Research on the development of social skills

Data collection included a triangulation of methods in order to effectively address the four key research questions related to the development of social skills.
Interview questions focused on the exploration of parents and instructors perspectives regarding how students with autism develop social skills.
Initiation of data analysis integrated open coding format with line by line analysis unified with analytic memos.
RQ1. Parents identified opportunities provided by YESS engaged their student socially through the inclusion of various activities aided their student in social skill development.
RQ2. Instructors identified increases in interactions included eye contact, playing with peers and engaging appropriately in activities with others.
RQ3.Contributions to social skill development revealed consistency among instructors through processes and procedures. Instructors were observed demonstrating ideal social skills, continuous varying levels of interaction, modeling appropriate behavior choices and processes, consistency within the classroom relating to procedures, and team unity.
RQ4. Data identified development of interactions as the most common success for students participating in the YESS program. Interactions included engaging more with friends, interacting more with peers as well as adults, and the increased ability to adjust in various situations.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental
disorders(5thed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association
Berenguer, C., Miranda, A., Colomer, C., Baixauli, I., & Roselló, B. (2018). Contribution of
theory of mind, executive functioning, and pragmatics to socialization behaviors of
children with high-functioning autism.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders,
48(2), 430-441. doi:
Cowin, J. (2018). Is that appropriate?: Clarifying the IDEA’s free appropriate public education
standard post-endrewF.Northwestern University Law Review, 113(3), 587-628.
Retrieved from
Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods
approaches. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Doenyas, C. (2016). The social living complex: A new, all day, yearlong intervention model for
individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their parents.Journal of Autism and
Developmental Disorders, 46(9), 3037-3053.
Lai, M., Lombardo, M. V., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2014). Autism.The Lancet, 383(9920), 896-
910. doi:
Lichtman, M. (2013). Qualitative research in education: A user’s guide. Thousand Oaks,
California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Waugh, C., & Peskin, J. (2015). Improving the social skills of children with HFASD: An
intervention study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(9), 2961-2980.
Yin, R. K. (2014). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Thousand Oaks, California:
SAGE Incorporation.
RQ1. How do parents of children with autism describe the social skill development of their child during enrollment of an autistic support program, specifically the YESS program?
RQ2. How do YESS instructors of students with autism describe social skill development of their students during enrollment of an autistic support program, specifically the YESS program?
RQ3. What contributes to the successful social skill development of children with autism when participating in the YESS program?
RQ4. What successes do children with autism have in social skill development when participating in the YESS program?
Development of Social Skills for Students with Autism
Dr. Traci D. Shepherd

This study addressed the deficiencies in social skills and limited evidence-based social skill summer support programs for students identified with autism (Berengueret al., 2018).

This study defined autism as a developmental disability affecting social interaction, communication, and restricted repetitive idiosyncratic activities and behaviors causing impairment in social or other areas of functioning frequently co-occurring with intellectual disabilities.

Students with autism exhibit varying degrees of social skill abilities. Social skill deficiencies for students with autism affect academic development, post-secondary education, occupations, independent living, and their welfare in adult life (APA, 2013; Cowin, 2018).

Development of social skills requires greater structure and intentional programming for students with autism (Waugh & Peskin, 2015).

Students with autism need yearlong services and supports to advance social skills (Doenyas, 2016).

The YESS (Youth Education Summer Socialization) program is designed to assist students, ages 5-21, with autism in improving communication and socialization skill and retaining academic progress during a 10-week summer program (Creswell, 2014).

Through the implementation of a qualitative case study I was able to observe throughout the 10 week summer program, the processes established to aid social skill development within the YESS program.

Qualitative case study method and design provided a greater understanding of supports needed for social skill development by students with autism (Lai et al., 2014).

Using qualitative research provided the researcher with the opportunity to develop detailed descriptions of support and services that assisted social skill development for students with autism through the participation of YESS (Yin, 2014).

This research intended to identify what elements of the YESS program assisted in social skill development (Creswell, 2014; Lichtman, 2013).

YESS is one of several extension programs of a local agency which help individuals of all ages who have disabilities.

The 10 week summer program coordinates with the local school district to staff academic instructors while also providing a school building for the avenue.

The accessible population of this study included instructors of students with autism and parents of children with autism participating in the 2019 YESS program.

YESS instructors included special education teachers, para educators, and volunteers.

Interviews and observations were deemed necessary to increase understanding of social skill development throughout the participation of the YESS and secure a triangulation of data collection.

Interviews and observations elicited and investigated information regarding processes and procedures that facilitated social skill development of students with autism while participating in YESS (Creswell, 2014; Yin, 2014).

Data was analyzed and categorized using thematic analysis which identified perceived social skill developments of students with autism and processes used in the development of social skills by YESS instructors (Creswell, 2014; Yin, 2014).

In consideration of the existing research, collected data confers with the conceptual framework.

The conceptual framework consisted of Theory of Mind (ToM), Theory of Executive Function (EF), and Social Learning Theory.

The present study was initiated to explore the development of social skills among students with autism through the participation in the YESS program as described by parents of children, YESS instructors, and observations.

The findings suggested that YESS successfully aids the development of social skills for students with autism.

The current study was an exploratory study of the YESS program.

Initiation of preliminary steps into an entity that had never been investigated subsequently adding to the body of knowledge describing effective summer programs for students with autism.
The problem addressed in this study was the deficiencies in social skills for students with autism; specifically, there is limited evidence-based social skill support programs for students identified with autism to address social skill development.
The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the development of social skills among students with autism, through the participation in the YESS program as described by parents of children, YESS instructors, and observations (Creswell, 2014; Yin, 2014).
Social skills refers to the abilityof a student to engagein conversationas well as appropriatelyinteractingwith others in various situationswithout cueing from teachers, para educators, or parents (Gantmanet al., 2012)
Key term
Instructors definition
How you are able to
Coming together
Getting along with peers
Sharing ideas and thoughts
Communication: verbal and non-verbal
Appropriately interacting
Getting along with others
Dealing with others
Various situations
Daily basis
Navigating within the world
Emergence of Autism Experienced by Parent Participants
Initial Age Autism Observed
Age of Diagnosis
Dominant Autism Characteristic
Day 1
Stemming; Non-verbal
Down Syndrome; 3 heart defects
4 years
Different than others
Asperger; PTSD; Anger Issues
12-18 months
Did not specially identify
Multiple Health Issues
18 months
Poor eye contact; late to talk separates things
Echololalia; ADHD; OCD; Anxiety; Behavior Issues
Birth-12 months
Focused on ceiling fan; Need only communication
Low muscle tone; Plagiocephalism; Torticollis; Delayed Speech
16-20 months
Stacking objects; staring out window
Behavioral Aggression
Dr. Traci D. Shepherd
1311 Bobbie Street
Augusta, KS 67010
(316) 390-0041

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