Evidence-Based Social Skills Training for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The UCLA PEERS Program

Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California Los Angeles, 760 Westwood Plaza, Ste 48-243B, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.06). 08/2011; 42(6):1025-36. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1339-1
Source: PubMed


The present study examines the efficacy and durability of the PEERS Program, a parent-assisted social skills group intervention for high-functioning adolescents with ASD. Results indicate that teens receiving PEERS significantly improved their social skills knowledge, social responsiveness, and overall social skills in the areas of social communication, social cognition, social awareness, social motivation, assertion, cooperation, and responsibility, while decreasing autistic mannerisms and increasing the frequency of peer interactions. Independent teacher ratings revealed significant improvement in social skills and assertion from pre-test to follow-up assessment. Examination of durability of improvement revealed maintenance of gains in nearly all domains with additional treatment gains at a 14-week follow-up assessment.

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    • "There are several reasons why SKILLS groups may be more effective than the ENGAGE groups. One is the SKILLS group provided direct instruction in social skills that were immediately practiced within the group, an approach that has proven very effective with children with ASD in the clinic (Laugeson et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Peer relationships improve for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in clinic-based social skills groups but rarely generalize to real world contexts. This study compares child outcomes of two social skills interventions conducted in schools with children in Kindergarten through fifth grade. Method: Children with ASD were randomized to one of two interventions that varied on group composition (mixed typical and ASD vs. all ASD or social difficulties) and intervention approach (didactic SKILLS based vs. activity-based ENGAGE groups). Interventions were implemented at school for 8 weeks (16 sessions) with an 8-week follow-up. Innovative measures of peer nomination and playground peer engagement, as well as teacher reports of child behavior problems and teacher-child relationship were analyzed for 137 children with ASD across four sites. Results: On the primary outcome of social network connections from the peer nomination measure, there was no main effect of treatment, but there were moderator effects. Children with low teacher-child closeness or high conflict improved more in their social connections if they received the SKILLS intervention, whereas children with higher teacher-child closeness improved more if they received the ENGAGE intervention. Only two secondary outcome measures yielded significant effects of treatment. Children in the SKILLS groups increased peer engagement and decreased isolation during recess. Child behavior problems and teacher-child closeness moderated peer engagement such that children with higher behavior problems and lower closeness benefitted more from SKILLS groups. Conclusions: These findings suggest that social skills groups conducted at school can affect both peer engagement during recess as well as peer acceptability. Child characteristics and teacher-child relationship prior to intervention yield important information on who might benefit from a specific social skills intervention.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 09/2015; DOI:10.1111/jcpp.12460 · 6.46 Impact Factor
    • "Social Responsiveness Scale-Second Edition (SRS-2; Constantino and Gruber 2012) The SRS-2 is a 65-item measure of ASD symptoms intended to support clinical interpretations of diagnoses and assist with educational and psychological intervention planning. This parent-informed measure is scored on a 4 point Likert scale and has demonstrated sensitivity to changes in social functioning among ASD children (Constantino and Gruber 2012; Laugeson et al. 2012). The SRS-2 has five treatment subscales: social awareness, social cognition, social communication , social motivation, and restricted interests and repetitive behaviors; and two subscales corresponding to the DSM-5 criteria: social communication and interaction index and restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study examines the efficacy of a social skills and Theory of Mind (S.S.ToM) intervention for children with high-functioning ASD. Children were taught to identify and consider their peer's mental states, e.g., knowledge, emotions, desires, beliefs, intentions, likes and dislikes, while learning friendship-making skills and strategies, through the use of visual scaffolds in story format. Compared to two control groups, S.S.ToM participants demonstrated significantly greater gains on measures of Theory of Mind and social responsiveness. At a 3-month follow-up assessment, improvements appeared to have been maintained and continued gains were observed. These results provide support for the utility of a visually supported Theory of Mind and social skills intervention that may be delivered in community settings.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 05/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10803-015-2459-9 · 3.06 Impact Factor
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    • "First, measurement was limited to the social targets only and the results do not allow us to speak to broad gains in social competence, as would be obtained through administration of standardized pre-and post-assessments using a between group design. Broad changes in social functioning are clearly an important goal for social skills group interventions (e.g., Laugeson et al. 2012) and given the dosage and intensity of VGI, it is important to know whether the program leads to such robust outcomes. It will be important for future research to combine direct observation of targeted social skills with standardized measures of social competence to rigorously assess overall social functioning following implementation of VGI. "
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    ABSTRACT: Social deficits are a core characteristic of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and co-occurring intellectual disabilities (ASD-ID). Despite persistence of these deficits into adolescence, few social skills interventions have been empirically evaluated for older individuals with ASD-ID. The present investigation adapted an efficacious protocol for adolescents with ASD, video-based group instruction (VGI), and extended the procedure to 4 adolescents in a public high school setting. A multiple probe across behaviors design demonstrated the effectiveness of VGI for teaching novel social behavior to three of the four participants, with mixed outcomes for the fourth participant. Long-term maintenance was observed for two participants, though generalization outcomes were mixed. The results support using VGI within high school curricula for some adolescents with ASD-ID.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 03/2015; 45(9). DOI:10.1007/s10803-015-2434-5 · 3.06 Impact Factor
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