September 7, 2020

Atlanta, GA - The Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) at Georgia State University (GSU) is excited to announce the PEERS Clinic® at GSU. The Program for the Education & Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) Curriculum is a 16-week evidence-based social skills intervention for motivated individuals, who are interested in learning new socialization activities, including how to make and keep friends. PEERS may be appropriate for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression or other social and behavioral disorders.

The PEERS Team at CLD is grateful to Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D., the curriculum developer and colleague from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior at UCLA, for allowing them this opportunity to collaborate and promote this program built from within the UCEDD network. Dr. Laugeson also serves as the Training Director for the UCLA Tarjan Center UCEDD.

The CLD PEERS team has been offering this curriculum since 2018 in groups and individual sessions to teens and young adults. Due to COVID-19, all the social skills programs have moved to a virtual platform, and will continue to be facilitated that way for the foreseeable future. Molly Tucker, one of the nine PEERS-certified providers on staff at CLD says that the move to the virtual domain has allowed them to engage with individuals from across the state and has "eliminated the barrier of transportation for many families. Also, it has allowed for individual sessions to get more personalized supports and attention, and even allowed for us to provide ongoing support to families after a group has finished".

Since April, CLD has facilitated five virtual PEERS groups as well as worked with over 10 families individually. In addition to eliminating transportation barriers and scheduling issues for families, the virtual PEERS sessions have been a welcome experience for teens and young adults who are experiencing higher than usual levels of isolation due to the pandemic.

Moving these sessions online has given the CLD the opportunity to more extensively collaborate with school districts and state agencies. Collaborating with local autism experts, the CLD PEERS team anticipates expanding the use of PEERS throughout metro-Atlanta and the state. The CLD has also incorporated PEERS into its inclusive postsecondary program, IDEAL - Inclusive Digital Expression and Literacy. Two groups were led this summer with current IDEAL students as part of their summer semester, and as an introduction to college for incoming students. The CLD PEERS Team represents expertise in social work, behavior analysis, rehabilitation counseling, school psychology and medicine.

For more information about PEERS, contact Molly Tucker at [email protected].