The effects of creative drama-based intervention for children with deficits in social perception

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Guli, Laura Ann

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This study explored the effects of the Social Competence Intervention Program, a unique intervention based on creative drama. Unlike traditional social skills interventions, this program specifically addressed the needs of children with social perception deficits. The sample included children with diagnoses of Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD), Asperger Syndrome, high functioning autism (HFA) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Participants were compared to nonparticipants on various measures of social perception and social competence, including the Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy (DANVA2) child faces and paralanguage subtests, the BASC parent questionnaire withdrawal and social skills scales, and behavioral observations. Qualitative data were also collected through child interview, parent interview and group leader journals. Quantitative results approached significance at the p < .05 level for DANVA2 child faces subtest and behavioral observations. Post-intervention, the treatment group was observed to have significantly less solitary behaviors and significantly more positive interactions than the clinical control group. According to parent and child participant interviews, 75% of participants reported one or more positive effect in social competence as a result of participation. In addition, results suggested that the intervention was less successful for children who had a diagnosis of ADHD alone. Parent and participant suggestions for improvement include increased parent participation, more structured behavioral management and lengthening the program. Recommendations for future research include the replication of this or similar studies with greater sample size and/or the use of single-participant design, the collection of follow-up data and additional exploration into the nature of social perception deficits for these populations. Implications for school psychology theory, research and practice are discussed.