Course Introduction

We know that our young friends with autism invariably struggle with aspects of social communication, even when their speech and overall language skills are strong. As the communication experts on our treatment teams, we’re often (and rightfully!) involved in addressing these needs— although depending on your setting, autism specialists, teachers, social workers, or others may be in on the action too. In our experience, social skills therapy is an area where evidence-based, structured intervention is easy to let slip. Get some kids together, pull out a game… instant “social skills group,” right? Not so fast. We owe it to everyone involved to put as much thought, planning, and technique into social skills instruction as we would into artic therapy, grammar, AAC, or any other type of goal we address.

But what models of intervention should we be using for social skills? Are we—the clinicians—the best people to intervene, or is it better to recruit others (Parents? Siblings? Paras? Peers?) and move outside of the therapy room? Is exposure to peers enough, or is direct teaching needed? What skills do we need to focus on, anyway? How should sessions be structured? Are there programs we can follow without reinventing the wheel? How can we get skills to generalize to other partners, activities, and settings?

We’ve collected 13 reviews of recent journal articles to help you navigate some of these questions. The first two reviews (of Locke et al., 2017 and Wallace et al., 2016) provide some background information on differences in social skills and outcomes in young people with ASD, as related to age and other factors. After that, you will read 11 reviews of intervention studies, six of which focus on younger children, and five on adolescents and young adults. No matter what age group you serve or what setting you practice in, you’ll find a treatment model to consider. And even if you can’t put one of these exact programs into place, notice the “active ingredients” that effective therapy models include and think of how you could improve on your current practices.

Learning Outcomes & Details

As a result of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. List predictors of social success in children with autism.

  2. List at least six evidence-based communication intervention strategies for children with autism.

  3. Describe what an “active ingredient” of intervention is.

Course Type: Text; Web or downloadable PDF

Time: This is an hour course.

ASHA CEUs: This course is offered for .1 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area)

Course Completion Requirements: Read the full course, then take a quiz at the end. Must pass with a score of 80% or better (two attempts allowed).


Questions? See our frequently asked questions.


Course edited and compiled by:

Meredith Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP is owner of The Informed SLP and faculty at Rockhurst University. Financial Disclosure— receives salary from The Informed SLP and Rockhurst University. Nonfinancial Disclosure— Vice President of Speech–Language Pathology for the Kansas Speech–Language–Hearing Association Board; Board member of the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association Committee on Clinical Research, Implementation Science, and Evidence-Based Practice.

Karen Evans, MA, CCC-SLP is a speech–language pathologist at Intermediate District 287, and employee of The Informed SLP. Financial Disclosure— receives salary from Intermediate District 287 and The Informed SLP. Nonfinancial Disclosure— None.

Full research and writing team bios can be found here. The Informed SLP’s researchers and writers are prohibited from having any financial or nonfinancial conflicts of interest related to the content they research and report on.

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This course is offered for .1 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area).