Autism Spectrum Disorder (autism) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social skills differences which can interfere with success in developing or maintaining relationships. Social skills training may promote more satisfying change in social interactions for individuals with autism, especially if they already have age-appropriate cognitive and language abilities. Social skills training is a typical approach for addressing social skills needs for many individuals with autism. In some instances, in-person social skills training or groups may not be readily available because of geographical, transportation, or other barriers. Delivering social skills training online is one way to increase access to intervention for individuals without feasible access to in-person social skills groups. However, very little is known about the untapped potential for interactive online social skills groups to provide similar benefits to in-person groups. We conducted a study delivering the same curriculum (UCLA PEERS®) in two modalities -- in person (per the manual) and online (same curriculum, delivered in a live interactive online teleconference environment). Pre- and post-intervention parent report measures were used to assess autism symptoms and social skills were compared across groups. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to identify any significant differences between the two groups. Under analysis, the interaction term indicated no significant differential change over time according to group membership (time by group). This indicates that there were no statistically significant differences between online and in-person groups with the single exception of one subtest score, the detrimental behavior subscale. There were many main effects for time in both groups which indicates positive social improvements over time occurred in both in-person and online groups, primarily with similar trajectories. Our objective is to provide evidence that the outcomes of both modalities were not significantly different. The results indicate that this is generally the case according to our study. It is interesting to note that while students were satisfied with the social validity of either delivery modality, parents were generally more satisfied with the online delivery of social skills.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





online, autism, social skills, PEERS®, telehealth



Included in

Counseling Commons