Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 12, pp 3978–3989 | Cite as

A Randomized Controlled Trial to Improve Social Skills in Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The UCLA PEERS® Program

  • Elizabeth A. Laugeson
  • Alexander Gantman
  • Steven K. Kapp
  • Kaely Orenski
  • Ruth Ellingsen
S.I. : ASD in Adulthood: Comorbidity and Intervention


Research suggests that impaired social skills are often the most significant challenge for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet few evidence-based social skills interventions exist for adults on the spectrum. This replication trial tested the effectiveness of PEERS, a caregiver-assisted social skills program for high-functioning young adults with ASD. Using a randomized controlled design, 22 young adults 18–24 years of age were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 12) or delayed treatment control (n = 10) group. Results revealed that the treatment group improved significantly in overall social skills, frequency of social engagement, and social skills knowledge, and significantly reduced ASD symptoms related to social responsiveness following PEERS. Most treatment gains were maintained at a 16-week follow-up assessment with new improvements observed.


PEERS Social skills Autism spectrum disorder Adults Friendship Dating 



The authors would like to thank Fred Frankel, Andrew Leuchter, Jennifer Sanderson, Shannon Bates, Lara Tucci, Dana Lieberman, Sebastián Torres, Laura Knoll, Kristine McGlennen, and Siena Whitham for their valuable assistance on this study. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the families who participated in this study. This research was supported by NIH Training Grant #T32-MH17140, Andrew Leuchter, Principal Investigator. The writing of this paper was partially supported by Organization for Autism Research Grant #20093336, Alexander Gantman, Project Principal Investigator.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Laugeson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexander Gantman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Steven K. Kapp
    • 1
    • 3
  • Kaely Orenski
    • 1
    • 4
  • Ruth Ellingsen
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human BehaviorUCLALos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.The Help Group−UCLA Autism Research AllianceUCLALos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Division of Human Development and Psychology, Graduate School of Education and Information StudiesUCLALos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Alliant International UniversityAlhambraUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUCLALos AngelesUSA

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