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EBP Compendium: Summary of Clinical Practice Guideline

National Academies of Science; U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
Interventions to Facilitate Social Interaction for Young Children with Autism: Review of Available Research and Recommendations for Educational Intervention and Future Research

McConnell, S. R. (2002).
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(5), 351–372.

AGREE Rating: Recommended with Provisos


This guideline provides recommendations for education interventions for children with autism. The target audience of this guideline includes speech-language pathologists and other professionals involved in the management of children with ASD.  


  • Treatment
    • Cognition/Language
      • General Findings
        • Ecological variations (e.g., structured activities, developmentally integrated play groups) have been shown in some instances to produce weak to moderate effects on outcomes of social interaction in young children with autism. Considerable variability is noted across studies, strategies, and children. While ecological variations alone may be insufficient to produce changes in social interaction, these variations may be necessary components of more intensive interventions (p. 360).
        • Literature suggests that collateral skills interventions “may increase social interaction by bringing children with autism into contact with typically developing peers, thus activating natural processes for social development” (p. 361). Similar to ecological variations, collateral skills interventions may also be components of comprehensive interventions (p. 361).
        • Child-specific interventions may also increase social interaction and mean length of utterance; “however, these interventions may, in isolation, have limited potential” (p. 362). There is a relatively small evidence base for comprehensive interventions; however, this evidence suggests that these interventions can produce important effects on social interaction in the intervention setting and there is some evidence of generalization to other settings (p. 365).
      • Peer-Mediated/Implemented
        • Peer-mediated interventions have been shown to produce “powerful and robust treatment effects across a number of children, investigators, and intervention variations” (p. 364). These interventions are challenged, however, by the lack of generalization and maintenance evidence. “The ameliorative effects of these interventions require continuous access to 'trained' peers, and thus likely ongoing training of new peer cohorts” (p. 364).  

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders; Social Skills

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Added to Compendium: November 2010

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