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Title: A group intervention for adolescents with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism and anxiety in mainstream secondary settings : an evaluation study
Author: Skipper, Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 4444
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2011
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Ch.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available