Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > A Pilot Study of Social Cognition Training for Adults with High-Functioning Autism

Background: Difficulty with social interaction is universal in autism spectrum disorders and often constitutes the most debilitating feature of these conditions. Impaired social cognition (i.e., perceiving the emotions and intentions of others) makes it difficult to establish friendships and form positive social relationships, and is particularly incapacitating for adults with autism who must navigate the world unaided by parents. Objectives: The goal of this study was to examine the feasibility of a group-based cognitive behavioral intervention to improve social-cognitive functioning in adults with high-functioning autism (HFA). Methods: We modified the treatment manual of a previously validated form of group-based intervention, Social Cognition and Interaction Training (SCIT), for optimal use with HFA adults. We then conducted a pilot study to compare SCIT for autism (N=6) to treatment as usual (TAU) (N=4). Results: High levels of attendance and overwhelmingly positive satisfaction reports supported the feasibility of SCIT with this population. Participants in SCIT showed larger improvements in theory of mind skills and emotion identification skills when compared with individuals in the TAU condition. Conclusions: Findings indicate SCIT is an intervention program with promise for use with adults who have HFA. More research is needed to clarify the role of SCIT in improving social functioning for individuals with HFA beyond research settings.