Book Review: PEERS Curriculum for School-Based Professionals: Social Skills Training for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

PEERS Curriculum for School-Based Professionals: Social Skills Training for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The PEERS curriculum is a 16-week program, clinically proven to improve social skills and social interactions among teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This program is aimed at higher functioning adolescents, focusing on skills related to making and keeping friends, and managing peer conflict and rejection. The PEERS curriculum includes detailed instructions about the program’s structure and composition, lesson plans, materials needed, behaviour management techniques, parent involvement, progress monitoring and potential outcomes. This social skills program implements research-based techniques and delivers proven results.

The implementation of the PEERS curriculum is optimal when delivered daily (30-60 mins) for a 16-week period, where each week, the focus is on teaching a specific skill in a highly structured format:

Day 1: Review

Day 2: Presentation of didactic lesson

Day 3: Brief review and practice

Day 4 & 5: Practice activity

Each lesson comes with an easy to follow, step-by-step outline. The program is meant to be delivered in its entirety as each skill builds on the next. The authors recommend that only interested students take part and that total participation be limited to 15, with seven to ten  students being the optimal size. Furthermore, the school personnel responsible for implementing the PEERS curriculum do not need to be experts in running a social skills program, but should have experience in working with teens with ASD. The PEERS program is clearly explained with explicit step-by step directions which allow for accessible implementation.

The PEERS curriculum is a valuable resource for students in WOTP. This social skills training program is aimed at students with ASD, but could also be implemented to a lesser extent with students with intellectual disabilities, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and ADHD. The techniques used in this curriculum are research-based and have been validated and updated based on user feedback. Educators and participants noted that after completing the PEERS curriculum, students showed a significant improvement in self-esteem and knowledge of social skills, a decrease in internalizing behaviours and social anxiety, overall improvement in social responsiveness, and increased hangouts with friends. For WOTP students who struggle in social situations in school or the workplace, engaging in a social skills program that will ultimately allow them to increase their workplace performance, and in turn improve their competency development, is highly beneficial and well worth the investment. 

Each school board has a copy of the PEERS curriculum if you are interested in implementing this program with your WOTP students. Contact your WOTP consultant for more information.

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