The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a program containing a combination of social skills training (SST) and parenting training (PT) for the enrichment of social interaction skills and reduction of parenting stress for children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) and their parents in Japan. Twenty-two patients with HFASD from second to fourth grade and their parents were assigned to a training group (TG) or treatment as usual (TAU) and compared. The children with HFASD and their parents who were assigned to the TG participated in the manualized program for over a period of five to six months. Subjects provided demographic and medical information and completed teacher and parent-rating scales for social competence (Social Responsiveness Scale-2: SRS-2) and parent-rating of parenting stress (Parental Stress Index: PSI) and mental health (General Health Questionnaire-28: GHQ-28). The participants exhibited some improvements pre-, middle-, and post-treatment, particularly regarding the GHQ, PSI and SRS-2, as reported by parents. However, the social skills improvement reported by teachers was not significant. At the three-month follow-up, parent-rated GHQ and PSI maintained improvement, and SRS-2 achieved the greatest improvement from the baseline rating. Although some findings indicate that a program combination of SST and PT might be useful for enhancing social skills and improving parental stress and mental health, some subscales did not show a sufficient effect. Future research should consider program contents and provide longitudinal follow-up data to test the durability of the treatment.
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