Computer-based social and emotional skills training for high-functioning children with an autism-spectrum condition: A randomised, controlled trial of “The Secret Agent Society” as a parentdirected intervention

Hugh Walker (2016). Computer-based social and emotional skills training for high-functioning children with an autism-spectrum condition: A randomised, controlled trial of “The Secret Agent Society” as a parentdirected intervention Professional Doctorate, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Hugh Walker
Thesis Title Computer-based social and emotional skills training for high-functioning children with an autism-spectrum condition: A randomised, controlled trial of “The Secret Agent Society” as a parentdirected intervention
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2016-02-16
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Kate Sofronoff, PhD (Clinical)
Renae Beaumont, PhD (Clinical)
Total pages 336
Total colour pages 157
Total black and white pages 179
Language eng
Subjects 170102 Developmental Psychology and Ageing
170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
170103 Educational Psychology
Abstract/Summary Face-to-face social skills training groups based on the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy and which include parent involvement and strategies to target emotion regulation have been shown to be effective in remediating social and emotional-regulation skills for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Level 1, without intellectual impairment (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Beaumont & Sofronoff, 2008; Laugeson et al., 2009; White et al., 2013). Many families face geographical, financial and temporal barriers however, which prohibit the accessibility of these face-to-face interventions (Kazdin & Blase, 2011). The present study explored whether a parent-directed variant of the Secret Agent Society (SAS) Programme (Beaumont, 2006) could be an effective and feasible intervention to overcome accessibility barriers, and remediate social and emotional skills of children with an ASD. Seventy child-parent dyads were recruited across Eastern Australian States and randomised to one of two parent-directed programmes: the SAS condition (n = 35) or the CIA condition (an active control; n = 35). Parents in both conditions received brief training and ongoing weekly support sessions via Skype to assist with programme delivery. Measures were completed at pre-intervention, post-intervention (10 weeks) and at six-week follow-up (16 weeks). Results suggested that children in the SAS condition improved significantly more than the CIA condition on parent-rated social and emotional skills, teacher-rated social skills, knowledge of emotion management strategies for anxiety as well as reduced parent-reported problem behavior at post-intervention. In addition a significant pre-post reduction in parental psychological distress was recorded for parents in the SAS condition but not the CIA condition. At the six-week follow-up, knowledge of anger management strategies were significantly greater for the SAS condition relative to the CIA condition. Furthermore, all gains were maintained relative to baseline, however, a reliable assessment of skill maintenance at school was obscured by a low return-rate of teacher-questionnaires at follow-up. Overall, the present study provided preliminary evidence that a parent-directed social and emotional skills intervention can be an effective ‘light touch’ alternative for families facing accessibility barriers to evidence-based face-to-face interventions. Limitations and implications of the study are discussed.
Keyword autism spectrum
children
social skills training
emotion regulation
self directed
randomised controlled trial

 
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Created: Tue, 16 Feb 2016, 10:52:41 EST by Hugh Walker on behalf of Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences