Emotion-based Social Skills Training

Emotion-based Social Skills Training is a treatment that aims to promote the well-being of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and prevent the onset of mental health concerns.

Contact details: 

Email ebsst@chw.edu.au

EBSST is the program developed by the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and used by the NSW Department of Education and Training, as a social-emotional curriculum for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Research has demonstrated EBSST improves emotional competence and mental health for children with autism and that improvements are sustained 6 months after completing the program.  

EBSST is delivered by practitioners that are trained and certified by the Children’s Hospital at Westmead from a variety of public and private settings.

View the list of Certified Practitioners

EBSST offers a practitioner training program that aims to:

  • provide training for practitioners to be accredited EBSST group facilitators;
  • build practitioner knowledge of emotional and skills in addressing the social and emotional difficulties of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders;
  • provide training in enhancing student’s knowledge of emotional and social skills and the application of these skills in specific contexts;
  • provide training in delivering EBSST to parents on how they can address the social and emotional deficits in children with Autism;
  • provide training in delivering EBSST to teachers on how they can respond to their student’s emotional level and behaviour.

Like more information about Emotion-based Social Skills Training?

Email ebsst@chw.edu.au

Training and certification

Training and certification is provided for Practitioners who are interested in delivering EBSST groups. Practitioners previously trained have delivered EBSST in private therapy clinics, schools, and outpatient hospital settings.

Training and certification is available for:

  • EBSST for High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome
  • EBSST for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mild Intellectual Disability

Practitioners can participate in 2-days of training and accreditation on how to effectively deliver EBSST child, parent, and teacher sessions. Certification provides practitioners with expert feedback at a personalised level on core competencies of EBSST program delivery.

Included in training and certification are:

  • Manuals consisting of a session-by-session guide for delivering EBSST groups to children, parents, and teachers.
  • Group Facilitator manuals for child, parent, and teacher groups, and materials required for running EBSST including DVDs, scripted Powerpoint presentations, social stories, and visuals.
  • Access to the EBSST online discussion board for Practitioners. The EBSST discussion board allows Practitioners to discuss topics related to Autism Spectrum Disorders, the delivery of EBSST and receive up to date information on EBSST developments.

EBSST Modules 

Module 1 – Understanding Emotions

This Module aims to develop children’s awareness of their own and others’ emotions and includes learning how to describe and recognise emotion, the different causes of emotion, and how to differentiate varying intensities of emotion. Parents and teachers are introduced to their role as ‘emotion coaches’, and learn about how to support students to talk about their emotions.

Module 2 - Perspective Taking and Problem Solving

This Module teaches children about thoughts and feelings in themselves and in others, to foster a greater understanding of the causes and influences of people’s emotional experiences and behaviour. In Module 2, children are also introduced to cognitive-behavioural therapy strategies such as structured problem solving and thought challenging to replace unhelpful with more helpful thoughts. Parents and teachers learn and practice further emotion-coaching strategies for supporting the children’s problem solving and perspective-taking skills.

Module 3 – Managing Emotions

This Module provides children with a range of strategies for dealing with difficult or unpleasant emotions. This helps children to feel more in control and accepting of their emotions, which in turn enables them to behave more appropriately and in more socially positive ways. In Module 3, parents and teachers again learn and practice different emotion-coaching strategies for supporting students.

EBSST has been developed over a number of years by a team of research and clinical staff from the Department of Psychological Medicine, Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and the University of Sydney. 

High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome

EBSST for Children with HFASD and AS is aimed at children aged 8-14 years with high- functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders who have abilities within the average or above range. Children with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders include those with Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified.

EBSST for Children with HFASD and AS consists of children attending small groups with 3-7 other children during 1-hour sessions. Sessions run over 5 consecutive weeks and is designed to run over 3 school terms.

Parents and teachers of children participating in EBSST can attend 1.5-hour group sessions at the beginning and end of each of three modules.

A 1.5-hour booster session for children, parents and teachers to review skills taught during the program is run six months following the completion of Module 3. The booster session aims to review skills taught during the program.

EBSST sessions cater for the learning strengths and weaknesses of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Teaching strategies incorporated in EBSST include:

  • video clips of social situations
  • social stories
  • visual prompts
  • role plays
  • live modelling
  • activity scheduling
  • structured breaks and games
  • take home practice

Autism Spectrum Disorder and mild intellectual disability

EBSST for Children with ASD and Mild ID is aimed at children aged 8-12 years with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and mild Intellectual Disability.

EBSST for Children with ASD and Mild ID consists of children attending small groups with 3-7 other children during 1 hour sessions. Sessions run over 5 consecutive weeks, and is designed to run over 3 school terms.

Parents and teachers of children participating in EBSST can attend 1.5 hour group sessions at the beginning and end of each of three modules.

A 1.5 hour booster session for children, parents and teachers to review skills taught during the program is run six months following the completion of Module 3, to review skills taught during the program.

EBSST sessions were developed to cater for the learning strengths and weaknesses of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and mild Intellectual Disability. Teaching strategies incorporated in EBSST include:

  • video clips of social situations
  • video social stories
  • visual prompts
  • role plays
  • live modelling
  • activity scheduling
  • structured breaks and games
  • take home practice

FAQs

What age range is EBSST for?

There are different versions of EBSST for children of different ages and abilities, including:

  • Children aged 4-8 years with ASD and no intellectual disability.
  • Children aged 8-14 years with ASD and no intellectual disability.
  • Children aged 8-14 years with ASD and mild intellectual disability.

