PEERS – Social Skills Training (Autism, ADHD)

NOTE: The PEERS program was created for group therapy. However, Dr. Arnold is teaching the concepts through individual therapy sessions to make the program affordable through insurance.

Dr. Arnold is a Certified Provider of the UCLA PEERS program!


 What is the PEERS program?

Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills

The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) was originally developed at UCLA by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, and Dr. Fred Frankel in 2005 and has expanded to locations across the United States and the world. PEERS is a manualized, social skills training intervention for adolescents and young adults. It has a strong evidence-base for use with teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorders, but is also appropriate for teens and young adults with ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other socioemotional problems. (excerpt from UCLA PEERS website)

What is the research on the PEERS program? click here to learn more

PEERS is the only research supported program teaching relationship skills to autistic middle school and high school age individuals. The research shows maintained improvement in relationship skills and self esteem at 1, 3, and 5 year follow up. The program is 14 weeks long and requires active participation from one Parent Coach as well as the student. Research does not support completing this program multiple times, meaning that going through the program 1 time is sufficient to gain these skills.

What skills does the PEERS program teach?

  • Introducing yourself
  • Choosing Appropriate Friends
  • Appropriate Use of Humor
  • Conversational Skills – 2 Way Conversations
  • Conversational Skills – Electronic Communication
  • Entering A Conversation
  • Exiting A Conversation
  • Having Get-Togethers
  • Good Sportsmanship
  • Dealing with Teasing and Embarrassing Feedback
  • Dealing with Bullying
  • Dealing with a Bad Reputation
  • Handling Disagreements
  • Handling Rumors and Gossip

Is this program respectful of my child’s unique differences?

Yes! Dr. Arnold is a strong proponent of the Neurodiversity movement. PEERS founder, Dr. Laugeson has worked with Alex Plank (founder of Wrong Planet) as well as the Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) to make sure that we are working to strengthen skills, as opposed to shaming, blaming or ‘fixing’ autistic characteristics. It was founded through researching successful social interactions, and outlining the steps that research finds results in successful social interactions.

Is this program right for my teen / young adult?

  • Is your child currently self-motivated to learn about how to make and keep friends?
    • This program is not appropriate for students whose parents are requiring participation.
  • Is your child’s receptive language and cognitive ability in the average range.
    • If not, research shows the intervention will take longer than 14 weeks.
  • Is your child in middle school or high school?
    • If your young adult has finished high school, this program is not a good fit.
    • Research is being conducted for a young adult curriculum that covers dating and job skills. We will get certification to provide this program when it becomes available from the PEERS team.
    • Enrollment in a school program is not required.
  • Is your child on the Autism Spectrum?
    • A formal diagnosis is not required. However, only students with Autism will be included in the groups.
  • Can an adult commit to being a Parent Coach?
    • 1 adult will need to participate in all sessions.
    • The adult will need to learn the skills and coach the teen outside of therapy sessions.
Dr. Laugeson & Dr. Arnold

Dr. Laugeson & Dr. Arnold