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Jennifer Crouse, Janet Preis, Ed.D.

Effectiveness of Social Skills Groups and Differences in Gender and Diagnosis in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders and Anxiety

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Individuals are required to interact with others in the world around them on a daily basis. In order to make these interactions successful, each individual should possess a repertoire of social skills, which guide these exchanges. Social skill impairment is a hallmark characteristic of numerous disorders, which possess an inherit communication deficit including, but not limited to, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and anxiety. This investigation evaluated a social skills group intervention with children with ASD, ADHD, and anxiety, ages 7-14. Thirty children were included in cohorts over a period of two years. Parent perspective of social skills and problem behaviors, were measured pre and post test, utilizing the Social Skills Improvement System [SSIS], (Elliot & Gresham, 2010). Data was collected ex post facto after completion of the 10 week social skills group program. No active manipulation of the intervention was completed during this investigation. Participants demonstrated a statistically significant improvement on the Social Skills Scale of the SSIS, with post test scores significantly higher than pre test scores. No significant difference was found between genders; however a significant difference was found between children with ADHD, who showed a greater improvement pre-test to post-test, when compared to participants with ASD and anxiety. Through these results, social skills group intervention shows potential to be an effective method of intervention, and it was shown participants can be mixed in groups with varying diagnoses, instead of being segregated by each diagnosis.

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