The secret is out!

13 Feb 2020

Autism CRC subsidiary Social Skills Training (SST) is excited to announce that Essential Participant Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) has committed to a five-year rollout of the Secret Agent Society (SAS) Small Group Program. The program will run in nine Aspect schools across several school districts in the Sydney, Hunter/Central Coast, Riverina and Adelaide regions. Additionally, Aspect support a range of satellite classes embedded in local schools such as Alstonville, Coffs Harbour and Wagga Wagga, where SAS will also be implemented.

The SAS Small Group Program is one of a suite of options available to clinical and educational services under the SAS evidence-based framework. The rollout began this month with SAS Professional Training for 56 educational and allied health professionals. Over 200 students will benefit from the program starting as early as Term 2, with more to follow.

Aspect School Principal, Jo Tisdell, who has previously assisted SST’s Clinical Psychologist in delivering SAS Professional Training Courses said, “Teachers and parents alike can see improvements in the kids’ social and emotional development, all whilst the kids are having fun engaging with SAS materials.

The SAS Small Group Program helps kids 8 to 12 years of age crack the code of emotions and friendships. SAS includes a range of interactive resources with the new SAS Digital Headquarters, an online gamified learning platform, at its core. The engaging gamified nature of the intervention is one of the main features of the program, and one which has almost pre-empted the emerging field of digital (gamified) therapeutics. Junior Detectives graduate from SAS equipped with the skills to feel happier, calmer and braver while making new friends and keeping them. The evidence-base, structured curriculum and captivating theme make this program one of the most successful of its kind in the world.

Aspect have been strong supporters of SAS for many years. In 2013-2014 Aspect and the University of Sydney evaluated the use of the SAS Small Group Program in their satellite classes. This work assisted in informing some of the program enhancements made in 2016. This led to the release of the Second Edition of SAS Small Group Program (see further reading).

With over 1,000 trained SAS Facilitators from clinical and educational services across the globe, the SAS Small Group Program is empowering children to reach their full potential through increased emotional resilience and social skills to navigate many of life’s challenges and successes.

To date, SAS has helped around 20,000 children, contributing to the successful transition of thousands of children through adolescence and into adulthood.

Link to SST website

Further reading

  • Einfeld, S., Beaumont, R., Clark, T., Clarke, K., Costley, D., Gray, K., Horstead, S., Hodge, A., Roberts, J., Sofronoff, K., Taffe, J., and Howlin, P. (2017). School-based social skills training for young people with autism spectrum disorders, Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, DOI: 10.3109/13668250.2017.1326587
  • Einfeld, S., Beaumont, R., Sofronoff, K., Gray, K., Roberts, J., Taffe … Howlin, P. (submitted). An evaluation of a social skills program for children with autism in specialist schools.
Teachers sit in groups around large circular tables with a variety of Secret Agent Society Resources in front of them
Aspect teachers at an SST training workshop