Social Skills Training Interventions Used to Help Children with Autism Improve and Generalize Social Skills By Jenna DallaValle

Interview with Kristen (BCBA)

  • Describes evidence based practice "as a method of treatment that has substantial peer-reviewed research support on its efficacy in training a specific symptom or condition and also has research supporting that it does not harm individuals undergoing treatment"
  • Uses "research to drive all decisions and recommendations [she makes]- all interventions recommended are either ones [she knows] are EBPs or ones that [she researches] in peer-reviewed journals and cite in programs"
  • Challenges include: difficulty implementing only EBPs when families ask for non-EBPS, BCBAs must educate their clients on potential dangers of treatments that are not evidence based; if families do choose to use non-EBPs, previous progress in skills may be reversed
  • Believes research skills are extremely valuable
  • Completed thesis during ABA master's program and has found the experience to be extremely helpful

Research Question

What types of interventions help children with autism to improve and generalize social skills?

Literature Review Findings

School-Based SST

  • School is an optimal setting for SST because it provides a great amount of opportunities to not only teach social skills but also for the children to practice these skills (Beaumont, Rotolone, and Sofronoff, 2015).

SST With Specific Themes

  • SST interventions with specific themes are used in order to help children with autism generalize social skills by naturally reinforcing activities, such as LEGOs and superheroes, they may see in their everyday lives (Owens, Granader, Humphrey, & Baron-Cohen, 2008).

LEGO Therapy

  • According to research of Owens et al. (2008), social setbacks which are specific to children with decreased after participating in LEGO therapy.

Music Therapy

  • It has been found children with ASD process music in a different way than typical people do (LaGasse, 2014).

"Superheroes Social Skills"

  • A study conducted by Radley, Ford, McHugh, Dadakhodjaeva, O’Handley, Battaglia, & Lum (2015) evaluated the efficacy of Superheroes Social Skills in order to help two children with ASD improve and generalize social skills.

Future occupational therapists can use these different types of interventions while working with children with autism who need help with improving and generalizing social skills. Research shows school-based SST is most effective, but if working with children younger than school-age, other interventions such as LEGO therapy and music therapy may be effective.


Beaumont, R., Rotolone, C., & Sofronoff, K. (2015). The secret agent society social skills program for children with high‐functioning autism spectrum disorders: A comparison of two school variants. Psychology In The Schools, 52(4), 390-402. doi:10.1002/pits.21831

Owens, G., Granader, Y., Humphrey, A., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2008). LEGO® therapy and the social use of language programme: An evaluation of two social skills interventions for children with high functioning autism and Asperger syndrome. Journal Of Autism And Developmental Disorders, 38(10), 1944-1957. doi:10.1007/s10803-008-0590-6

Radley, K. C., Ford, W. B., McHugh, M. B., Dadakhodjaeva, K., O'Handley, R. D., Battaglia, A. A., & Lum, J. K. (2015). Brief report: Use of Superheroes Social Skills to promote accurate social skill use in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal Of Autism And Developmental Disorders, 45(9), 3048-3054. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2442-5

Weglarz, K. (2017, February 27). [E-mail interview].


Created with images by MaxNass - "young shaking hands" • TeroVesalainen - "question mark why problem" • WerbeFabrik - "duplo lego build" • stevepb - "piano music score music sheet" • spadge6868 - "batman 5" • Abu Sinan - "Autism"

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