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Improving social skills of young adults with autism

Published June 2017

Download the full evidence summary PDF: Autism and social skills

 PLEASE NOTE: This summary was produced more than 4 years ago. Information provided may be out of date. If you think it would be helpful to update this summary please contact us at pencru@exeter.ac.uk

What were we asked?

A parent of a young adult with autism asked us to look at the evidence for interventions that support young adults with autism to interact with others and make friends independently. 


Key findings

  • Group social skills training and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) may improve social skills of young adults with autism - more rigorous trials are needed to confirm improvements suggested by parents in published trials.
  • There is little evidence for the effectiveness of CBT for reducing social anxiety in young adults, but there is some evidence to support the use of CBT with younger children with autism and anxiety.
  • NICE guidelines recommend both social skills training for young adults with autism, and an adapted version of CBT for young adults with autism and anxiety. 
Note: This information is produced by PenCRU researchers and reviewed by external experts. The views expressed are those of PenCRU at the University of Exeter Medical School and do not represent the views of the Cerebra charity, or any other parties mentioned. We strongly recommend seeking medical advice before undertaking any treatments/therapies.