Impact of a Preventive Intervention on the Relationship Between Teachers and Adolescent Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Friday, May 15, 2015: 3:55 PM
Grand Ballroom B (Grand America Hotel)
J. Hopman1,2, N. Tick1,2, J. van der Ende2, P. van Lier3, T. Wubbels4, F. C. Verhulst2, L. Breeman1,2 and A. Maras1, (1)Yulius Academy, Yulius Mental Health Care, Barendrecht, Netherlands, (2)Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry/psychology, Erasmus MC - Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, Netherlands, (3)Department of Developmental Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdan, Netherlands, (4)Utrecht University, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Utrecht, Netherlands
Background:  In order to obtain optimal functioning in the school setting, a positive relation with the teacher is imperative for adolescents with ASD.

Objectives:  The goal of this study was to explore the impact of the Good Behavior Game (GBG), a universal classroom-based behavioral management program, on the relationship between teachers and adolescents who are placed in special education schools due to psychiatric problems. Subsequently, we examined whether similar findings were obtained when including only students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), because of their particular social difficulties.

Methods:  Data were collected among 412 adolescent students with psychiatric problems from fourteen special secondary schools in the Netherlands (M age = 14.3 years, SD = 1.6). Based on students’ school files, 107 students had an ASD diagnosis. After random assignment to conditions, students in classes that implemented the GBG were compared to students who received education-as-usual. Characteristics of the teacher-student relationship were examined from both the teacher’s and student’s point of view.

Results: Results of multilevel modeling showed that the GBG positively impacted the teacher-reports of teacher-student closeness, and student-reports of teacher-student strict interaction. These findings remained significant, also when including only the students with an ASD-diagnosis.


Conclusions:  The GBG may be regarded as an possible element of an  approach to facilitate special secondary education teachers, who educate adolescent students with a wider range of psychiatric disorders, including ASD, in creating a more positive classroom climate.