What is this study about?

For youth with acquired brain injuries (ABI) or cerebral palsy (CP), making friends and maintaining social networks can be a major challenge. This study will use an evidence based parent assisted social skills training program (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills: PEERS) with youth with either ABI or CP. The study aims to determine if the PEERS program can improve social skills and the ability to make and maintain friendships for youth with ABI or CP. It will also explore the youth’s and their caregiver’s experience of the program. We have completed two groups in 2018 and are now recruiting for groups in 2019.

Who can participate?

Youth who:

  • are 11 to 17 years of age and attend mainstream high school
  • have a diagnosis of acquired brain injury (at least 12 months post ABI) or cerebral palsy
  • have difficulty with social skills and making and maintaining friendships

Who is not eligible to participate?

Youth who:

  • have uncontrolled epilepsy
  • have severe visual or auditory impairment
  • are non-verbal

What is involved?

You will attend a screening interview to confirm eligibility and interest in the study. You will then complete assessments at the beginning of the study, following the completion of the PEERS program and then again three months later. The PEERS program is comprised of 14 weekly sessions of 90 minutes duration, led by a therapist /psychologist. PEERS is delivered to groups of 10 youth, while a concurrent parent group is run in a different room.


  • The program may enhance your child’s social skills and help develop their skills to make and keep friends. As a result this may improve their long term psychological well being and quality of life.
  • You will be assisting us to gather information that may influence the way social skills training for youth with CP or ABI is delivered and provide better outcomes for their future.


This project is funded by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission Queensland.

Chief Investigators

Dr Leanne Sakzewski, Ms Rose Gilmore, Ms Nicola Hilton, Dr Sarah McIntyre, Dr Hayley Smithers-Sheedy, Dr Tracey Williams, Ms Anne-Maree Sarandea, Dr Elizabeth Laugeson, Dr Elise Davis

Project members

Associate Professor Leanne Sakzewski

NHMRC Career Development Fellow (Occupational Therapy)