“Just ask what support we need”: Autistic adults’ feedback on social skills training

Laura Hull*, Shravani Rane, Samman, Hang-lai LEE, Felicity Sedgewick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Background:
Social skills training (SST) is an intervention intended to support the development of social communication and interaction for autistic people, often through role-play, modeling, peer mediation, or group activities. While often targeted at autistic children, adults may also be offered SST following diagnosis. Evaluations of SST generally focus on social and behavioral outcomes, with little consideration for participants' experience of the intervention. This study was the first to seek the perspectives of autistic adults regarding their previous experiences of SST in childhood or adulthood.

Methods:
We interviewed a total of 11 autistic adults (5 male, 5 female, and 1 agender) from the United Kingdom online. Interviews were semi-structured and focused on participants' previous experiences of SST and how they felt it could be improved. We analyzed data using reflexive thematic analysis.

Results:
Autistic adults wanted support around social communication and life skills, which they felt was not always provided through SST. Participants suggested that SST should be personalized and accessible as and when needed. Support through autistic peers and trained neurotypicals was particularly valued. Some emphasized the need for non-autistic people to receive training on how to socialize with autistic people. Some participants also reported negative experiences of SST or felt that it was not necessary.

Conclusions:
Current SST provision in the United Kingdom does not always meet the needs of autistic adults. Services providing SST should consider personalizing their support options and ensure that autistic adults are involved in the design and delivery of SST. Some autistic people may not want or need SST, and it should be integrated to a broader range of support options.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAutism in Adulthood
Early online date22 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright 2024, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

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