Social Skills Success for Students with Autism/Asperger's: How to Teach Conversation Skills, Prevent Meltdowns, and Help Kids Fit In
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More About This Title Social Skills Success for Students with Autism/Asperger's: How to Teach Conversation Skills, Prevent Meltdowns, and Help Kids Fit In


The only evidence-based program available for teaching social skills to adolescents with autism spectrum disorders

Two nationally known experts in friendship formation and anxiety management address the social challenges faced by adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The book helps educators instruct youth on conversing with others, displaying appropriate body language, managing anxiety, initiating and participating in get-togethers, and more. The book is filled with helpful information on ASD to aid teachers who have received little training on the topic. Extremely practical, the book includes lesson plans, checklists, and sidebars with helpful advice.

  • Based on UCLA's acclaimed PEERS program, the only evidence-based approach to teaching social skills to adolescents with ASD
  • Contains best practices for working with parents, which is the key to helping kids learn social skills
  • The authors discuss the pros and cons of teaching students with ASD in educational settings like full inclusion (good for academics but bad for social skills) and pull-out special day classes (where the reverse is true)

Provides a much-needed book for teachers at all levels for helping students develop the skills they need to be successful.


Fred Frankel, Ph.D., is a professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the director of the UCLA Parent Training and Children's Friendship Programs. A coauthor of UCLA's acclaimed PEERS social skills training program and the author of Friends Forever: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Make and Keep Good Friends, he speaks regularly on the topic of autism and social skills to professionals and parents alike. More information is available at 

Jeffrey J. Wood, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Education and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA, and is a licensed clinical psychologist. He is the coauthor of Child Anxiety Disorders and is researching cognitive-behavioral interventions for students with autism and Asperger's syndrome, childhood anxiety, and the development of children's close friendships.




Our Approach to Social Skills Training

The Knowledge Base Behind This Book

Children's Friendship Training/PEERS

Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies for Emotional Self-Regulation

The Purpose of This Book

How to Use This Book

Part One: Basic Information About Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chapter 1: What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Challenges Facing Neurotypical Teens

Becoming Independent from Parents

Preparing for a Vocation or Career

Adjusting to the Physical and Psychosexual Changes of Puberty

Developing Values and Identity

Establishing Effective Relationships with Peers

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Misleading Aspects of Communication

Deficits in Expression and Communication

Easily Corrected Deficits in Understanding Others

Coping with Anxiety-Producing Situations

Chapter 2: Making Inclusion More Successful for Students with Autism

History of the Inclusion Movement

Parent Views About Inclusion

Types of Educational Placement

Traditional Teacher Roles in Partially and Fully Included Classrooms

Research Findings on Inclusion

Social Integration into School Life

Mainstream Success of Students on the Autism Spectrum

Approaches for Social Inclusion with Neurotypical Teens

Teen Altruism

Chapter 3: Classroom Management and Social Skills Groups

Classroom Management for Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Segregated Students

Partially Included Students

Fully Included Students

Consequences for Misbehavior

Organizing Social Skills Groups for Teens

How to Organize Groups at School

How to Have Teens Take the Class

How to Engage Teens in Class Discussions

Have Some Fun Activities

Have “Real-Life” Homework

Involving Parents in Social Skills Training

Part Two: Interventions for Basic Social Skills

Chapter 4: Helping Students Expand Their Interests

Problems in Conversation Versus Problems in Interests

Socially Functional Interests

Interference Due to Anxiety

Building on Current Interests

Assessing Teen Interests

Lessons to Expand Interests

Chapter 5: Improving Comprehension of Figurative Language


Irony and Sarcasm

Types of Sarcasm

Recognizing Sarcasm

Teaching Sarcasm and Irony

Chapter 6: Improving Conversational Comprehension

Goals of Conversations

Ensuring Mutual Understanding

Conversational Repair Strategies

Teaching Better Task-Oriented Conversations, Accuracy Checks, and Repair Statements

Chapter 7: Improving Social Conversations

Potential Understanding of Conversational Goals

Small Talk

Parts of Conversations

Chapter 8: Helping Students Choose Friends

Neurotypical Teen Relationships

Friends of Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders

The Internet and Friendships

Appropriate Friends for Teens on the Spectrum

Common Errors Adults Make in Offering Friendship Help

Requiring Inclusion

Attempting to Pair Students

Assigning Peer Buddies

How Educators Can Help Foster Friendships of Teens on the Spectrum

Part Three: More Intensive Interventions to Help Kids Fit In

Chapter 9: Understanding and Assessing Anxiety

How Anxiety Works

Clinical Levels of Anxiety

How Anxiety Exacerbates Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Outbursts and Meltdowns

Types of Anxiety in Students with Autism

Social Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

Assessing Anxiety

Chapter 10: Interventions to Reduce Anxiety and Outbursts

Phase I: Skill Building

Knowing I’m Nervous

Irritating Thoughts

Calm Thoughts

Keep Practicing

Phase II: Practicing the Skills

Lesson Plans

Chapter 11: Preventing and Dealing with Victimization

Types of Victimization


Physical Aggression



Effective Ways of Handling Bullying

Teaching Safety

Improving Reputation Among Peers

Informal Approaches to Head Off Continuing Bullying

Effective Ways of Handling Cyberbullying

Chapter 12: Working with Peer Mentors

Commonly Used Alternatives to Mentoring

Job Description of the Cross-Age Mentor

Step 1: Selecting Mentors

Step 2: Selecting Mentees

Step 3: Mentor Orientation

Step 4: Matching Mentor and Mentee

Step 5: The Mentorship Term

Step 6: Assessment

Conclusion: Helping Kids with Autism Find Their Own Place in the World