PEERS® – the social skills course our community’s been waiting for!


I’m Vivian, the Founder of ADHD Support Australia and over the years I’ve lost count of the number of parents who’ve asked me to recommend a social skills program. 


I never found a suitable program for my own daughter and up until recently I’ve been unable to offer you an answer.  I totally understand the heart-felt pain of watching your child struggle with friendships – feeling powerless to help.  It’s simply heart-breaking.


When I heard about the PEERS® program I asked Beverley from PEERS® Australia to present at the December 2018 speaker evening, to explain how teens/young adults with social challenges could be helped by the program.


I was so impressed by what I heard that in January 2019 I completed the PEERS® Young Adult provider training and became a certified provider.  Having my hands full with creating and launching the new ADHD Support Australia website, membership platform and online parenting course, in addition to the usual monthly speaker events and running ADHD Support Australia, I was sadly unable to organise a PEERS® program in 2019. 


In early 2020, I once again had the opportunity to train under Dr Laugeson, this time for the certified PEERS® Adolescent provider training.   


Inspired all over again, and now in a position to create the PEERS® program, that’s just what I’ve done and am now excited to be bringing our community this much-needed program to support our teens/young adults socially!


Benefits of improving social skills


Our kids often don’t view the world quite the same as others do, and therefore often have difficulties navigating the social world, meaning social anxiety is commonplace.


Sometimes their social challenges are almost imperceptible and can appear mild, but that very mildness can make those difficulties all the more severe.   Appropriate social skills help us to connect with others and maintain relationships.


Struggling with social skills can put teens/young adults with social challenges at greater risk of …


* Peer rejection

* Feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety & isolation

* Negative impacts on further study, dating and finding & maintaining employment


Making & keeping friends is crucial – having just one or two friends has been shown to …


* help create resilience to stressful life events

* predict better adjustment in later life

* increase self-esteem/confidence & support independence

* minimise the occurrence of bullying

* decrease the likelihood of depression and anxiety linked to loneliness


There’s no need to label your child as socially awkward.  Switch up your mindset to thinking my child just hasn’t learned those skills yet!


We take social skills for granted and expect our kids to learn by osmosis, but our kids often need a little extra explicit instruction.


PEERS® works by explicitly teaching the skills that come naturally to the more socially adept.


Social skills have rules which can be easily taught, followed and practised to great effect – just like anything else!


Register interest in the PEERS social skills for teens/young adults online program


What is PEERS®?


PEERS® stands for Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills.


The PEERS® program is an internationally acclaimed, evidence-based social skills group program for adolescents and young adults with social challenges.


Originally developed by Dr Elizabeth Laugeson at the University of California (UCLA) PEERS®, the programme has a strong evidence-base for use with adolescents and young adults with Aspergers/ASD, but is also highly appropriate for those with ADHD, anxiety, depression, learning difficulties, those who may be twice exceptional or gifted and talented or indeed anyone experiencing social challenges.


The program assists motivated teens and young adults with social challenges who are interested in learning ways to help them make and keep friends.


Explicitly teaching how to navigate common social challenges allows the formation of more positive relationships.


Teens/Young Adults learn how to …

  • Develop & maintain friendships
  • Improve conversational skills
  • Choose appropriate friends & find common interests
  • Appropriately use electronic forms of communication 
  • Appropriately use humour & assess humour feedback
  • Start, enter & exit conversations between peers
  • Organise successful get-togethers with friends
  • Be a good sport when playing games and/or sports with friends
  • Handle arguments & disagreements with friends
  • Handle rejection, teasing, bullying, rumours/gossip & cyber bullying
  • Change an unwanted reputation
  • Dating Skills (Young Adults Program only)


ADHD Support Australia is excited to be offering PEERS® for Teens or Young Adults as well as a 6-week PEERS Dating Skills Program via Telehealth (online) Sydney time as well as a PEERS for Teens online program in UK time!  To find out when the next program is scheduled please check the Events tab.


 Please add your name here to be send further information.


I’m interested in the PEERS Progam

PEERS® for Teens/Young Adults & Dating Skills program details


PEERS® is a 16-week online program for teens aged 13-17 or young adults aged 18-30 who experience social challenges and are interested in learning new ways of making and keeping friends.

The PEERS Dating Skills 6-week course is for young adults 16-30 and runs in the same way as the other PEERS programs but focusses on conversational and dating skills only.


In weekly 90-minute online small group sessions, teens/young adults are taught important social skills and given the opportunity to practise these skills during socialisation activities in the session.


