Investigating Social Competence in Youth With Autism

Purpose

Our treatment, SENSE Theatre, combines several well-documented, effective behavioral strategies and theatre techniques. The proposed project will extend previous findings showing improving improvement in memory for faces. The multisite randomized control trial will include a large sample of 240 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) randomly assigned to the experimental (SENSE Theatre) or an active control condition (Tackling Teenage Together).

Condition

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

Eligibility

Eligible Ages
Between 8 Years and 16 Years
Eligible Genders
All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers
No

Inclusion Criteria

  • Children with high-functioning ASD (IQ > or = to 70).

Exclusion Criteria

  • Children who evidence aggression toward other people.

Study Design

Phase
N/A
Study Type
Interventional
Allocation
Randomized
Intervention Model
Parallel Assignment
Primary Purpose
Treatment
Masking
Single (Outcomes Assessor)

Arm Groups

ArmDescriptionAssigned Intervention
Experimental
SENSE Theatre
SENSE Theatre is a peer-mediated, theatre-based intervention targeting social competence in youth with autism spectrum disorder. The 40 hour intervention is comprised of 10 sessions in which trained typically peers are paired with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  • Behavioral: SENSE Theatre
    SENSE Theatre is a peer-mediated, theatre-based intervention targeting social competence in youth with autism spectrum disorder. The 40 hour intervention is comprised of 10 sessions in which trained typically peers are paired with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Active Comparator
Tackling Teenage Together
The Tackling Teenage Together is a psychosocial and sexual education program developed for youth with ASD. It is comprised of 10 sessions.
  • Behavioral: Tackling Teenage Together
    The Tackling Teenage Together is a psychosocial and sexual education program developed for youth with ASD. It is comprised of 10 sessions.

Recruiting Locations

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, Tennessee 37203

More Details

Status
Recruiting
Sponsor
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Study Contact

Blythe A Corbett, Ph.D.
615-936-0280
blythe.corbett@vanderbilt.edu

Detailed Description

Recent findings from a randomized control trial (RCT) show immediate between-group effects and evidence of target engagement on the hypothesized mechanism of action, memory for faces, which was evaluated by neuropsychological and event-related potential (ERP) measures. Moreover, the RCT demonstrated treatment effects on social communication skills that generalized to home and community settings. Finally, maintained treatment effects were observed on communication symptoms. The proposed project will extend these findings and provide a stronger test of efficacy using a multisite RCT of SENSE Theatre with a large sample of participants with ASD (8 to 16 years) randomized to an experimental and an active control group. The RCT will assess target engagement of memory for faces and functional change in social interaction with peers. Thus, the overarching aim of the study is to determine whether detected changes in face memory and social interaction are due to the SENSE Theatre treatment and the extent to which these changes generalize and maintain. If predicted results occur, it will provide strong empirical support for a community-based treatment that has generalized effects on a set of core deficits that otherwise have life-long consequences for children and adolescents with ASD. 8/18/2021: Record was updated to delete the outcome measure "Computer memory for faces" as it was not included as a primary outcome variable in the IRB approved protocol dated 9/13/2017.