Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 88 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kristin V Christodulu

Committee Members

Melissa L Rinaldi, Elana Gordis


assessment, autism, intervention, PEERS, performance-based, social skills, Youth with autism spectrum disorders, Social skills in adolescence, Social skills

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Psychology


The present study examines the efficacy of a trial of the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS; Laugeson & Frankel, 2010), which is a manualized group social skills intervention designed to improve the social functioning of teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Specifically, the study examined the use of performance-based outcome measures (in addition to traditional report measures) to assess the social skills of teens participating in the PEERS intervention. These performance-based measures of social skills included the Social Performance Rating Scale (SPRS; Fydrich, Chambless, Perry, Buergener, & Beazley, 1998), in which observers rated participants' social and conversation skills during a semi-structured conversation task, and the Faux Pas Recognition Test--Adult Version (Stone, Baron-Cohen, & Knight, 1998), which measures participants' ability to detect social blunders and understand the perspective of characters presented in different social vignettes. Eleven teens with ASD, ages 12-17, were assigned to either an immediate treatment group (n = 6) or a delayed treatment control (DTC) group (n = 5) matched random assignment. Due to time constraints for the research project, a condensed format of the PEERS intervention (i.e., two 90-minute sessions per week, over seven weeks) was administered to participants. Although results indicated that there were no significant differences in social performance on the SPRS or Faux Pas Recognition Test between conditions, teens in the immediate treatment group demonstrated significantly improved knowledge of social skills compared to the teens in the DTC group. The implications of these findings, the utility of performance-based measures for assessing social skill attainment, and future directions for research are discussed.