The Effectiveness of Social Skills Training to Enhance Social Skills of Children with Autism in Libya

  • Saleh Gadalla

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Context: This study aimed to investigate the efficacy of a training programme for enhancing the social skills of children in Libya who have autism. This study takes into account the fact that there are similar services in Libya that are addressing the social and educational needs of children with autism however these remain in the early stages of development and are making little progress, largely because of the lack of robust knowledge and understanding that exists around autism by policy makers, the general public and organisations. Consequently, this study is intended to act as a basis for gaining a greater understanding about how such services could be more effectively developed in Libya. This study is particularly unique in that it gives considerable attention to the cultural specifications to see if such programmes can be implemented and adapted to fit the needs of families in Libya. Libya has been chosen as the site for this research for three main reasons: first of all because it is my country of origin and therefore holds a special place in my heart; second because it is an interesting context manifesting the various barriers and challenges to social change due to myths and misunderstandings; and third because I know many children whose life chances and opportunities have been reduced only because their guardians, carers and other professionals did not understand their conditions and did not see their abilities. As a Libyan, I want to contribute to this field of knowledge and practice to ensure that children will have access to equal opportunities to their non-autistic counterparts.

    Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether the training programme, which was designed by the researcher, is effective in improving the social skills in children with autism in Libya.

    Method: Data was collected from two questionnaires and programme evaluation sheets (SST). The sample comprised of thirty-four children with autism, aged between ten and fifteen years of age. The children were divided into two groups of thirteen; one as the experimental group and the other as the control group. The programme ran for eighteen weeks. The researcher assessed the children’s social skills before, during and after it was completed. During the first twelve weeks (or the implementation stage), the researcher met the children for 30 minutes three times a day.

    Results: At the start of the training programme (pre-test stage), there were no statistically significant differences in the mean scores of social skills between the experimental and the control groups in the pre-test stage. As the training went on, the mean scores increased and showed statistical significance (post-test stage) between the experimental and the control group in the direction of the experimental group. After 8 weeks of terminating the training and in the follow up measurement of the experimental group’s social skills, there was a statistically significant difference between the experimental and the control group in their respective social skills in the direction of the experimental group.

    Conclusion: It was concluded, therefore, that the training programme had significantly improved the social skills of children with autism in Libya and it should be implemented on a wider basis. Training programmes from other parts of the world can be made culturally relevant and effective with appropriate adaptations.

    Key Limitations: This study was conducted on a small sample group (34 children in total) in only one part of Libya (Benghazi). Further, the sample group was of a particular age group (under 15 years).
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorTim Kelly (Supervisor) & Ian Barron (Supervisor)


    • Social Skills Training
    • Autism
    • Libya

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