Social skills interventions for Thai adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): a qualitative study of the perceptions and experiences of Thai adolescents, their caregivers and healthcare professionals

Nadlada Tawankanjanachot*, Maria Truesdale, Pornpun Orachon, Lisa Kidd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Social skills interventions (SSIs) are effective for enhancing social skills and decreasing mental health problems in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, these interventions have been designed and their effectiveness has been established in Western countries. Lack of culturally acceptable SSIs for Asian nations is a possible barrier to implementing effective and tailored interventions that address the unique requirements of ASD individuals across countries and cultures. This study aims to explore the needs and preferences of adolescents with ASD, their caregivers, and healthcare professionals (HPs) in Thailand regarding the components, delivery formats, and cultural adaptation required for an outpatient-based social skills intervention. Methods: Qualitative data was collected via three focus groups of HPs (n = 20) and 24 paired interviews with adolescents with ASD and their caregivers from a child psychiatric hospital in Thailand. Purposive sampling was employed, and thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Results: Nine themes emerged from the data generated by HPs, and seven from adolescents with ASD and their caregivers. SSIs for Thai adolescents with ASD and their caregivers should emphasise specific social skills training and assess the abilities of adolescents as required. Incorporating various learning strategies is important. Parental involvement is essential and provides knowledge of an adolescent’s symptoms and coaching skills, which are best used to support their adolescents. Cultural considerations include the need for social knowledge of Thai culture, promoting assertiveness and praising parents’ abilities, implementing a programme in time to not interrupt academic achievement, and renaming a programme from social skills intervention to social communication intervention. Barriers to implementing a programme included HPs’ need for specialised training and education and decreased workload. Also, the caregivers’ and adolescents’ stigma reduced attendance in a programme. Increased extra compensation and relocation days off are provided as policy support for staff who deliver the intervention. Conclusion: The results suggest that SSIs for Thai adolescents with ASD should be tailored to meet the needs for specific knowledge, skills, and parental collaboration as coaches for their adolescents. Additionally, it should incorporate Thai culture. It is necessary to consider staff knowledge, workload, and stigma in order to reduce barriers to implementation in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Volume18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Adolescents with autism spectrum disorder
  • Caregivers
  • Experiences
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Qualitative research
  • Social skills intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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