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Social groups for teenagers with autism

Adolescence is a time of increasing social demands, during which peer networks become important. Contrary to popular belief, teenagers with autism often accurately perceive their social interaction and communication skills and their limitations in networking with their peers. The social difficulties associated with autism along other co-morbidities such as social anxiety, can make this period in life very difficult for the teenagers, negatively impacting their and their families daily functioning. It has been argued that social skills training programs can be really helpful improving social communication skills, reducing anxiety and improving family quality of life.

Curtin Autism Research Group has chosen one of such programs, named KONTAKT, which has been really successful teaching Swedish teenagers social skills. With a partnership with Autism Association of Western Australia, the research group aims to modify and fit the program into Australian context.

The questions the research group is really interested in, are: 1) will this program help the teenagers achieve their socially meaningful goals (e.g. finding a new friend, see what my peers are interested in, how to understand the emotions they are expressing) and improve their social functioning as compared to a social cooking group? 2) Will it be cost-effective to run such groups in Australia?

To learn more about this study, please contact Bahareh Afsharnejad.