autism spectrum disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Every teen on the spectrum has unique talents, challenges, and abilities. We understand how important it is to tailor treatment to your child’s needs. At The Forum, our skills group for adolescents with autism is rooted in a world-renowned, highly effective approach. 

Social and
Behavioral Challenges

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Understanding Autism

Teens diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience significant difficulties with communication, socialization, and emotion regulation. Adolescents with ASD have their own specific preferences for how they learn, react, and process new information. Teenagers on the spectrum typically exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Problems forming friendships
  • Mistaking social cues and/or body language
  • Misinterpreting conversations
  • Finding it easier to form friendships online
  • Withdrawal from the outside world
  • Poor eye contact
  • Expressing that they “don’t fit in”
  • Overall difficulty expressing and identifying feelings/emotions
  • Significant mood-related changes
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Irritability, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating
  • Challenges adjusting to expectations at school
  • Difficulty with planning, organization at school and at home
  • Experiencing sensory overload (e.g. finding the noise of school overwhelming)
  • Difficulty coping with crowds
  • Sensitive to touch

Help for Teens on the Spectrum

The Forum offers a 16-week, evidence-based program for teens on the spectrum. In the PEERS® Social Skills Group for Adolescents, your child will learn important social skills, including how to:

  • Start, hold, and finish conversations
  • Manage their reputation
  • Find common interests with others
  • Make new friends
  • Deal with disagreements and rejection
  • Use appropriate humor
  • Overcome peer pressure
  • Organize and host get-togethers with friends
  • Communicate electronically
  • Maintain friendships over time
  • Handle bullying and teasing

PEERS® is ideal for middle- and high-school-aged teens who need help making friends, handling conflict, and mastering conversation skills. Lessons are delivered through a combination of instruction, role play, and hands-on practice sessions. As teens try out these skills in our in-depth practice scenarios, they receive one-on-one coaching from The Forum’s staff.

The PEERS® program also includes a complementary track for parents. During these sessions, parents will learn how to coach and provide feedback for their children outside of group meetings.

In addition to utilizing this approach for autism spectrum disorder, the skills and techniques implemented in the PEERS® program are highly effective for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and other socio-emotional problems.

It's Time For Things To Get Better.

Expert Care

Joanna Savarese, Ph.D., is The Forum’s executive director and supervising clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist. In her 17 years of graduate and post-graduate experience, Dr. Savarese has worked with an array of clinical populations, including those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, depression, anxiety, OCD, and more. Through her ongoing involvement with teens on the spectrum, Dr. Savarese and her team have become one of San Diego’s premier treatment and assessment providers for adolescents with ASD.

With expert intervention, your teen will develop the skills needed to succeed. Contact The Forum to make an appointment today.