BoyWhile parents of autistic children confront challenges on a daily basis, a child’s maturation into adolescence is often characterized by a new set of judgments and trials.

Research by McGill University scientists suggests training for social skills can provide an effective method to help autistic adolescents learn to develop and maintain relationships.

Dr. Eric Fombonne, Head of the Division of Child Psychiatry describes the effectiveness of social skills training groups for autistic adolescents in the November 2007 issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

His study shows that the social and interpersonal skills of autistic adolescents can be improved, and does not require significant resources.

Dr. Fombonne and colleagues organized the first training group in 2002, to address the needs of autistic adolescents who had no major delay in their language development or who were not cognitively challenged (high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome).

Since then the training groups have been running twice a year for 14 sessions, each group involving seven to eight adolescents aged an average of 14.6 years.

The major component of the sessions is role play, which allows the patients to simulate different social situations and create new friendships with other members of the group.

The study has proved that a discernible increase in patients’ social skills can be accomplished with the programming and that the improvement is maintained outside the training groups.

Source: McGill University