Implementing the PEERS Social Skills Curriculum in an Inclusive High School
The following individuals are the authors of this paper:
- Emily Graybill, PhD, NCSP
- Daniel Crimmins, PhD
- Molly Tucker MSW
- Gereen Francis, BCaBA
- Allison O’Hara, EdS
The main takeaway of this poster is that implementing the PEERS curriculum at an inclusive high school resulted in positive changes in the teens’ social engagement. PEERS can be used as a Tier II intervention for neurodiverse teens, who are socially motivated to learn how to make and keep friends. Our experience demonstrates that this program can be successful outside of a clinical setting, when the facilitators collaborate with school personnel.
The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®), was developed by faculty at the UCLA UCEDD. PEERS® is a 16-week evidence-based social skills intervention for motivated teens (ages 14-17), who are interested in making and keeping friends. The Georgia State University (GSU) UCEDD piloted the curriculum in an inclusive high school in Georgia.
Our intake process was multi-step and collaborative in nature. The students were recommended by their teachers to participate in the program. Once we received the recommendations and parental consent, our team conducted 15-minute long interviews with each interested teen. The interviews help us determine the student’s motivation, interest and fit for the program.
We utilized several pre and post assessments during this project. The students completed the Quality of Socialization Questionnaire-Adolescent or QSQA-Revised, as well as the Test of Adolescent Social Skills Knowledge or TASSK. The parents completed the Quality of Socialization Questionnaire-Parent or QSQP-Revised, as well as the SNAP-IV Rating Scale. Lastly, the teachers completed the Social Responsiveness Scale, better known as the SRS-2.
Each week, we facilitated a 90 minute session that consisted of didactic lessons, behavioral rehearsals, socialization activities and homework assignments.
The following results were determined from analyzing the pre and post assessment data. The average score on the Test of Adolescent Social Skills Knowledge increased from 13.3 to 22.3 points.
The parents reported on the QSQP-Revised that their teens increased their number of get-togethers with other teens on average from once a month to three times a month.
Based on the parents’ reports, the average SNAP-IV scores for the inattention subset decreased on average from 13.1 to 10.8. They also reported that the average score on the opposition subset decreased from 6.7 to 3.6.
Lastly, the SRS-2 results showed that the students’ scores remained consistent throughout the intervention. The average score on the pre-assessment was a 56.3 and the average post-assessment score was a 55.8.
The results indicate the following:
- Teens increased their knowledge of social skills.
- Parents observed an improvement in their teen’s social engagement, attention, and compliance at home.
- Teachers reported that teens were starting to recognize the difference between appropriate and inappropriate social behaviors.
- Teachers stated that teens participated in internships and dual enrollment as well as had joined extracurricular activities at school and in the community.
A limitation is the reliance on indirect assessments. In the future, we would like to incorporate behavior observation in order to assess the teens’ ability to utilize the skills outside of simulated behavioral rehearsals.