Evaluating Change in Social Skills in High-Functioning Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder Using a Laboratory-Based Observational Measure
White, Susan W.
Conner, Caitlin M.
Maddox, Brenda B.
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Despite the impact of social disability on the lives of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), we know little about how to assess clinical improvement in this domain. This is a preliminary study of the potential utility and sensitivity of a novel observational rating system, the Contextual Assessment of Social Skills (CASS), as a treatment outcome measure with cognitively unimpaired adults with ASD. Five cognitively unimpaired adults with ASD completed the CASS, before and after a group social skills intervention. Based on ratings made by evaluators masked to assessment (pre-treatment or post-treatment), reliable change indices were computed to assess improvement. Four participants demonstrated significant improvement in conversational involvement, two initiated significantly more topic changes, and one asked more questions. Laboratory-based observational measures, such as the CASS, may be useful in clinical trials for adults with ASD, though further evaluation with larger samples is required.