Group-based social skills treatment: A methodological review

Aaron J. Kaat, Luc Lecavalier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Group-based social skills training (SST) is a common treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). There has been exponential growth in group-based SST in recent years. This review evaluated the SST literature published between 2000 and 2012 on a number of methodological variables. Key quality indicators included conducting a randomized controlled trial (RCT), having a well-characterized sample, using a manualized intervention, and using validated outcome measures. We identified a total of 48 studies. Thirteen studies (27%) were RCTs. Twenty-two studies (46%) had well-characterized samples, but only four (8%) explicitly allowed eligibility for individuals with intellectual disability. Eighteen (38%) had 10 or fewer participants in each active treatment condition. Most studies used or adapted a manual (71%), and had validated outcome measures (92%). Several rating scales and performance measures have seen widespread use. Methodological rigor has been improving as the field grows, especially with regard to the key quality indicators. We provide additional recommendations for future trials regarding study design, expanding participant characterization, statistical methods and analyses, and outcome measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Intervention
  • Methodology
  • Social skills training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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