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 youth with social challenges.
There are four options for getting training in PEERS. (1) The PEERS Certified Training Seminar last two days and is hosted at UCLA. It is designed specifically for mental health professionals and educators interested in learning and/or implementing the PEERS intervention into their clinical practice. (2) PEERS provides off-site training seminars, presentations or talks for a variety of agencies based on their specific needs. These may range from 1-4 days, with varying costs. (3) The PEERS Certified School-based Training for Educators is designed exclusively for teachers, school psychologists, counselors, speech and language pathologists, administrators, and school-based professionals who are interested in learning to implement The PEERS Curriculum for School-based Professionals. Attendees will obtain 24 hours of training over 3 days and this training also takes place at UCLA. And (4) PEERS provides off-site School-based training seminars, presentations or talks for a variety of agencies based on their specific needs. These may range from 1-4 days, with varying costs.
The PEERS program naturally lends itself to sex ed instruction. For example, the adolescent program focuses on
- How to use appropriate conversational skills
- How to find common interests by trading information
- How to appropriately use humor
- How to enter and exit conversations between peers
- How to be a good host during get-togethers
- How to make phone calls to friends
- How to choose appropriate friends
- How to be a good sport
- How to handle arguments and disagreements
- How to change a bad reputation
- How to handle rejection, teasing, and bullying
- How to handle rumors and gossip
This video features a program that uses PEERS for sex ed
During week 4, we focused on understanding crushes.
There were three activities for the participants this week:
What is a crush?
The participants first brainstormed things that a person with a crush might feel or think. Participants had different levels of understanding on what having a crush meant to them. The purpose of this activity was to help the participants to understand that crushes are a special set of thoughts and feelings about another person. We later discussed thoughts and ideas that the group may have that may be unsafe when it comes to having a crush.
How to deal with a crush?
We used three videos to help the participants to understand how to deal with a crush. The videos covered these topics: What if you like a friend, How to tell if a guy likes you, and How to get a guys attention. These videos give concrete ways to deal with a crush.
Turning someone down
We used a video about how to say no to deal with a variety of situations when it comes to turning someone down.
For more information and activities on crushes visit our Human Sexuality 101 Week 5- Crushes and Adult Human Sexuality Week 3- Crushes curriculum
This Week’s Material
Week 4 Powerpoint
Social Signals ($159.oo) is a series of videos and curriculum are designed to teach adolescent students with autism and intellectual disability about safe relationship skills. There is also a parent curriculum for $23.99. They have a sample video and lesson available for free so you can preview before you purchase. I liked the video. I like to teach about expected and unexpected behaviors and I think these videos could be a good tool. There are also sample lessons that accompany the videos.
Here is an example of a five point scale that was developed by April Keaton, LCSW, to explain the different levels of relationships. The pyramid shape was used to convey that you might have a lot of “friendly acquaintances” but much fewer “long term relationships”. It was important for this person to connect the level of the relationship with the level of intimacy so you see examples of intimate behaviors at each level of the pyramid. There’s also an element of time built into the descriptions. You wouldn’t have to start with pyramid filled out. You could start with a blank pyramid and support an individual with filling in the levels. You could add names of individuals at each level. You can download the pdf of this image by clicking here.
In the crushes unit of Human Sexuality 101 for middle school, we used this video on handling a crush. We were talking about this during The Birds and the Bees workshop in Champaign today and it reminded me that I should probably highlight this resource on its own.
The How to be in Middle School series covers topics such as how to invite someone to a dance, how to go to a dance, first kiss, handling kissing games, and many more topics (including less relationshipy videos like how to clean your room quickly). The videos present clear rules and how to guides. We planned an activity around the rules in our group.
Here is an activity you may want to try out for teaching about joking in context. Joking is really difficult because it’s very nuanced. It can be a great way to connect with people but also hurtful. I also think it is difficult because of the educational context- jokes that aren’t appropriate at school, work, etc. It might be okay in some places but it feels weird saying- “yeah, it’s okay to tell fart jokes with your friends.” It really easy to cross over from actual social skills to formal social skills.
I’m really excited about this free curriculum, “Sexuality Across the Lifespan” by: DiAnn L. Baxley and Anna L. Zendell. It has versions for educators, teachers, and Spanish speakers. You can view the curriculum by clicking on the links below.
What makes this special? They do a nice job at adjusting lessons for different age groups, giving ideas for supplemental activities, and giving ideas for incorporating the topics into routines. The parent version really focuses on how to reinforce healthy sexual development through interactions and daily routines.
This curriculum in not comprehensive but does have sections on social skills, dating, sexual abuse, puberty, and anatomy. I hope you find this useful!
Many of the teaching strategies that you use when teaching human sexuality you also use in many other contexts. Autism Internet Modules can help you learn teaching strategies like the ones listed below (currently they have 37 modules and they are always adding more). The modules give a really complete overview (they can be a little boring but overall they are very helpful). Some these may be a review but others may be something you have heard of but aren’t quite sure what it really is. What’s especially nice is often the expert who developed the technique is the one teaching the module. Just a little warning- you do have to set up a log in. Many of these interventions have been specifically developed for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders- but not all of them!
Antecedent-Based Interventions (ABI) – Differential Reinforcement – Extinction – Functional Communication Training – Language and Communication – Naturalistic Intervention – Overview of Social Skills Functioning and Programming – Parent-Implemented Intervention – Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention (PMII) – Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) – Pivotal Response Training (PRT) – Preparing Individuals for Employment – Prompting – Reinforcement – Repetitive Patterns of Behavior, Interests, and Activities – Response Interruption/Redirection – Rules and Routines – Self-Management – Social Narratives – Social Skills Groups – Social Supports for Transition-Aged Individuals – The Incredible 5-Point Scale – Visual Supports
For those of you who attended the workshop, in the workbook starting on page 34 there is a table with examples of strategies. Some of the strategies come from Autism Internet Modules.
I had a great time in Rockford at The Birds and the Bees workshop. I always feel like I learn so much each time I do a workshop. I got to meet a lot of interesting folks and I hope people walked away with a few things to think about. One thing that people asked for was some video showing what education might actually look like. I haven’t been able to find a great video yet, but I did find a web series that is really interesting called “The Specials”. It is made in the UK and follows five young adults as they transition out of school and into a group home. It is really interesting and touches on topics of sexuality. Worth checking out. http://www.the-specials.com/episodes
Unfortunately- the website just has excerpts from the show and the DVDs aren’t available for purchase yet in the US. The excerpts are rather long and sometimes the full ones pop up on You Tube so keep an eye out.
This is a social narrative in comic strip form. It supports initiating social interactions. One strip is for people you don’t know at all and the other strip is for people you know a little. I would use this in combination with role playing (can you tell I like role playing?). Over initiating and under initiating can both be a problem. This is geared more towards encouraging initiation, but it could be used to help establish boundaries too. The YAI relationship videos also cover some of this information. Click here to get as a pdf: How do I even start
You might have seen this visual aid at the workshop. Often folks don’t understand why something as simple as looking at someone else may get them into trouble. This visual support explains how the other person might feel as well as what they can do in various situations. Click on the link if you would like to view this image as a pdf (feel free to copy and use it for educational purposes).
My looking guide.