Evidence Based Social Skills Interventions for Young Children with Asperger’s Syndrome and the Montessori Educational Method: An Integrative Review

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Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
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Asperger's Syndrome
evidence-based practice
Montessori Method
preschool children
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Social Work
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Fulton, Jennifer A.

Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a medically recognized disorder on the Autism Spectrum. One in 88 children age eight are diagnosed with AS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2014). A key feature of AS is a deficiency in social skills. In the past ten years five main types of social skills interventions have been researched for their impact on young children with AS. Data suggest these treatments help children with AS acquire social skills. More research is needed on the types of learning environments that incorporate or lend themselves to utilizing these types of social skills interventions. One potential model, the Montessori Method of education was initially designed to teach children with significant developmental, social, and educational disabilities, with an intentional focus on individualized learning and socialization. To date, the potential overlap between empirically supported interventions to teach social skills to children with AS and the Montessori Method of education has not been researched. A comprehensive literature review was conducted to compare five researched interventions for social skill acquisition in children with AS with the Montessori Method of education. Findings suggest that of these five interventions, three bear significant resemblance to the Montessori Method of education while the other two do not. Implications and recommendations for parents, teachers, educational administrators, and social workers and other mental health practitioners who assist children with AS are provided.

Lani Nelson-Zlupko PhD
Frances Rust PhD
Jennifer Plumb DSW
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