Parents/caregivers attend online 90-minute weekly small group sessions separately to their teens/young adults and are taught how to become a social coach for their teen/young adult to support them in practicing their new skills at home, coaching them during their weekly socialisation homework assignments and providing feedback.


Sessions are relaxed & fun whilst using evidence-based skill-teaching methods … 


* Small group (6-10 participants)

* Safe environment where everyone finds success

* Didactic instruction (concrete easy to follow rules & steps)

* Socratic questioning method (a question/answer dialogue to draw out ideas) 

* Teaches ecologically valid skills (skills that socially successful people use)

* Correct/Incorrect role play examples

* Role-playing and modelling practice of correct skills (behaviourial rehearsal)

* Perspective-taking questions targeting social cognition

* Social coaching from both course facilitators & parent(s)/carer(s)

* Homework exercises (with parent/carer assistance)

* Each session builds upon the previous week


Meet your social coach


Vivian Dunstan


  • Certified PEERS Adolescent & Young Adult Social Skills course provider
  • Masters of Teaching (Primary)
  • Facilitator of Parenting Children with ADHD 6-week course since 2015
  • Former RAISE mentor
  • Founder & Organiser of ADHD Support Australia
  • Advocating for & supporting the ADHD community since 2013
  • Organiser of 100+ expert ADHD talks
  • Author of ADHD Support Australia’s website
  • Experienced Mum who’s navigated 24 years with an ADHD child, teen and now young adult.



Is PEERS right for my teen/young adult?


Teens/Young Adults must …


  • be between 13-17 (Teens) or 18-30 (Young Adults) or 16-30 (Dating Skills) (for the duration of the course)
  • have social challenges
  • be interested in attending the program
  • agree to participate in the program voluntarily
  • consistently attend the program; and
  • a parent/carer must be willing to participate as the teen’s social coach or for young adults they may nominate a friend/sibling/parent as social coach.


I want to help my teen/young adult improve socially – what now?


To help your teen/young adult improve their social confidence and go on to create and maintain more meaningful connections email me and I will respond with a brief questionnaire and a link for you to book an appointment for an informal confidential 15-minute phone call to assess suitability for the program and to answer any questions you may have.


Following this call, to ensure the PEERS® program is a good fit for your teen/young adult and that they will feel comfortable attending and have positive outcomes, I’ll meet you and your young person one-on-one to understand their needs as well as what your family are seeking to achieve before you enrol in the program.


Register interest in the PEERS social skills online program


I’m Interested

Dr Laugeson videos


PEERS® Research Findings and Program Overview with Dr Laugeson video

Autism Live – Dr Laugeson describing PEERS

How to enter a conversation interview with Dr Laugeson

PEERS® Research


The PEERS® program has been shown to be effective through multiple randomised controlled trials and maintenance of gains 1-5 years after treatment has been evidenced.


Overall, the PEERS® program facilitates developmental, learning and social competencies for individuals with social challenges which may contribute to self-efficacy and well-being. Please find below links to some of the research.


Research Paper: Replication & Extension of the Research Findings for the PEERS® for Adolescents Program

Research Paper: Replication & Extension of the Research Findings for the PEERS® For Young Adults Program

Examination of a Parent-Assisted, Friendship-Building Program for Adolescents With ADHD

Changes in Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescents With ASD Completing the PEERS ® Social Skills Intervention

Brief Report: Reductions in Parenting Stress in the Context of PEERS-A Social Skills Intervention for Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder

A Pilot Study Examining the Effectiveness of the PEERS Program on Social Skills and Anxiety in Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Multicentre, randomised waitlist control trial investigating a parent-assisted social skills group programme for adolescents with brain injuries: protocol for the friends project

Parent and Family Outcomes of PEERS: A Social Skills Intervention for Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Parent-assisted Social Skills Training to Improve Friendships in Teens With Autism Spectrum Disorders

A Review of Social Skills Manuals for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Exploring the Effectiveness of a Peer-Mediated Model of the PEERS Curriculum: A Pilot Randomized Control Trial

Social skills groups for people aged 6 to 21 years with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) Cochrane Collaboration

Parents Perceive Improvements in Socio-emotional Functioning in Adolescents With ASD Following Social Skills Treatment

Measuring the Plasticity of Social Approach: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of the PEERS Intervention on EEG Asymmetry in Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Predicting treatment success in social skills training for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: The UCLA Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills

Long-Term Treatment Outcomes for Parent-Assisted Social Skills Training for Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders: The UCLA PEERS Program

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

Social Skills Training for Young Adults With High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study

Evidence-Based Social Skills Training for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The UCLA PEERS Program

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