Developing social interaction and understanding in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: a groupwork intervention

T MacKay, Fiona Knott, Aline-Wendy Dunlop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Background Difficulties with social interaction and understanding lie at the heart of the communication disorder that characterises the autism spectrum. This study sought to improve social communication for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by means of a groupwork intervention focusing on social and emotional perspective‐taking, conversation skills, and friendship skills. It also aimed to address some of the limitations of previous interventions, including a lack of generalisation to other settings, so as to maximise inclusion in the community.

Method A group of 46 high functioning children and adolescents with ASD (38 boys, 8 girls, age range 6–16 years) were allocated to one of 6 intervention groups. Each group met over a period of 12–16 weeks for a minimum of one 1½‐hour weekly session aimed at promoting key areas of social interaction and understanding, supported by home‐based practice.

Results Significant gains were achieved in comparison with a normative population, and individual parent ratings showed marked and sustained changes in the key areas targeted in the group sessions.

Conclusion Social communication in children and adolescents with ASD can be enhanced through the use of a groupwork intervention addressing social interaction and understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-290
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • social interaction
  • communication
  • group intervention


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