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Experts in Social Skills Interventions for People with ASD

This article is an excerpt (pages 31-33) from a full report published by Autism Ontario in 2011: SOCIAL MATTERS: Improving Social Skills Interventions for Ontarians with ASD. Click here to view the full report: http://www.autismontario.com/Client/ASO/AO.nsf/object/SocialMatters/$file/Social+Matters.pdf


Information is provided below on seven of the best-known experts on social skills interventions for persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). All of these experts were referenced in the Professional and Parent Surveys. This information is provided as a resource to parents, educators and professionals seeking materials for teaching social skills to their children, students and clients.

Expert’s Name


Social Skills Contributions to the ASD Community

Important Publications/Resources Written by the Expert*

Tony Attwood

Dr. Attwood is a clinical practitioner who supports children and adults with AS, an international lecturer, and an adjunct associate professor and supervisor to post-graduate clinical students at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Dr. Attwood’s work is focused on improving individuals’ social understanding, managing anxiety and anger, strategies for reducing bullying and teasing, helping children understand and cope with being different, as well as educating and training caregivers in increasing the quality of life for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Dr. Attwood has also been highly involved in academia and clinical practice focused on the use of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to decrease anxiety symptoms and manage anger in children with ASD.

Asperger’s Syndrome, Vol. 2 DVD Anger Management, Teaching Teachers, and Teenage Issues: Future Horizons Inc. (2003)

Exploring Feelings: Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Manage Anger: Future Horizons Inc. (2004)

Jed Baker

Dr. Baker is currently providing social skills training for students with ASD in Milburn Public Schools in New Jersey, as well as serving on the ASPEN professional advisory board and directing the Social Skills Training Project. As Director of the Social Skills Training Project, which uses a cognitive-behavioural approach to social skills training, his goals are:

To provide relevant social skill instruction that will generalize into daily routines.

To make socializing fun so that students want to socialize.

To help “typical” peers and professionals become more understanding, accepting, and engaging of those with social difficulties

No More Meltdowns, Future Horizons Inc. (2008) (Southwick)

Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communication Problems. Autism Asperger Publishing Co. (2003) (Smith Myles)

Fred Frankel and Elizabeth Laugeson

Dr. Frankel is the Director of the Parenting and Children’s Friendship Program at UCLA, in Los Angeles, California, which offers empirically-based parent training and social skills training to children and adolescents with ASD. Dr. Frankel has conducted research on parent training to decrease behavioural difficulties and increase social skills in children and adolescents with ASD. As well, he is the Principal Investigator of the Parent-Assisted Friendship Training in Autism project which focuses on increasing friendship skills in children with HFA who are included in typical elementary school classrooms from grades 2-5. In partnership with Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson (at UCLA),Frankel has adapted the Children’s Friendship program for a teenager population and called it PEERS – Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills. The parent component, which runs concurrent to training for both children and teens, addresses how parents can support their children in using what they learn in group to make and keep friends and to be accepted by those within their age group.

Children’s Friendship Training: Brunner-Routledge (2003)(Myatt)

Friends Forever: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Make and Keep Good Friends: Jossey-Bass (2010)(Frankel)

Social Skills for Teenagers with Developmental and Autism Spectrum Disorders- The PEERS Treatment Manual: Jossey-Bass (2010) (Laugeson & Frankel)


Carol Gray

Carol Gray is the Director of The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Carol Gray is best known for developing Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations, intervention tools which are used by parents and educators to share accurate social information to an individual with ASD in an easily understood manner with the intent to help the person understand not only what is expected behaviour in specific social situations, but why the behaviour is important and what difference it makes for future interactions. She has written numerous articles, books, resources, and chapters on the subject of increasing social skills in individuals with an ASD and has over 20 years of experience in working with students in this population in public schools as a teacher and consultant.

My Social Stories Book: Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2002)(White)

New Social Story Book- Revised and Expanded 10th Anniversary Edition: Future Horizons (2010)


Steven Gutstein

Dr. Gutstein developed and directs the Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) Program for ASD at his Centre in Houston, Texas. The RDI Program is described as “a tailored set of objectives, extending from the Family Guided Participation Program and intended to target the core deficits of individuals with the diagnostic distinction, Autism Spectrum Disorder. More specifically, the program operates as a comprehensive set of developmentally sequenced steps, committed to re-building the Guided Participation Relationship as the cornerstone for neural development. It also helps families construct opportunities for the child’s neural growth and support their children in forming reciprocal friendships, mature emotional relationships, engaging in flexible/adaptive thought and mastering problem-solving abilities necessary for job attainment and success in the modern world.

Relationship Development Intervention with Children, Adolescents and Adults: Social and Emotional Development Activities for Asperger Syndrome, Autism, PDD, NLD: Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2002)(Sheely)

Relationship Development Intervention with Young Children: Social and Emotional Development Activities for Asperger Syndrome, Autism, PDD and NLD: Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2002)(Sheely)

Brenda Smith Myles

Dr. Smith Myles is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas where she co-directs a graduate program in ASD. Dr. Smith Myles has sat on many advisory boards across North America involved in conducting applied research, providing direct services or education, raising awareness to caregivers and the community, and addressing mental health challenges associated with an ASD diagnosis.

Dr. Smith Myles is best known for her work on The Hidden Curriculum, in which she makes explicit the myriad of social rules and conventions that are not taught in schools and without which one cannot survive in the social world.

 Dr. Smith Myles has many publications and writes about topics including: managing anger and rage cycles, bullying, practical classroom strategies, social inclusion and the use of visual supports.

The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations: Autism Asperger Publishing Co. (2004)(Trautman & Schelvan)

Asperger Syndrome and Difficult Moments-Practical Solutions for Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns: Autism Asperger Publishing Co. (2005) (Southwick)

Michelle Garcia Winner

Michelle Winner is the director of the Social Thinking Centre based out of San Jose, California. Michelle Winner, Speech Language Pathologist and creator of Think Social Publishing, has developed a comprehensive Social Thinking curriculum and a myriad of resources to teach the kind of thinking that is foundational to learning social skills. Her ILAUGH model of social thinking assists teachers and parents in teaching concepts needed to process and react to social situations in order to succeed in solving social challenges. In their clinical work, Winner and her colleagues Pamela Crooke and Stephanie Madrigal work with small groups matched for age and social cognitive level to provide broaden social understanding and practise social skills within clinic and community settings.

Thinking About You, Thinking About Me: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd. (2003)

Madrigal, S. Superflex... A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum Madrigal & Winner (2008) (Note: This resource is not written by Winner, but is published through Think Publishing )

Socially Curious, Curiously Social Think Social Publishing (Crooke) (2011)




Keywords: Social Skills


This article is an excerpt (pages 31 to 33) from a full report published by Autism Ontario in 2011: SOCIAL MATTERS: Improving Social Skills Interventions for Ontarians with ASD. Click here to view the full report:



Disclaimer: This document reflects the views of the author. It is Autism Ontario’s intent to inform and educate. Every situation is unique and while we hope this information is useful, it should be used in the context of broader considerations for each person. Please contact Autism Ontario at info@autismontario.com or 416-246-9592 for permission to reproduce this material for any purpose other than personal use. © 2012 Autism Ontario  416.246.9592  www.autismontario.com.