The Facilitation of Social-Emotional Understanding and Social Interaction in High-Functioning Children with Autism: Intervention Outcomes

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    This study evaluated the effectiveness of a 7-month cognitive behavioral intervention for the facilitation of the social-emotional understanding and social interaction of 15 high-functioning children (8 to 17 years old) with autism. Intervention focused on teaching interpersonal problem solving, affective knowledge, and social interaction. Preintervention and postintervention measures included observations of social interaction, measures of problem solving and of emotion understanding, and teacher-rated social skills. Results demonstrated progress in three areas of intervention. Children were more likely to initiate positive social interaction with peers after treatment; in particular, they improved eye contact and their ability to share experiences with peers and to show interest in peers. In problem solving after treatment, children provided more relevant solutions and fewer nonsocial solutions to different social situations. In emotional knowledge, after treatment, children provided more examples of complex emotions, supplied more specific rather then general examples, and included an audience more often in the different emotions. Children also obtained higher teacher-rated social skills scores in assertion and cooperation after treatment. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of the effectiveness of the current model of intervention for high-functioning children with autism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)283-298
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Aug 2002

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This research was supported by a grant from the Israel Foundation Trustees. Special thanks are extended to Limor Cohen for coordinating the project and to Shula Friedrich for her support in the project. My gratitude is also extended to the children and families, school principals, and teachers who participated in the study and made this intervention possible. The author would like to express her appreciation to Connie Kasari for her comments on this paper and to Dee B. Ankonina for her editorial contribution.


    • Affective education
    • Cognitive-behavioral intervention
    • High-functioning autism
    • Social interaction
    • Social problem solving
    • Social-emotional understanding


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