What is PEERS?
The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) is a 14-week parent-assisted social skills intervention for motivated teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders in middle and high school who are interested in learning ways to help them make and keep friends. The PEERS intervention has demonstrated significant positive outcomes in clinical trials and follow-up (Laugeson, Frankel, Gantman, Mogil, & Dillon, 2008; Laugeson, Frankel, Mogil, & Dillon, 2009). During each group session, teens are taught important social skills and are given the opportunity to practice these skills in session during socialization activities. Parents are taught how to assist their teens in making and keeping friends by providing feedback through coaching during weekly socialization homework assignments. The PEERS program requires commitment by both teens and their caregivers. Dr. Sarah O’Kelley, in our Autism Clinic, received training at UCLA to become certified to provide the PEERS program. For more information about the original UCLA PEERS program, see www.semel.ucla.edu/peers.
What do teens learn in PEERS?
Participants learn important friendship-building skills for teens including:
- How to use appropriate conversational skills
- How to find common interests by trading information
- How to use electronic forms of communication
- How to choose appropriate friends
- How to use humor appropriately
- How to enter and exit conversations between peers
- How to handle rejection, teasing, and bullying
- How to handle rumors and gossip
- How to organize and have get-togethers with friends
- How to be a good sport during games and activities
- How to handle arguments and disagreements with friends
- How to change a bad reputation
How can my teen and family become involved in PEERS?
An application and in-person intake session will be required before being enrolled in the PEERS program to determine whether PEERS is appropriate for the child/teen and caregivers. Fees for groups will be due at the first session and may be covered by insurance. At this time, the PEERS program at UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics will be offered for children/teens with diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (including Asperger’s Disorder and high-functioning Autism and PDD-NOS); children/teens with other developmental disabilities may be included in future groups. Contact the UAB PEERS team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to be added to a mailing list for PEERS intervention groups. Dr. O'Kelley can also be reached at 205-975-5781.
At this time, we periodically offer young adult groups. For more information, see our flyer, Young Adults PEERS.