Objectives: To test the efficacy of an adapted evidence-based social skills treatment intervention for young adults with AD/HFA, by looking at the acquisition of social skills, development of interpersonal relationships and treatments effects on psychological well being.
Methods: The intervention, known as PEERS for Young Adults, consisted of 14-week evidence-based caregiver-assisted social skills treatment program for transitional AD/HFA youth 18-22 years of age. 23 participants and their caregivers were randomly assigned to a treatment or delayed treatment control group. Weekly 90-minute treatment sessions, consisted of didactic social skills lessons, modeling, role-playing, behavioral rehearsal and homework. Didactic lessons targeted: conversational skills; peer entry/exiting strategies; choosing appropriate friends; planning/implementing get-togethers; dating etiquette; handling peer rejection; avoiding peer exploitation/victimization; and resolving conflicts.
Results: Preliminary analyses reveal that participants in the treatment group significantly improved their psychosocial functioning along a number of domains in comparison to the delayed treatment control group. Significant differences along the domains of emotional regulation, social and dating anxiety, loneliness, and locus of control were also observed between participants with AD/HFA and neurotypical and clinical populations.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that the use of PEERS for Young Adults, an adapted manualized caregiver-assisted social skills intervention, is effective in improving the social competence and friendship/relationship skills of young adults with AD/HFA, suggesting that caregiver involvement in treatment for this population continues to be vital for skill acquisition and generalization of social skills.