an OT, and their parents attended 4 of 15 sessions. Children received individual and group Early Start Denver Model treatment in an Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre.   Comparison intervention   Control group received typical treatment interventions within the school system. Control group received no treatment.   Control group received typical S.S.GRIN treatment with no parent interaction.  There was no control group in this study. Outcome measures used Direct observations, CLEF-4, VABS Teacher Report, Teacher ratings of classroom behaviour, Teacher Impression Scale, non-treatment and generalized probes. Playground observation, SNS, Social Network Salience, TPSS.  Parent report of demographics, SRS; child report of Social Dissatisfaction Questionnare ; Parent and child report of social self-efficacy scale.  MSEL, SCQ, VABS-II Statistical significance between groups (Results and Conclusions) ? Statistically significant improvements were seen in the intervention group in overall social engagement. Greater significant improvements were seen in the intervention group with social interaction with typically-developing peers.   Significant main effect for parent reports of children in the intervention group for overall social skills and social self-efficacy scores. Statistically significant increases in social participation through all outcome measures.   Limitations of Study Not using peer perceptions or analyzing the change in the child’s communication skills; lack of versatility among groups with genders and ethnicities; Time and ability to implement treatment. Having to work with participants’ school calendars; small sample size; and not including observations of peers and the child with ASD. The major limitation for this study was lack of a true control group, as the comparison group received the same treatment without parent interaction. Lack of a control group; lack of standardized observational measure for diagnosis of ASD.

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