All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Fred J Biasini

Advisory Committee Members

Kristi C Guest

Scott Snyder

Laura Stoppelbein

Martha Wingate

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2015

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

The social status and social relationships of preschool children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) were assessed as developmentally relevant outcomes of a social skills intervention with a large peer-training component. Changes in teacher-reported behavior problems were also measured and used to predict social status before, immediately after, and twelve weeks after the social skills intervention. Patterns of children’s social associations were measured utilizing child- and teacher-report. Additional steps were taken to establish test-retest reliability for the sociometric measures used in this study in order to contribute to the psychometric literature focused on the social functioning of young children with ASD. Results indicate that children with ASD generally experience more internalizing and externalizing behavior problems than their typically developing peers. Children with ASD that participated in the social skills intervention did experience significant improvements in their social status, which lends support to the intervention. Teachers rated children with ASD to be lower in popularity and to have fewer reciprocal playmate relationships, even after the intervention took place. Few significant long-term effects were found. Overall, results from this study seem to suggest that the children with ASD require continued and intensive support in building appropriate social relationships and developing social competence throughout the preschool years.

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