A Group Intervention for Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome or High-functioning Autism and Anxiety in Mainstream Secondary Settings: An Evaluation Study

Prof Doc Thesis

Skipper, Jane 2011. A Group Intervention for Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome or High-functioning Autism and Anxiety in Mainstream Secondary Settings: An Evaluation Study. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsSkipper, Jane
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Social impairment and anxiety are a significant source of difficulty for adolescents with
Asperger Syndrome (AS) and High-functioning Autism (HFA), particularly those attending
mainstream secondary schools, where social pressures and demands are great. Without
intervention, adolescents in these settings are vulnerable to social isolation, peer rejection and
developing mental-health difficulties. This research evaluated the efficacy of the ASC@KS3
programme, a programme which combines social-skills training, peer-mediation and
cognitive behavioural techniques delivered by school staff as a ten-week intervention for 12
adolescents with AS and HFA across four mainstream secondary schools. A mixed-methods
design was adopted to examine the programme's potential impact on anxiety and social
inclusion and how participants perceived the programme. Anxiety and social acceptance were
assessed through a quasi-experimental within-subjects design, with participants acting as
their own controls in a 'normal school interventions' phase.
Statistical analysis revealed a significant reduction in self- and parent-reported anxiety and a
significant increase in coping strategies for anxiety generated by ASC adolescents over the
course of the intervention when compared to normal school interventions. This reduction in
anxiety and increase in coping strategies was maintained at follow-up, indicating the
maintenance and generalisation of effects beyond the intervention. Statistical analysis
revealed no statistically significant differences in social acceptance over the course of the
research but social acceptance increased over the intervention phase and qualitative findings
indicated that participants perceived that the programme had a positive impact on the social
inclusion of the ASC adolescents amongst their peer group.
The findings of this research have significant implications for educational psychologists who
are facing increasing demand to implement effective intervention for adolescents with ASC.
With evidence-based practice an integral part of the role, this research demonstrates that
educational psychologists can design and evaluate effective interventions that can be
delivered by school staff to reduce anxiety and promote the social inclusion of a group of
adolescents with profound difficulties in schools. It is possible that with further evidence of
efficacy the ASC@KS3 programme can play a role in the future evidence-based practice of
educational psychologists improving outcomes for adolescents with ASC.

Publication dates
PrintMay 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Jun 2014
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