Difficulties in social interactions are common for students with ASD and are, in fact, a core symptom area for the diagnosis (APA, 2013). Demands, as well comparison targets, vary for different settings, which underscores the importance of collecting information about social and relationship functioning across settings (i.e., home, school, community) with the help of input from different raters. Educational settings—the cafeteria, the playground, classrooms, and hallways—present multiple social demands that may overwhelm the student with ASD. Students may find themselves isolated, misunderstood, frustrated, anxious, or depressed. Unfortunately, others may perceive their social difficulties and differences as an indication that they are rude, willful, awkward, or oppositional. As these students transition (i.e., between classes/environments, from school-to-school, from high school), social differences present various challenges. Such challenges may present long-term barriers to successful employment, leisure, or relationship pursuits. Because of the pervasive impact of social difficulties and differences, addressing social skills and social understanding is a critical part of the educational curriculum for all students with ASD.
It is important to have a benchmark of the social skills and social understanding of individuals with autism spectrum disorder in order to provide targeted interventions. Instruments designed specifically for this purpose are reviewed in this section. Common and useful approaches for collecting data in this domain include direct observation in natural settings, as well as rating scales completed by parents, teachers, and others who know students well, and, for older, high-functioning children with ASD, self-report offers critical information, as well.
Included within this section of the TARGET is summary information about the following assessments for social and relationship skills:
- Assessment of Social and Communication Skills for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder- Revised (ASCS-2) (formerly known as the Social Skills Checklist)
- Autism Social Skills Profile- Second Edition (ASSP-2)
- Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scales- Second Edition (PKBS-2)
- Profile Of Social Difficulty (POSD)
- Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scales (SSIS) (formerly known as the Social Skills Rating System/SSRS)
The following summary of social and relationship assessments is not intended to be all-inclusive. Rather, the assessments were selected based on their prevalence within clinical and academic settings as well as their relevance to children with ASD.