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Teaching autistic teens to cope
Date:6/12/2012

Teenagers with autism spectrum disorder are in a bind. The disorder is characterized by impairments in communication and social interaction, but it's a continuum, so some teens diagnosed with ASD are considered high functioning and healthy enough to be "mainstreamed" in school.

But without the proper social skills, even mainstreamed teens don't quite fit into the general social milieu of middle school or high school. As a result, they suffer from all the slings and arrows of that world.

Since 2006, however, the UCLA PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) clinic has assisted high-functioning teens with ASD by literally teaching them the strategies they need to fit in better with their peers. And while previous research demonstrated that the program was effective, it wasn't known whether the new skills "stuck" with these teens after they completed the PEERS classes.

In the current edition of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Elizabeth Laugeson, director of the PEERS Clinic and a UCLA assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, and colleagues report that in a long-term follow-up study, they found that the skills taught and learned stayed with the kids and in some cases even improved.

ASD includes a range of pervasive developmental disorders characterized by problems with communication and socialization; it's estimated that one in 88 children born in the United States has some form of ASD.

The researchers' findings show that the PEERS intervention resulted in significant improvements in social skills, as reported by parents and teachers using standardized measurements of social functioning. Reports from parents also suggested that teens' ASD symptoms related to social responsiveness decreased significantly by the end of the class and even at the long-term, 14-week follow-up. In addition, the teens' knowledge of social skills improved, as did the frequency
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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