This study examined whether the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS: Social skills for teenagers with developmental and autism spectrum disorders: The PEERS treatment manual, Routledge, New York, 2010a) affected neural function, via EEG asymmetry, in a randomized controlled trial of adolescents with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and a group of typically developing adolescents. Adolescents with ASD in PEERS shifted from right-hemisphere gamma-band EEG asymmetry before PEERS to left-hemisphere EEG asymmetry after PEERS, versus a waitlist ASD group. Left-hemisphere EEG asymmetry was associated with more social contacts and knowledge, and fewer symptoms of autism. Adolescents with ASD in PEERS no longer differed from typically developing adolescents in left-dominant EEG asymmetry at post-test. These findings are discussed via the Modifier Model of Autism (Mundy et al. in Res Pract Persons Severe Disabl 32(2):124, 2007), with emphasis on remediating isolation/withdrawal in ASD.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a Research Development Grant and a Regular Research Grant from Marquette University, and a Grant from the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin. We would like to acknowledge undergraduate assistants Chelsea Gasaway, Grand McDonald, Noelle Fritz, Alexandra Reveles, Jenna Kahne, and Janel Wasisco. We also wish to thank Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D., UCLA, for her assistance in starting the PEERS program in Wisconsin, and the families that participated for their time and dedication to clinical research.
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