I’ll keep this one short and simple; yes, they work. However, as usual, there’s a bit more to it than that.
Short and long-term
A social group program out of UCLA found that a social group for teenagers with autism proved to be successful not only for the short-term, but the gains were ongoing and generalized.
The power of peers
The social group was, however, was a bit different in that the leaders tended to role play and rehearse responses to social encounters that were socially acceptable from a teenager’s point of view. For example, if faced with teasing, most adults might suggest the teen ignore and walk away. However, fellow teens would likely be more inclined to give a short come-back such as “whatever” or something along those lines. It seems that the autistic teens were far more receptive to teen-oriented strategies, and more likely to use them into the future, and in other settings.
What do we take from this? Well, we know that rehearsal and role-play work well, and it works even better when in the company of peers, and when using appropriate and non-confrontational approaches approved by peers. Good to know. Now go and do those role-plays.
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