The content of interventions targeting social behavior is sensitive to cultural differences in etiquette and societal customs. Here we describe (1) the process of linguistic and cultural adaptation of the PEERS® social skills program to the Dutch language and culture, and (2) the results from a preliminary adaptation test among 32 adolescents (12–18 years old) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although some important cultural adaptations were made, the similarities in effective social behaviors across cultures were most striking. At post-test, autistic adolescents significantly improved their social skills knowledge. In addition, parent-reported and self-reported social engagement (hosted get-togethers) increased. Also, social skill impairment decreased according to parent-reports. Of the 32 adolescents who completed the program, 31% (n = 10) achieved a clinically significant change on the SRS-2 (ΔSRS-2 > 11.12). Future research examining the effectiveness of the Dutch version of PEERS® should include a larger randomized controlled trial, for which we provide several methodological considerations.

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Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology