Kirstin Greaves-Lord


2 Development and Preliminary Testing of the Dutch Version of the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills

Authors: Sakinah Idris, Gabrine Jagersma, Bjorn Jaime Van Pelt, Kirstin Greaves-Lord


Background: The PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) intervention can be considered a well-established, evidence-based intervention in the USA. However, testing the efficacy of cultural adaptations of PEERS is still ongoing. More and more, the involvement of all stakeholders in the development and evaluation of interventions is acknowledged as crucial for the longer term implementation of interventions across settings. Therefore, in the current project, teens with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), their neurotypical peers, parents, teachers, as well as clinicians were involved in the development and evaluation of the Dutch version of PEERS. Objectives: The current presentation covers (1) the formative phase and (2) the preliminary adaptation test phase of the cultural adaptation of evidence-based interventions. In the formative phase, we aim to describe the process of adaptation of the PEERS program to the Dutch culture and care system. In the preliminary adaptation phase, we will present results from the preliminary adaptation test among 32 adolescents with ASD. Methods: In phase 1, a group discussion on common vocabulary was conducted among 70 teenagers (and their teachers) from special and regular education aged 12-18 years old. This inventory concerned 14 key constructs from PEERS, e.g., areas of interests, locations for making friends, common peer groups and crowds inside and outside of school, activities with friends, commonly used ways for electronic communication, ways for handling disagreements, and common teasing comebacks. Also, 15 clinicians were involved in the translation and cultural adaptation process. The translation and cultural adaptation process were guided by the research team, and who included input and feedback from all stakeholders through an iterative feedback incorporation procedure. In phase 2, The parent-reported Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), the Test of Adolescent Social Skills Knowledge (TASSK), and the Quality of Socialization Questionnaire (QSQ) were assessed pre- and post-intervention to evaluate potential treatment outcome. Results: The most striking cultural adaptation - reflecting the standpoints of all stakeholders - concerned the strategies for handling rumors and gossip, which were suggested to be taught using a similar approach as the teasing comebacks, more in line with ‘down-to-earth’ Dutch standards. The preliminary testing of this adapted version indicated that the adolescents with ASD significantly improved their social knowledge (TASSK; t₃₁ = -10.9, p < .01), social experience (QSQ-Parent; t₃₁ = -4.2, p < .01 and QSQ-Adolescent; t₃₂ = -3.8, p < .01), and in parent-reported social responsiveness (SRS; t₃₃ = 3.9, p < .01). In addition, subjective evaluations of teens with ASD, their parents and clinicians were positive. Conclusions: In order to further scrutinize the effectiveness of the Dutch version of the PEERS intervention, we recommended performing a larger scale randomized control trial (RCT) design, for which we provide several methodological considerations.

Keywords: Translation, peers, cultural adaptation, preliminary testing

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1 Development and Psychometric Properties of the Dutch Contextual Assessment of Social Skills: A Blinded Observational Outcome Measure of Social Skills for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Authors: Sakinah Idris, Femke Ten Hoeve, Kirstin Greaves-Lord


Background: Social skills interventions are considered to be efficacious if social skills are improved as a result of an intervention. Nevertheless, the objective assessment of social skills is hindered by a lack of sensitive and validated measures. To measure the change in social skills after an intervention, questionnaires reported by parents, clinicians and/or teachers are commonly used. Observations are the most ecologically valid method of assessing improvements in social skills after an intervention. For this purpose, The Program for the Educational and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) was developed for adolescents, in order to teach them the age-appropriate skills needed to participate in society. It is an evidence-based intervention for adolescents with ASD that taught ecologically valid social skills techniques. Objectives: The current study aims to describe the development and psychometric evaluation of the Dutch Contextual Assessment of Social Skills (CASS), an observational outcome measure of social skills for adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Methods: 64 adolescents (M = 14.68, SD = 1.41, 71% boys) with ASD performed the CASS before and after a social skills intervention (i.e. PEERS or the active control condition). Each adolescent completed a 3-minute conversation with a confederate. The conversation was prompt as a natural introduction between two-unfamiliar, similar ages, opposite-sex peers who meet for the first time. The adolescent and the confederate completed a brief questionnaire about the conversation (Conversation Rating Scale). Results: Results indicated sufficient psychometric properties. The Dutch CASS has a high level of internal consistency (Cronbach's α coefficients = 0.84). Data supported the convergent validity (i.e., significant correlated with the Social Skills Improvement System (SSiS). The Dutch CASS did not significantly correlate with the autistic mannerism subscale from Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), thus proved the divergent validity. Based on scorings made by raters who were kept blind to the time points, reliable change index was computed to assess the change in social skills. With regard to the content validity, only the learning objectives of the first two meetings of PEERS about conversational skills relatively matched with rating domains of the CASS. Due to this underrepresentation, we found an existing observational measure (TOPICC) that covers some of the other learning objectives of PEERS. TOPICC covers 22% of the learning objectives of PEERS about conversational skills, meanwhile, CASS is 45%. Unfortunately, 33% of the learning objectives of PEERS was not covered by CASS or TOPICC. Conclusion: Recommendations are made to improve the psychometric properties and content validity of the Dutch CASS.

Keywords: Observational, Social Skills, Autism spectrum disorder, peers

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