Communities for Children Facilitating Partners Evidence-based programme profiles

Secret Agent Society

Name

Secret Agent Society

Target audience

Middle childhood (6-12 years)
Parents

CfC Objective

Supporting Families and Parents

Organisation

Social Skills Training Institute, a subsidiary of the not-for-profit Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC).

Delivery Setting

Community-based; school-based

Description

The multi-media program aims to teach children to recognise and manage their own feelings, cope with change, detect other people’s emotions, develop and maintain friendships, social problems, and deal with bullying.

Delivered to

Children aged 8-12 with social and emotional challenges such as autism, anxiety, ADHD, friendship difficulties etc.

Delivered by

Allied Health clinicians, education staff and other professionals working with children with social-emotional challenges such as autism, anxiety, ADHD, friendship difficulties etc.

Program Structure

There are three levels of program access:
• SAS Small Group Program (for children with identified needs)
• SAS Stand Alone Resources (for flexible use and integration into other individual or group work)
• SAS Whole-of-Class Curriculum (for mainstream classrooms and students)

SAS Small Group is a multi-component program that up-skills and empowers not only children with social and emotional challenges, but also the parents and teachers who support them. The program includes:

Resources: SAS uses espionage-themed games and activities such as SAS Computer Game, Helpful Thought Missile action game, and the SAS Challenger Board Game.

Child group meetings: delivered over 9 weeks for 90 minutes per session (or 18 weeks for 45 minutes per session), plus 2-4 booster sessions at 3 and 6-month time points.

Parent support sessions: delivered as weekly 30-45 minute sessions (or as four 2-hour sessions) over the course of the program (based on parent and staff preferences).

Weekly teacher tip sheets: delivered as weekly 30-45 minute sessions (or as four 2-hour sessions) over the course of the program (based on parent and staff preferences).

SAS computer game: played at home or at school to teach children to recognise emotions in themselves and others, express their feelings appropriately and cope with social challenges.

Home Missions: weekly tasks to practise the skills learnt.

Within a community setting, the Small Group program is ideally co-facilitated by two trained SAS Facilitators with a group of four to six children (minimum of three children). If this is not possible, a single SAS Facilitator may deliver the program to a maximum of three children.

SAS facilitators typically include allied health, disability and education professionals.

For more information: https://www.sst-institute.net/sas-small-group-program

Training

Professionals are required to attend a 2-day interactive training course to equip them to deliver the SAS Small Group Program.
Training packs, dates and locations are listed online: https://www.sst-institute.net/sas-professional-training

Cost

All prices excluding GST

  • 2-Day SAS Practitioner Training Course: Scheduled event places per person:
  • Early Bird $850
  • General $900
  • Agency hosted events (20 people): $14,586.00
  • Session Resources Kit (can be shared by four practitioners at a service delivery site): $582
  • SAS Family Kits – all of the take home resources for children, parents and teachers: $176-209.50
  • Extra Clinical support included in training place or additional at up to $200 per hour.
Contact

Phone: (07) 3720 8740
Email: sas@sst-institute.net
Website: http://www.sst-institute.net
Principal Consultant: Kathleen Davey, Clinical Psychologist

Evaluation and effectiveness

The program has been evaluated in clinic and school settings. The growing number of studies underway and published show that the program has wide application to a range of ages, diagnoses and intellectual levels, can involve parents and/or teachers in delivery and can be delivered in a manualised full small group format or by using components of the program. Contact the Social Skills Training Institute for further details.

An initial clinic-based RCT (Beaumont & Sofronoff, 2008) of the SAS program (formerly called the Junior Detective Training Program) showed 76 per cent of children aged 8 to 12 years with Asperger’s Disorder who participated improved from having clinically significant delays in social functioning to showing social skills within the range of typically developing children. Improvements in social skills and emotional regulation occurred across home and school and were maintained 5-months after the program ended.

SAS trials and evaluations conducted in schools, rural and remote areas, and with children who have social-emotional challenges, but who do not have ASD, showed:

  • improvements in the emotional regulation and social skills of students/children with ASD;
  • reductions in child anxiety;
  • improvement in student/child behaviour; and
  • improvement in parent self-efficacy.

Ongoing trials of the program are currently underway both within Australia and internationally, including studies evaluating the effectiveness of individual (as opposed to group) delivery of SAS.

Beaumont, R., & Sofronoff, K. (2008). A multi-component social skills intervention for children with Asperger Syndrome: The Junior Detective Training Program. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 743-753.

Research findings are available online: https://www.sst-institute.net/sas-evidence