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EBP Compendium: Summary of Systematic Review

Social Skills Intervention for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review of the Experimental Evidence

Burgess, S., & Turkstra, L. (2007).
EBP Briefs, 1, 41-58.

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review addresses a clearly focused question No
Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided Yes
Search strategy is described in sufficient detail for replication No
Included studies are assessed for study quality Yes
Quality assessments are reproducible No

Description: This is a review of quantitative studies investigating social skills intervention for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Question(s) Addressed:

Question not specifically stated.

Population: Adolescents ages 13 to 21 with ASD.

Intervention/Assessment: ASD social skills groups, group therapy with typically developing peers, and individual social skills therapy.

Number of Studies Included: 16

Years Included: Through 2004



  • Treatment
    • Cognition-Language
      • Peer Mediated/Implemented - "The studies reviewed suggest that typically developing adolescents can enhance the social skills of peers with ASD in naturalistic environments" (p. 44).
      • Pragmatics/Social Skills
        • General Findings - While studies have shown that adolescents acquire targeted social skills quickly in individual social skills therapy, the external validity of these findings are unclear due to the lack of evidence that treatment outcomes generalize outside of therapy (p. 45).
        • Patient Perspectives - “There is no indication other than anecdotal reports that the adolescents involved valued their participation in these programs or that participation enhanced their quality of life” (p. 45).
      • Social Skills Groups - “Results of several studies provide support for adult-facilitated social skills groups “to address impairment-level function in adolescents with ASD and to increase their participation in social activities” (p. 43).

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Social Skills

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Added to Compendium: March 2012

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