The Effects of Social Skills Groups for Young Children with Social Delays

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The Effects of Social Skills Groups for Young Children with Social Delays

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Title: The Effects of Social Skills Groups for Young Children with Social Delays
Author: Koyama, Takanori
Abstract: This study was conducted as a program evaluation of an existing social skills program. A review of literature identified a limited number of empirical studies on group-based social skills training for young children with social delays. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of social skills groups as well as the effects of homework for young children with social delays. Fourteen preschool and kindergarten students were randomly assigned to either a regular or an enhanced social skills group. Both groups met once a week and received instruction in a small group format for a total of 20 sessions. The group consisted of explicit instruction of target social skills, skill practice activities, social games, and free play. Children in the enhanced social skills group also received weekly homework. Outcomes were measured by: a) ratings on children’s individual learning objectives, b) behavior observation in free play, c) Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), and d) parent feedback form. Behavior observation during social skills groups’ free play provided some support for the effectiveness of the groups on increasing the participants’ social interaction with peers. The participants also played and interacted with peers more frequently in a generalization setting (classroom free play) at the end of the intervention. Teacher- and parent-rated scores on the SRS provided additional support for improvement of social functioning after the intervention. Further, the parent feedback form revealed that parents perceived the groups to be highly appropriate and effective for increasing their children’s social skills, but assigned lower ratings to the feasibility and effectiveness of homework. Comparison of the regular and enhanced social skills groups implied only a small or no impact of homework on the participants’ social behaviors in free play. However, parents in the enhanced social skills (homework) group reported the biggest improvement on their children’s SRS scores. Taken together, the present study provided preliminary evidence on the effectiveness and social validity of social skills groups for increasing young children’s social competence. Implications for increasing treatment integrity, implications for future research, and the role of social skills groups on providing social support for parents are discussed.

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