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Examining School-Based Social Skills Program Needs and Barriers for Students with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders Using Participatory Action Research


  • The authors of this article acknowledge Autism Speaks Family Community Grants as the funding agency for the project leading to this publication. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily express or reflect the views of Autism Speaks or any other funding agency.

Correspondence to: Katrina Ostmeyer, Dept. of Psychology (0436), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061. E-mail:


Participatory action research (PAR) is a method used to develop interventions with the direct input of stakeholders. Social skills are a core deficit of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) that can affect academic performance and other areas of well-being, yet empirically supported services are not always available. The current study examined data collected using PAR for the purpose of informing development of a school-based social skills program for children with HFASD. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected during focus groups with school staff (n = 14) and parents (n = 2) of children with HFASD and observations of children with HFASD (n = 2) in a full-inclusion elementary classroom. Results showed that both quantitative and qualitative data yielded helpful and unique forms of information as the first step of PAR, documenting the need for social skills interventions and barriers to implementation.