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Randomized Clinical Trial Replication of a Psychosocial Treatment for Children with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders


  • The research reported in this article was supported by a grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation. Findings and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agency.

Correspondence to: Marcus L. Thomeer, Institute for Autism Research, Canisius College, Science Hall 1016D, 2001 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14208. E-mail:


This replication randomized clinical trial examined the efficacy of a comprehensive psychosocial intervention for children aged 7 to 12 years with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASDs). Participants were randomly assigned to treatment or wait-list conditions. Treatment included instruction and therapeutic activities targeting social skills, face-emotion recognition, interest expansion, and interpretation of non-literal language. A response-cost program was used to reduce problem behaviors and increase skills acquisition. Significant treatment effects were found for five of seven primary outcome measures (parent ratings and direct child measures). Secondary measures (i.e., staff ratings) corroborated gains reported by parents. Children maintained social gains 2 to 3 months post-treatment. High levels of parent, child, and staff satisfaction were found, along with high levels of treatment fidelity. Standardized effect size estimates were predominantly in the medium and large ranges for significant outcome variables.