Background: Previous research indicates that the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (P.E.E.R.S.) is an effective intervention for adolescents with developmental delays. This 12-week, parent-supported, social skills training program is aimed at increasing social skills repertoires for teenagers with Autism spectrum disorders.
Objectives: The purpose of the current study is to effectively implement the P.E.E.R.S. program in a school setting. More specifically, while providing intervention for high school students on the Autism spectrum, this research is aimed at enhancing the school system’s ability to independently provide empirically-validated social skills training to their students. Thus, teachers will be trained to both instruct and coach students during the P.E.E.R.S. training.
Methods: Approximately six to nine ASD high school students will be recruited via teacher referrals. Students will be between the ages of 13 and 17, will have an ASD diagnosis, and will have an I.Q. of 70 or above. Students will attend twelve 90-minute social skills training groups, while parents will attend twelve 90-minute social skills support sessions. The student group will be facilitated by a group leader, two coaches, and a teacher coach. The parent group will be facilitated by a group leader and one teacher coach.
Results: Screening measures will be used to determine program eligibility. In addition, comprehensive assessments of the student’s social and adaptive functioning will be conducted both before and after P.E.E.R.S. training to determine clinical efficacy of the program.
Conclusions: The P.E.E.R.S. program is expected to meaningfully enhance its student participants’ social competency, increase the ability of participants’ parents to coach and support students during social interactions, and ensure teachers’ competency in providing social skills intervention in a schools setting. Strengths and weaknesses of the methodology and implications for future research will be discussed.