Strait Regional School Board Staff Attend PEERS® Boot Camp

Carolyn Derrah Murphy, Chignecto-Central Regional School Board; Nicole Samson-Savoury, Conseil scolaire acadien provincial; Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson; and Annamarie Talbot, Strait Regional School Board (l to r) prior to the workshop.

On Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 43 staff from the Strait Regional School Board along with 32 invited colleagues had the opportunity to learn from University of California renowned expert Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson during a day-long professional development workshop entitled PEERS® Boot Camp: Evidence-based Social Skills Training for Teachers Supporting Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Annamarie Talbot, Student Services Teacher Leader for the Strait Regional School Board and organizer of the event, explained that youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder have challenges developing social skills in social settings.  “Within the context of solid research, our session focused on the specific rules and steps of social etiquette that promote the development and maintenance of friendships and that help to manage peer conflicts,” said Ms. Talbot.  “I was delighted that Dr. Laugeson was available to share her insights and expertise.  Participants gained valuable information and training that they can immediately use to support our youth, implement in their classrooms and share with their respective teams,” added Ms. Talbot.

Strait Regional School Board staff were joined by local partners including representatives from the Cape Breton District and Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authorities, the Nova Scotia Community College (Strait Campus) as well as colleagues from the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, Conseil scolaire acadien provincial and local adult service centres.

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California (UCLA) Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. As co-developer of PEERS®, she is the author of two treatment manuals, one parent book, and is the Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS® Clinic and Director of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance.

The workshop was organized in partnership with the Cape Breton Victoria, Annapolis Valley, South Shore and Strait Regional School Boards with support from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.