Collections > Scholarly Posters and Presentations > A Systematic Literature Review of the Impact of Self-Regulation Intervention Strategies on Social Communication Outcomes of Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

Research Question What were the effects on social communication outcomes of children with ASD who received intervention targeting self regulation compared to those who did not? Background Social communication is a key area of deficit associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and social communication abilities are closely aligned with social outcomes such as appropriate social interaction and formation of social bonds for individuals on the spectrum. Emotional regulation and self management of social behaviors are core capacities underpinning social communication skills (Prizant & Wetherby, 1990). These skills can be characterized by the intrinsic and extrinsic ability to modulate emotion and monitor behavior in various social environments. For the purposes of the present review these skills are referred to as self regulation or emotional regulation. Individuals with ASD who experience emotional regulation difficulties may also experience negative impact on development of social communication skills. Therefore, interventions that target emotional and self regulation may have a unique advantage in addressing social communication outcomes in individuals with ASD. To our knowledge, systematic reviews investigating the relationship of social communication and emotional regulation have focused primarily on measuring emotional regulation in individuals with ASD. Methods A comprehensive search of PubMed, PsychInfo, CINHAL, Cochrane Library, and ComDisDom was conducted using the search terms (1) ASD or autism or Autism Spectrum disorder or Pervasive developmental disorder or Aspergers (2) self regulation or emotion regulation or attention regulation or sensory regulation or sensory processing (3) therapy or treatment or program or management or intervention. 283 articles were found using these databases, and 5 were eligible for review after abstract and full text reviews were conducted for relevance to social communication outcomes. Studies were excluded if the intervention did not primarily focus on self-regulation and/or if results did not report on social communication outcomes. Each article was appraised for evidence quality using a form. Data extraction focused on the self-regulation intervention targets (i.e. emotion regulation, self-management of behavior) and the reported change on participant social communication behaviors and skills. Anticipated Results Results of the current systematic review revealed considerable variation in published reports on intervention strategies targeting emotional regulation in individuals with ASD that track social communication outcomes. The articles appraised in this review vary in terms of study design, sample size, and methods utilized to address target self regulation and social communication skills. The current review included four case series studies and one randomized control trial. Preliminary results suggest positive social communication outcomes for participants engaged in intervention programs targeting emotional regulation and self management of behaviors. Appraisal of intervention details, specific outcomes and quality of included studies will be further discussed. Discussion The suggested relationship between emotional/self regulation skills and social communication may have important implications on goal development and intervention strategies employed in support social communication development in individuals with ASD.