A multi-component social skills intervention for children with Asperger syndrome: The Junior Detective Training Program



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Errata Volume 49, Issue 8, 895, Article first published online: 28 July 2008

  • Conflict of interest statement: Renae Beaumont, as the developer of The Junior Detective Training Program, is in the process of having the program made ready for dissemination.

Kate Sofronoff, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Tel: +61 7 33656411; Fax: +61 7 3365 4466; Email: kate@psy.uq.edu.au


Background:  The study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a new multi-component social skills intervention for children with Asperger syndrome (AS): The Junior Detective Training Program. This 7-week program included a computer game, small group sessions, parent training sessions and teacher handouts.

Method:  Forty-nine children with AS were recruited to participate and randomly assigned to intervention (= 26) or wait-list control (= 23) conditions.

Results:  Relative to children in the wait-list group, program participants showed greater improvements in social skills over the course of the intervention, as indicated by parent-report measures. Teacher-report data also confirmed that children receiving the intervention made significant improvements in social functioning from pre- to post-treatment. Treatment group participants were better able to suggest appropriate emotion-management strategies for story characters at post-intervention than at pre-intervention, whereas control participants were not. However, there was no difference in the improvements made by children in the intervention and control conditions on facial expression and body-posture recognition measures. Follow-up data suggested that treatment gains were maintained by children at 5-months post-intervention.

Conclusions:  The Junior Detective Training Program appeared to be effective in enhancing the social skills and emotional understanding of children with AS. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.