Establishing Predictors of Outcomes of the Social Competence Intervention for Adolescents (SCI-A)

Friday, May 15, 2015: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Imperial Ballroom (Grand America Hotel)
R. M. O'Donnell1 and J. Stichter2, (1)Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, (2)Special Education, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

Education research emphasizes the importance of teaching both academic content as well as social and emotional competence (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, 2005). Social emotional competence can be particularly important for children with social learning deficits, such as individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). However, this population usually requires more in-depth or targeted instruction, as they lack necessary foundational skills (Arick et al., 2005; Rao et al., 2008). Interventions targeting social competence for individuals with High Functioning Autism may be especially important. While their level of cognitive functioning suggests an ability to live independently and maintain employment, deficits in social competence for adults with HFA have been associated with low quality of life (Howlin, 2000; Howlin, Goode, Hutton, & Rutter, 2004) and job failure (Barnard, Harvey, Potter, & Prior, 2001).

While initial investigations of social competence interventions for children with HFA are promising (Bauminger, 2002, 2007; Lopata, Thomeer, Volker, Nida, & Lee, 2008; Schmidt, Laffey, & Stichter, 2011; Solomon, Goodlin-Jones, & Anders, 2004; Stichter et al., 2010; Stichter, O’Connor, Herzog, Lierheimer, & McGhee, 2012), response rates vary within and across interventions. Individual characteristics that predict varying levels of response remain unexplored. Understanding the characteristics of those who respond best may improve the practical applications of these interventions.


The goal of the current study is to explore individual factors that predict responsivity to the Social Competence Intervention for Adolescents (SCI-A) curriculum as developed by Stichter et al. (2010; 2014). Two areas identified as possible predictors of social-competence gains include cognitive abilities and executive function. Because SCI-A takes a cognitive behavioral approach, IQ should be explored as a predictor of outcomes, as children’s cognitive abilities may play a role in the success of cognitive behavioral interventions (Solomon et al., 2004; Taylor, Lindsay, & Willner, 2008). Additionally executive function has been linked to core deficits of HFA that impact social competence (Buitelaar et al., 1999; Fisher & Happé, 2005; Hughes, 2011).


Data for the proposed research was pulled from a larger study. 52 adolescent students with HFA (and related social difficulties) who received SCI-A were included in the study.

SCI-A includes scaffolded content covering: recognizing and reading facial expressions, sharing ideas, turn-taking in conversation, recognizing feelings and emotions in self and others, and problem solving.

IQ was measured using either the WISC-IV or the WASI prior to the intervention. Outcomes were measured using the: Social Responsiveness Scale, Social Problem Solving Inventory—Revised, Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System, Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, and Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment—Second Edition. 

Proposed analyses will include simple regressions as well as multiple regressions to build prediction models.


Initial results identified several potential predictors when exploring a sub-sample of the data. The proposed research will serve to replicate and extend those results.


The results from the proposed research will help further develop SCI-A, and serve as a model for the development and modification of other interventions.