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Review: social skills groups may improve social competence in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder

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Question: How effective are social skills groups in improving social outcomes for young people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)?

Outcomes: Primary outcome: social competence. Secondary outcomes: social communication, quality of life (including loneliness, friendship, child depression, maternal depression), emotion recognition, specific behaviours and adverse effects.


Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources: CENTRAL (2011, Issue 4), MEDLINE (1948 to November week 3, 2011), EMBASE (1980 to Week 50, 2011), PsycINFO (1887 to December Week 2, 2011), CINAHL (1937 onwards), ERIC (1966 onwards), Sociological Abstracts (1952 onwards), OCLC WorldCat, Social Science Citation Index (1970 to 12 December 2011) and mRCT were searched in December 2011. The reference lists of published papers were hand searched.

Study selection and analysis: Randomised controlled trial (RCTs) comparing social skills groups with no intervention, waitlist or treatment as usual in 6-year-olds to 21-year-olds with ASD (DSM-IV-TR or ICD-10 autistic disorder, Asperger's syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, Rett's syndrome or childhood disintegrative disorder). Social skills groups had to be delivered to at least two individuals in any setting, and be …

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  • Sources of funding: Internal sources: Associates of the Yale Child Study Center and Yale University School of Medicine, USA. External sources: no sources of support supplied.


  • Competing interests EAL is the first author of one of the research studies reviewed in this paper.