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Observed Effects of the PEERS Social Skills Intervention for a Diverse Sample of Adolescents with ASD

  • Author(s): Veytsman, Elina
  • Advisor(s): Blacher, Jan
  • et al.
Abstract

Adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have difficulty initiating and maintaining conversations with peers, affecting their ability to develop friendships (Reichow & Volkmar, 2010). Social skills interventions targeting conversational skills (e.g., the PEERS intervention) have demonstrated effectiveness (Laugeson et al., 2009, 2012), but few studies have utilized objective behavioral outcome measures. The Contextual Assessment of Social Skills (CASS; Ratto et al., 2011) is the most commonly used observational measure of conversational skills following the PEERS social skills program, but its specificity to the skills targeted has been under-examined. This study evaluates the utility of an adapted version of the CASS in measuring changes in conversational skills following a social skills intervention with a diverse sample of adolescents with ASD. Seven adolescents with ASD and their parents attended concurrent weekly 90-minute PEERS sessions over 16 weeks. Preliminary analyses revealed consistent improvements in several conversational domains. Observed improvements were associated with parent-reported gains in social responsiveness and increased adolescent social skills knowledge.

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