Skills for life

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


The project will create an opportunity for young people with autism to access support that will help to increase their social skills and social confidence. Difficulties in social interaction is one of the defining characteristics of autism and one of the most difficult areas for individuals with the condition. Teens with autism can find it hard to make and keep friendships. They may have trouble working out what other people are thinking and feeling; understanding facial expressions and body language; adjusting to new social situations; solving social problems; understanding unwritten social rules; and sharing interests with other teenagers.

The PEERS project will deliver 8 six-week social skills programmes in various locations across NI. The groups will support teens with autism between the ages of 13-18. With 10 young people involved in each group a total of 80 young people with autism as direct beneficiaries will be supported. The project will also have indirect beneficiaries as families, schools and others will reap the benefits of these young people having increased skills. These benefits could include a willingness to partake with others across all environments, reduced behaviour challenges, and increased involvement for all. The programmes will create an opportunity for the young people to access specific evidence-based practice to help them. This is not available from statutory agencies or any other group in NI.

The PEERS project will teach the young people about topics such as confidence building, friendship, anger management, anxiety/emotional regulation. These important skills help with all aspects of their lives. Increased social skills will give the young people with autism the opportunity; to access the community in which they live; to access activities/community services alongside their peer group; to make friends when they are able to partake in social activities helping to reduce their isolation; to be an integral part of their community.

Helping to improve skills that could support the young people be more included in society (education, social, sports & leisure, employment) will enable them to lead a good and meaningful life as social skills have been directly linked to academic and relationship success.
In working with children/young people through PEAT’s existing services we are fully aware of the areas of difficulty, confirmed by anecdotal evidence from their parents/caregivers.

Services for autism in NI are scarce with a gap in service provision to support young people with autism.

Vote for our project as social skills is one of the main deficits associated with autism that impacts greatly on overall functioning and everyday life. Many people think that social skills is only verbal communication however they encompass every aspect of our lives to interact both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, and body language. Services for autism in NI are scarce with little to no support for this particular age group - many face exclusion and social isolation.

PEAT staff. for the service delivery of this project are trained to international standards; we will reach out to our local universities for students in relevant disciplines as a volunteering opportunity. Without PEAT’s delivery the young people with autism would be unable to access this type of project that reaches out across the province into their own local communities

PEAT is a non-funded charity so without funding for the project it could not proceed. This project would help make a real difference to the lives of our young people with autism. Teenage social relationships can be complicated, this is even more so for those on the autism spectrum. The project will help these young people practice the social skills they need for a positive social life and PEAT has a long-standing history of successful projects in the field of autism and positive behaviour support.

Parents Education as Autism Therapists (PEAT)

Moment of Pride

Despite the absence of government funding PEAT have helped numerous families in all communities in NI for the past two decades. Our passionate staff are dedicated to helping children/young people with autism to achieve their full potential by seeing the individual and not their diagnosis.

Location: Northern Ireland, UK