WWC review of this study

A social skills training program for preschoolers with developmental delays: Generalization and social validity.

LeBlanc, L. A., & Matson, J. L. (1995). Behavior Modification, 19(2), 234–246. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ513091

  • Randomized controlled trial
    , grade

Reviewed: February 2013

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Social-emotional development outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Frequency of "appropriate" social behaviors

Social Skills Training vs. Business as Usual


32 students




More Outcomes

Frequency of "inappropriate" social behavior

Social Skills Training vs. Business as Usual


32 students





Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 12%
    Male: 88%
  • Race


The study was conducted in a preschool for children with developmental disabilities.

Study sample

Thirty-two children in six classrooms participated in this study. The children had mild to moderate developmental delays, and many also were physically handicapped. Six intact classrooms of children were randomly assigned to one of two conditions. Children in classrooms assigned to the intervention group (n = 16 children) received social skills training, while children in classrooms assigned to the comparison group (n = 16 children) received the business-as-usual classroom experience.

Intervention Group

Children in the intervention group received two one-hour sessions of social skills training each week, for a total of 12 sessions over six weeks. The activities in the training were designed to promote social skills and social play. Each session was broken into two phases. During Phase 1 (approximately 15 minutes), children were instructed on target behaviors, including greeting, asking to see a toy, initiating play, and showing a toy. Therapists modeled the target behavior using a puppet, the children modeled the behavior following this initial presentation with a puppet, and then the children modeled the behavior with another child. During Phase 2 (approximately 45 minutes), children engaged in play and received verbal and edible reinforcements for engaging in the target behavior. Children who engaged in inappropriate behaviors were prompted to perform an opposite positive behavior. For example, if a child inappropriately took a toy, the corresponding opposite positive behavior was to return the toy and to ask to see it. If the child refused to conduct the opposite positive behavior, they were placed in a one-minute time-out.

Comparison Group

Children in the comparison group participated in regular classroom activities and received a reward for participating in the data collection for the study. They did not receive any social skills training or reinforcement of target behaviors.

Outcome descriptions

The study examined two outcomes in the socio-emotional development and behavior domain. The frequency of “appropriate” and “inappropriate” behaviors was assessed through direct observations of children during a semi-structured play session at pretest and at posttest. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

The staff that implemented the intervention was comprised of therapists and assistant therapists. No information was provided about training.


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