|TITLE:||THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A SOCIAL SKILLS GROUP AND THE VARIABLES AFFECTING THAT EFFECTIVENESS|
|PRINCIPLE INVESTIGATOR:||NOBLE, AMANDA|
File Created: January 13, 2013|
Department Chair Action Date: January 15, 2013
Current Status: Final Status Report Received
|Confidentiality||Data are linked to individuals.|
STATEMENT OF PURPOSEDifficulty with social interaction is a key deficit in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. This difficulty with social interaction deprives children with autism of the opportunity for social input that is necessary for developing further social and communicative skills, thereby beginning a cycle of children with autism falling further behind their peers in these areas as they age. By the time they are in elementary school most of these individuals with autism are so far behind their peers that they need special training in order to be receptive enough to learn from these social interactions. Social skills groups are a popular method of teaching these skills to children with developmental disabilities who would not develop them without this training. The proposed study will use archival data collected over the course of two semesters of a social skills group sponsored by The Reach Effect, a non-profit organization that provides support for parents of children with special needs, with a curriculum designed and implemented by C. Brooke Allen, BCBA. The goal of this study is not only to examine the effectiveness of this social skills curriculum, which uses Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA, one of the most popular and effective therapies used with children with autism) to teach social skills, but also to examine different variables that might increase or decrease the effectiveness of social skills groups, including the intensity and duration of the intervention, attending multiple sessions versus attending one session, as well as looking at differences in gender and age in regards to learning social skills. It is anticipated that using ABA in developing a social skills curriculum will result in an increase in social skills for all participants, and while intensity and duration of semesters should show little significant difference, attending multiple sessions will result in a greater increase in social skills. Factors such as gender and age should make very little difference, as well. Since there is a dearth of solid quantitative studies focusing on the effectiveness of social skills group, and even less on the use of ABA in social skills group, this study will add to the support for social skills groups as a method to teach social skills to children with developmental disabilities.
STATEMENT OF RESEARCH METHODOLOGYThe proposed study will use only archival data that was taken for the purposes of creating progress reports for parents of the students involved in the Super Stars social skills group. Three social skills were targeted over the duration of both semesters of the social skills group, including gaze following (knowing to look where others are looking), initiating social interactions, and responding to social initiations from others. For each of these skills, an average of scores before the intervention and an average of scores after the intervention will be taken, and a one-way ANOVA will be used to determine if the difference from the beginning of the students’ participation in the social skills group to the end of the group is statistically significant, with the group serving as its own control. The summer session of the group consisted of one and a half hour sessions that took place twice a week for six weeks, while the fall session had only one session of the same length a week for twelve weeks. The percent increase of each skill for summer and fall sessions will be compared with an ANOVA as well, in order to determine if there is any difference in effectiveness based upon the way that sessions are set up. Since some students participated in both sessions of social skills group and some participated in only one or the other, the increase in targeted social skills will be compared between those two groups, as well. Demographical variations, such as gender and age range, can be examined in this way as well, to determine if they make any impact in whether social skills groups are an effective way for students to gain these skills. Since the methods used in the social skills group are based on Applied Behavior Analysis, which uses primarily graphs and visual inference in research, as a discipline, those methods shall also be employed in discussing each of the variables mentioned above.
ANTICIPATED RISKS AND BENEFITSSince this is a study using only archival data, risks are (if not completely nonexistent) absolutely minimal. Any risk is far outweighed by potential benefits, including assisting the group that sponsors the social skills group as well as the BCBA who designed and implemented the curriculum a better idea of the effectiveness of it, what might need to be changed, and which applicants would most benefit from inclusion in a social skills group and therefore whose inclusion should be first priority.
SUBJECT SELECTIONAll the students from whom data was collected were signed up for the Super Stars social skills group by their parents or guardians. Between the two sessions, there are a total of sixteen students, four of whom participated in both the summer and fall sessions, ten in only the summer session, and two in only the fall session. There was a wide age range, with students from four to ten years of age. Six students were female, ten were male. All of the students were capable of communication, most using spoken language and one communicating only in sign language.
CONFIDENTIALITYAll information regarding the students involved in the social skills group is kept in a locked filing cabinet or a password protected computer, with the exception of those reports delivered to the parents themselves. Furthermore, whenever possible, in data students are referred to not by name but by initials, to further minimize exposure of their identities.
Final Report on 03-18-2013Since this project used only archival data, no data collection took place. The first draft of this study is complete and it is now in the revision stage.
|Western is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a member of the North Central Association of Colleges & Schools (NCA), and is an AQIP Participant.|