Social skills training for children with autism spectrum conditions

Genotype and behavioral effects of social skills training in children and adolescents with autism spectrum conditions: an RCT, multicentre study

Evidence-based therapies for children and adolescents with high functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and psychiatric co-morbidity is very limited in Sweden as well as internationally. In order to increase access to evidence-based methods for ASD an RCT multicentre study in cooperation between Child and adolescent Mental Health Services in Stockholm Country (CMHS, BUP in Swedish) and Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at Karolinska Institute (KIND) has been initiated. 10 CMHS clinics are participating. The head responsible for the project is Professor Sven Bölte at KIND and project leader is Nora Choque Olsson, graduate student at KIND.

The main objective of this study is to investigate the behavioral effect of social skills training, KONTAKT (efficacy and effectiveness), and the role of genetic variants for training/group treatment in children and adolescents with high-functioning ASD. The participants in this study are children and adolescents with high functioning ASD and psychiatric comorbidity such as: ADHD, anxiety or depression, between 8 -17 years old. The project is based on a previous pilot study showing promising results (Herbrecht, Bölte & Poustka, 2009), verified by a pilot at BUP in Södertälje 2011.

KONTAKT is a manual-based social skills group training for children with high functioning ASD. The program is based on behavioral targeting principles and is based on the children selected problem behaviors, knowledge of social cognition and cooperation with both parents and teachers. The group treatment includes exercises in social skills as well as discussions of social cognition, social interaction, self-reflection and description of themselves and others. The children are training to make contact, to understand and follow social rules, to become aware of themselves and others, to perceive verbal and nonverbal signals in a communication, to develop problem solving skills and coping strategies to manage conflict and to enhance their self-confidence. Intervention includes 12 (brief intervention, 3 months) and 24 (long intervention, 6 months) meetings for children and youth as well as 3 and 6 meetings with parents. Each session includes about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Each group consists of 8 children/adolescents with two group leaders.

The following clinics are participating in the study: BUP Brommaplan, BUP Danderyd, BUP Jakobsberg, BUP Mellanvården NO, BUP Sollentuna, BUP Solna, BUP Södertälje, BUP Täby, BUP Mellanvården SV and BUP Skärholmen. The KIND-research clinic is also going to participate in this project.



Contact us:



Sven Bölte

K6 Department of Women's and Children's Health

Anna Fridell


Department:K6 Department of Women's and Children's Health

Christina Coco

Affiliated to research
K6 Department of Women's and Children's Health

Nora Choque-Olsson

Postdoctoral studies
K8 Department of Clinical Neuroscience