Is there a version of EBSST for adolescents or adults?

Not yet – but please check back regularly for updates on new programs.

Which version of EBSST is right for me and the child with Autism I know?

  1. EBSST for children with High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome is best suited to children aged 8 to 14 years old who have fluent speech, do not have an intellectual disability and who are able to read and write.
  2. EBSST for children with Autism and Mild Intellectual Disability is best suited to children aged 4 to 8 years old who have fluent speech, with academic skills at about the level of a kindergarten student (Early Stage 1/Stage 1).  Children do not need to read and/or write in this version of EBSST. This version is also suitable for children aged 8 to 14 years old with ASD and a mild intellectual disability. 

I’m a parent – where can my child access EBSST?

EBSST is delivered by practitioners that are trained and certified by the Children’s Hospital at Westmead from a variety of public and private settings. Or you can ask your local education or health provider if they are able to offer EBSST.

Please click here for a list of trained and certified EBSST Practitioners.

Practitioner training is available at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in all versions of EBSST. Practitioners receive the complete EBSST intervention package as part of the 2-day training course.

EBSST is currently only available from EBSST practitioners who are trained and certified by the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Please check back regularly for updates about EBSST availability.

I’m an education or health care professional – how can I offer EBSST to children that I work with?

Practitioner training is available at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in all versions of EBSST. Practitioners receive the complete EBSST intervention package as part of the 2-day training course.

Can I purchase the EBSST kit without attending the 2 –day workshop at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead?

Not yet – but please check back regularly as we are currently developing new models of distribution and training for EBSST.

I’ve been trained in EBSST – how can I access additional student workbooks?

Once you have completed the 2-day facilitator training and have an EBSST intervention kit, additional student, teacher and parent workbooks can all be purchased separately from the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Like to order now?

Is EBSST only a group-based intervention or can I use it with children 1:1?

EBSST has been researched as a group-based intervention. However, EBSST is also successfully used clinically in 1:1 settings.

I’m a researcher and I am interested in using EBSST in my research.  How do I go about this?

Please contact a member of the EBSST team on ebsst@chw.edu.au to discuss your research further.

How can I support EBSST?

EBSST is a not-for-profit initiative of the Children’s Hospital at Westmead which is a registered charity.  EBSST relies heavily on donations, fundraising and grants to support further development, research and dissemination of EBSST.

The major annual EBSST fundraiser is the City2Surf, the world’s biggest fun run held every August in Sydney, Australia. ‘Team Westmead Autism’ is a team of staff and their supporters who participate in the City2Surf each year to raise money for EBSST. The team dress up as in costume as superheroes and over 30 runners have raised in excess of $50,000.

Individuals, schools, sporting teams, groups, organisations and others are warmly invited to participate either via running with Team Westmead Autism or team donations. 

Please contact us on ebsst@chw.edu.au if you’d like to join Team Westmead Autism or support their next City2Surf campaign.

About us

Dr Michelle Wong, PhD DCP BSc(Psych-Hons) MAPS

Dr Michelle Wong is a Senior Clinical Psychologist at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, Australia who specialises in assessment, treatment, and clinical research in the area of children with Autism and Intellectual Disability. Since its beginnings in 2004, Dr Wong has managed the Emotion-based Social Skills Training research program and is author of Emotion-based Social Skills Training which has programs for children, parents, teachers and therapists and aims to promote emotion competence and prevent the onset of mental illness in children with Autism and Intellectual Disability. Dr Wong completed her PhD and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Sydney where she is an Honorary Associate.

Dr David Dossetor, MD (Cantab) MA MBBChir DCH FRCP(UK) FRCPsych (UK) FRANZCP

David Dossetor, Director of Mental Health, Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, Child Psychiatrist with special interest in intellectual disability and ASD, and Clinical Associate Professor at the Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney. David has been project sponsor for the Emotion-Based Social Skills Training program since its inception in 2004.

Belinda Ratcliffe, MPsych(Clinical), BSc(Psych-Hons)

 

Belinda Ratcliffe is a Clinical Psychologist at the Children's Hospital at Westmead. Belinda has over 15 years’ experience providing specialist assessment and treatment to children with developmental difficulties, with a special interest in Autism Spectrum Disorder in government, non-Government and private sectors. Belinda is currently undertaking her PhD at the University of Sydney, where she is the recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award and University of Sydney Merit Award. Her research involves the largest treatment vs. control study of a social-emotional intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, with and without Intellectual Disability in schools. Belinda is first author of Emotion-Based Social Skills Training for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mild Intellectual Disability. Belinda has published her work in journals, books and regularly presents at national and international conferences

 

Resources

Emotion-based Social Skills Training Publications

Teaching social emotional skills to school aged children with autism

Ratcliffe, B., Wong, M., Dossetor, D., & Hayes, S. (2014). Teaching social–emotional skills to school-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A treatment versus control trial in 41 mainstream schools. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8(12), 1722-1733

Association between social skills and mental health in school aged children with autism, with and without intellectual disability. (The final publication is available at link.springer.com)

Ratcliffe, Belinda, Wong, Michelle, Dossetor, David, & Hayes, Susan. (2015). The Association Between Social Skills and Mental Health in School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, With and Without Intellectual Disability. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1-10. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2411-z

Developing emotion based skills in children with autism and intellectual disability

Mental health of children and adolescents with intellectual disability: a framework for professional practice. Melbourne, Australia: IP Communications.

Order Form

EBSST Manual and Material Order Form for trained and certified facilitators.

EBSST Manual and material Order Form