Forum 2019 Q & A: Introduction to PEERS

Answers provided by Jana Coffee, Special Education Teacher (Bridge Program, Winston Churchill HS) and Megan Sullivan, Special Education Teacher (Asperger Program, Tilden MS).

Q: Which schools are incorporating PEERS & how/when is it being incorporated?

A: (MS) As far as I know, individual teachers choose to incorporate the PEERS curriculum into their classes. At Tilden, I can incorporate it into a 45-minute social skills class.

(JC) At Churchill HS, the PEERS curriculum is used in the twice a month mental health group meetings held with students and school based mental health professionals. I offer a once a week lunchtime ‘club’ where we go over the lesson, and, if time permits, watch or do role play. I also have incorporated some of the lessons into my lessons when it fits the subject. In addition, I use several of the buzzwords and questions when I interact with students.

Q: Is PEERS being used at schools without programs?

: (MS) I am not aware of other schools, without programs, that incorporate this program.

Q: To whom can parents talk to make PEERS happen in schools without programs?

A: (MS) Parent can keep in regular contact with the school through organizations such as the PTA or through regular communication with their child's teacher or counselor. Parents can advocate and encourage the school (i.e. teachers, counselors, administrators) to consider the curriculum. It may be possible that it can be incorporated through an afterschool activity, lunch group, etc.

Q: How can the parents be taught or get involved to help improve the likelihood of success?

A: (MS) If a teacher is using PEERS curriculum, parents can request to receive the supplemental parent information from the teacher. Or, the parent could purchase the PEERS curriculum and follow up with the lessons at home. Parents can reinforce concepts (social coaching) from PEERS and encourage their children to call other children, arrange get-togethers, etc.

(JC) Practice the homework when it is sent home. Remember the “what could be the problem with…” answer (Socratic Method) instead of telling a student the answer or idea they have is wrong. Buy the book and read it-the training is not necessary (though very helpful) in implementing the curriculum.

Q: Who plays the role of the coach in the school-based model — parents or teachers?

A: (MS) Both parents and teachers can play this role. Typically the teacher is the social coach while the student is in school and the parent can continue this coaching at home.

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