On June 8 Anna Matchneva M. Ed, BCBA, PEERS-Certified instructor will be offering a free lecture on the art of friendship and the science behind it.
She will also be offering weekly evening PEERS groups for 6-12 and 12-16 year old students in July through October called PEERS, The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS). It is an evidence-based social skills program for children and teens and their parents. The parent component supports caregivers in coaching their child in expanding their peer networks, and helping to promote successful peer get-togethers.
It is helpful for children who have social challenges for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to: ADHD, anxiety, depression, social phobias, OCD, Asperger's, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and high-functioning autism, visually impaired, hard of hearing, brain injuries, and bipolar disorder.
* The free lecture on "The Art of Friendship and the Science Behind It" is June 8 6-7:30pm.
* The 6-12 year old group is $1400 for 14 1.5 hour weekly sessions (= $66/hr) + $100 intake fee. It meets Mondays 5:30pm - 7pm and runs July 9 to October 29, 2012.
* The 12-16 year old group is $1400 for 14 1.5 hour weekly sessions (= $66/hr) + $100 + $100 intake fee. It meets Wednesdays 5:30pm - 7pm and runs July 11 to October 24, 2012.
* Autism funding can be used.
* To secure a spot for the July-October session, register by June 11, 2012.
* They are at I Step Ahead at 207-5589 Byrne Rd, Burnaby BC
* Anna Matchneva M.Ed, BCBA (Behavior Consultant) can be reached at (604) 433-1148 and firstname.lastname@example.org
* Use the subject line "Parent Night" to reserve your spot for the free lecture, space is limited.
* Use the subject line "PEERS" to contact Anna about the PEERS program.
High-Functioning Autistic Teens Benefit From Friendship Training Program Marlene Busko
May 19, 2008 (London, United Kingdom) — High-functioning teens with autism exhibited significant improvement in social functioning following a 14-week treatment intervention, in a recent
The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), the intervention that was used, is an evidence-based, parent-assisted social-skills training program developed by Elizabeth A. Laugeson, PsyD, and Fred Frankel, PhD, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Dr. Laugeson presented her group's study findings at the 7th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research 2008.
"Children with autism are very socially isolated and don’t often participate in extracurricular activities," she told Medscape Psychiatry. "We really need to get parents involved in getting the kids linked with peer groups, because that’s where they have opportunities for making new friends."
With the PEERS program, "you can literally see a dramatic improvement in these kids' social skills just over the course of 14 weeks," she said.
Program Targets Deficits in Social Skills
Social deficits among teens with autism include poor conversational skills (such as repeating things and having a one-sided conversation), not trying to enter conversations with peers, and limited participation in social activities, the group writes. These deficits often result in peer rejection, social isolation, and lack of close friends, they add.
The PEERS treatment program is based on overcoming core deficits in friendship skills in teens with autism that have been identified in the research literature, said Dr. Laugeson.
A key aspect of the program is that parents are trained to act as social coaches. Parents and teens participate in separate, concurrent, 90-minute weekly training sessions for 14 weeks.
The teens are taught how to:
- Use appropriate conversational skills (trade information, find common interests, have a reciprocal conversation, and use nonverbal communication).
- Use appropriate humor.
- Enter and exit a conversation.
- Choose appropriate friends.
- Be a good host during get-togethers with friends.
- Handle arguments and disagreements with friends.
- Handle teasing and bullying.
Clinical psychologists present concrete rules and steps of social etiquette and then demonstrate conversation scenarios. The teens then participate in role-playing, where they can practice skills and receive feedback. They receive homework assignments for parent-supervised socialization.
"We try to make it very simple for them to understand these complicated social situations," said Dr. Laugeson.
Study Finds "Dramatic Improvement"
Although it is becoming increasingly recognized that social-skills training is important for teens with autism, most intervention studies to date have been small and focused on younger children with lower-functioning ability, the group writes.
The current study examined the efficacy of PEERS in improving overall social skills and friendship quality among 33 teens aged 13 to 17 years who had high-functioning autism or Asperger's disorder.
Participants were randomized to receive immediate PEERS treatment (n = 17) or be on a wait list (control group, n = 16).
At the end of the 14 weeks, treated teens reported significantly improved knowledge of social skills and said that they hosted, on average, 2 more get-togethers with friends in a month. Parents concurred with this and also reported that there was much less conflict during the get-togethers.
In addition, parents reported that their teens' social skills improved significantly. There was an 8-point improvement in parent-reported social-skills rating scale (SSRS) scores for the treated teens. "Not only is that statistically significant, it's clinically meaningful," said Dr. Laugeson.
The teens' teachers, who were not involved in the training sessions, noted even more striking improvements, she said. At the end of the 14 weeks, the average teacher-reported SSRS scores for the treated teens were 10 points higher than at the start of the program, whereas the average teacher-reported SSRS scores for the untreated teens were 5 points lower than at the start of the program.
The group is continuing this study and looking at 3-month follow-up results, said Dr. Laugeson.