ASERT is recruiting young adults ages 18-35 with Asperger's syndrome or high functioning autism to participate in a 16 week research study designed to enhance their social skills. The study is also recruiting peers volunteers in the same age group who do not have autism. Groups will be held in Hershey, PA beginning in May 2014.
Information for participants with autism:
Young adults (ages 18-35 years) will participate in a 16 week research study designed to enhance their social skills. The study takes a goal-oriented approach targeting specific problem areas of social competence. There are two parts of the study program: 1) group study visits and 2) peer generalization in the form of community outings with typically developing peers.
During group study visits, a group of six young adults with Asperger's Syndrome or high-functioning autism will meet weekly for about 90 minutes. The purpose of the group sessions is to work on everyday social skills such as initiating and maintaining conversations, establishing friendships, and dealing with situations such as job interviews and dating. There will be several sessions we will ask that the participants are videotaped having short conversations with a peer, and then the participant will privately review the video with a group leader to get feedback.
A generalization session will be held every week after the group therapy session with same-age peers who have been screened to participate in the study. The purpose of including peer volunteers in the class is to give young adults with Asperger's syndrome and high-functioning autism a chance to practice the social skills learned in the group study visit with a peer group. Study participants will be paired with a typically developing peer for an outing in the community to a nearby restaurant or shop or an in-class exercise such as a mock job interview.
The groups will meet once weekly, on either Monday or Tuesday evenings from 5 – 8 pm or 5:30-8:30pm (exact dates and times to be determined). The intervention is 16 weeks long.
Individuals interested in participating in this study will need to attend a meeting to review the consent form and complete several questionnaires, and also bring a parent, caregiver, or someone else close to them to fill out questionnaires. This meeting will take approximately 3 hours and will take place at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine.
Information for typically developing peer volunteers:
We are seeking volunteers for an upcoming research project to spend time with adults with autism to help them generalize social skills. Each week’s session lasts approximately 3 hours in the evening, but volunteers will only be needed for the last 90 minutes of the session. The first 90 minutes are devoted to group instruction of new skills using video modeling, including skill building in social approach, workplace relationships, personal relationships, and barriers to social interactions. The second 90 minutes is a peer generalization component to reinforce and practice skills taught during the first part. Same-age peers (volunteers) will join the participants for social outings in local community settings (e.g., restaurants, shops) or in-class exercises such as mock job interviews and game nights.
The groups will meet once weekly, on either Monday or Tuesday evenings from 6:30–8 pm or 7-8:30pm (exact dates and times to be determined). The intervention is 16 weeks long, but we ask that peer volunteers commit to at least 8 weeks if possible. Individuals interested in volunteering for this study will need to attend a meeting to review the consent form and complete several questionnaires. This meeting will take approximately 1 hour and will take place at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine.
For more information or to enroll, contact Krina Durica at 717-531-0003 ext. 286286 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or email socialskills@PAautism.org with general questions.