Academic journal article Behavioral Disorders

Further Examination of Two Measures of Community-Based Social Skills for Adolescents and Young Adults with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Academic journal article Behavioral Disorders

Further Examination of Two Measures of Community-Based Social Skills for Adolescents and Young Adults with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Article excerpt

* Perhaps the most salient characteristic of adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) is their lack of appropriate social skills (Freedman, Rosenthal, Donahoe, Schlundt, & McFall, 1978; Gaffney & McFall, 1981; Kazdin, 1987a, 1987b, 1993). As adolescents with E/BD age into adulthood, these deficits have grave consequences. These persons encounter difficulties living successfully in the community and display marital difficulties, substance abuse, depression, violence, and arrests in excess of the national norms for their peers without FE/BD (e.g., Parker & Asher, 1987; Robins, 1978, 1981). Accordingly, social skills instruction represents an important intervention for adolescents with E/BD in secondary/transition programs (Walker & Bullis, 1995). It must be recognized that, of the population as a whole, between 45% and 60% will drop out of high school before completion (Blackorby, Edgar, & Kortering, 1991), 10% to 15% will enter postsecondary education programs (Valdes, Williamson, & Wagner, 1990), and few will receive services from adult service agencies (Kortering & Edgar, 1988). It follows that interventions offered in secondary/transition programs must be as powerful and as focused as possible, since they may well be the last coordinated services these persons will receive before entering society and adult life.

Research suggests that adolescence may be an efficacious and receptive time to instruct persons with E/BD in the type of prosocial skills they will need to live successfully as adults in our society (Albee, 1982; Hobbs & Robinson, 1982). Social skills interventions, however, have demonstrated varied short- and long-term success (Ager & Cole, 1991; Gresham & Lemanek,1983; Henderson & Hollin, 1983; Hobbs, Moguin, Tyroler, & Lahey, 1980). At least some of the shortcomings found in these interventions are attributable to a lack of awareness about the content-that is, the exact types of social skills-necessary to promote successful community adjustment for adolescents with E/BD. Content specification is crucial, because instruction must address high-priority social skills if it is to be relevant to real needs and have maximum impact (Freedman et al., 1978; Kazdin, 1985; Linehan,1980; McFall,1982,1986).

In previous research, we examined the community-based social skills of adolescents and young adults with E/BD (Bullis, Bull, P. Johnson , & B. Johnson,1994) to develop two social skills assessment instruments that would specifically address the types of interactions these persons were likely to encounter in community living situations. In that study, the length of time required to complete the measures was identified as a weakness by educators, and a high degree of intercorrelation was apparent within each measure. We reasoned that by eliminating this redundancy it should be possible to (a) reduce the length of the measures and (b) improve their psychometric characteristics. We conducted a reanalysis of the original field-test data set to address these issues, and the results are presented here.

Background

The behavioral analytic model (Goldfried & D'Zurilla, 1969) was followed to develop the measures (see Bullis et al., 1994, for a complete description of this process). This method (a) assumes that social behavior is defined by the context or setting in which it occurs and (b) focuses on interactions between individuals from a target population within the specific target setting(s). This results in the identification of specific interactions in the community that may be problematic for the target population as well as a range of effective and ineffective possible responses to those interactions. Since social skills are composed of two components: knowledge (i.e., knowing how to behave) and behavior (i.e., performing the skill) (McFall, 1982), we decided to develop measures to address both of these components.

The Test of Community-Based Social Skill Knowledge (TCSK) addresses social skills knowledge between males and females and is presented in two subsections: Interactions with Peers and Interactions with Adults. …

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