- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome Who Present Behavioral Challenges
- A Brief Explanation of Discrete Trial Training
- Applied Behavior Analysis: A Focus on Outcomes
- A Challenge to Reframe our Thinking About Behavior
- Concerning Consequences: What Do I Do When...?
- Consequences, Behavior, and My Birds
- Don't Forget About Self Management
- Ever Had a Crisis Kind of Day?
- Movement Difference: A Closer Look at the Possibilities
- Movement Differences Among Some People with Autism: an Impetus to Re-Examine Behavioral Issues
- Observing Behavior Using A-B-C Data
- Positive Behavior Supports Creating Meaningful Life Options for People with ASD
- Ten Steps Towards Supporting Appropriate Behavior
- The Challenge of Combining Competing Input in the Classroom
- "Your Attitude Just Might Be My Biggest Barrier"
- Applied Behavior Analysis: The Role of Task Analysis and Chaining
- Tips for Choosing a Provider for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- What to Consider When Looking for a Qualified ABA Provider
- Assessment Day: Questions About the Communication Development of Your Young Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- “If They Could Only Tell Me What They Are Thinking.” The Need for Augmentative Communication for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Aiding Comprehension of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During One-on-One Interactions
- Can Social Pragmatic Skills Be Tested?
- Comprehension of the Message: Important Considerations for Following Directions
- First Steps and the Journey to a Diagnosis of ASD for a Child under Three
- Functional Categories of Delayed Echolalia
- Functional Categories of Immediate Echolalia
- Initial Guidelines for Developing a Communication Intervention Plan for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Significant Limitations in Communication Ability
- Long and Short Term Strategies for Reducing Specific Repetitive Questions
- Successfully Using PECS with Children with ASD
- Meeting the Challenge of Social Pragmatics with Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Opportunity to Communicate: A Crucial Aspect of Fostering Communication Development
- Reading with Your School-Age Child: Building Vocabulary One Word at a Time
- Social Communication and Language Characteristics Associated with High Functioning, Verbal Children and Adults with ASD
- The 21st Century Speech Language Pathologist and Integrated Services in Classrooms
- The High Functioning Person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A "Tourist" in His Native Country
- The Role of the School Speech Language Pathologist and the Student with Autism
- Using a Visual Support to Enhance WH Question
- Visual Resources for Enhancing Communication for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities
- Visual Schedules and Choice Boards: Avoid Misinterpretation of their Primary Functions
- Visual Supports: Sources for Symbols for Receptive and Expressive Communication
- What is the Picture Exchange Communication System or PECS?
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- PICO - A Decision Making Tool For Selecting Apps
- Helping Your Child to Develop Communication Skills
- Evidence-Based Practices for Effective Communication and Social Intervention
- Important Predictors
- The Use of Technology in Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Collaborative Teaming
- Educational Programming
- Academic Supports for College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Advice from Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Teachers Regarding Literacy Instruction
- Advice for Peer Tutors
- Applying the Ziggurat and CAPS Model in Your School District
- Aspects of Support for Learning
- A Young Adult's Guide to Deep Breathing as a Relaxation Technique: A Personalized Fact Sheet
- Can Schedule Usage Training Include Elements of Literacy Instruction?
- Clean Up Your Act! Creating an Organized Classroom Environment for Students on the Spectrum.
- Change is Good! Supporting Students on the Autism Spectrum when Introducing Novelty
- Classroom Choreography: The Art of Scheduling Staff and Students
- Complexities of Instructional Support
- Creating a Circle of Support
- Critical Features of Early Intervention: Merging Best Practices
- Developing Long Term Relationships Between School and Parents
- Early Intervention for Young Children on the Autism spectrum: Parent’s Perspective
- Educating Students with Autism: Are There Differences in Placement?
- Establishing Long Term Goals: What Are We Hoping to Achieve
- For General Education Teachers: Helpful Questions to Ask About Students with ASD
- Get Engaged: Designing Instructional Activities to Help Students Stay On-Task
- "Ham It Up and Get It Cookin!!" Thoughts From Dr. Greenspan
- Home-School Communication
- "I Can Do It Myself!" Using Work Systems to Build Independence in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- “I Wake Up for MY Dream!” Personal Futures Planning Circles of Support, MAPS and PATH
- Life After High School...So Now What
- Literacy Resources
- Lovaas Revisited: Should We Have Ever Left?
- Making the Most of Morning Meeting
- Motivating Students Who Have Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Moving from Preschool to Kindergarten: Planning for a Successful Transition and New Relationships
- Peer Support Programs
- Promoting the Educational Success of Students with Autism: The Role of the Parent-Staff Relationship
- Planning for Successful Transitions Across Grade Levels
- Practical Steps to Writing Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goals: And Writing Them Well
- Practical Recommendations for Utilizing a Range of Instructional Approaches in General Education Settings
- Recognizing Different Types of Readers with ASD
- Reframing Our Thinking and Getting to Know the Child
- Restricted Repertoires in Autism and What We Can Do About It
- School Cultures that Support Students Across the Autism Spectrum
- Service Learning: Something to Think About
- Supporting Staff Using Coaching Model
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome
- Teaching Students Who Are Low-Functioning: Who Are They and What Should We Teach?
- Theory of Mind in Autism: Development, Implications, and Intervention
- There is No Place Called Inclusion
- The Road to Post-Secondary Education: Questions to Consider
- Tips for Teaching High-Functioning People with Autism
- Tips to Consider When Including a Student with ASD in Art, Music, or Physical Education
- Transition: Preparing for a Lifetime
- Transition to Middle School
- Transition Time: Helping Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Move Successfully from One Activity to Another
- Understanding the Design and Power of a Personal Schedule
- Using Visual Schedules: A Guide for Parents
- Who Are We Working for Anyway? Avoiding Personal Agendas at Meetings to Better Support Individuals Across the Autism Spectrum
- Structured Teaching Strategies: A Series
- Growing Up Together
- How to Open A Combination Lock/Locker
- Supporting Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders Through Postsecondary Transition
- Curriculum Materials and Programs for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Implementation and Effectiveness of Using Video Self-Modeling with Students with ASD
- Video Self-Modeling How To and Examples
- Advocates: Qualities to Look for and Choosing the Correct One for YOU
- Considering an Overnight Camp Program for your Child on the Autism Spectrum?
- Finding or Starting a Support Group
- Making the Most of the Holidays for Your Family and Your Son/Daughter on the Autism Spectrum
- Selected Bibliography for Families of People within the Autism Spectrum
- Selected National Resources for Information on Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Selected Resources for Understanding and Supporting Siblings
- Setting the Stage for Parent-Professional Collaboration
- Siblings Perspectives: Some Guidelines for Parents
- What About the Dads?
- When Your Child is Diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- What to Do If You Suspect Your Son/Daughter Might Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- For Parents: Preparing for the School Year
- Self Help/Medical
- Teaching a Young Man to Shave
- An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders
- The "M" Word
- Mealtime and Children on the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Picky, Fussy, and Fads
- Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite:
- Taking Your Son/Daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to the Dentist
- Teaching a Young Woman to Shave
- Anxiety and Panic Struggles
- Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Having THE Talk with Your Child with ASD
- General Information
- Assessment Processes for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Purpose and Procedures
- Autism Awareness Month: Facts and Tips for Working with Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Diagnostic Criteria for Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder
- Disability Information for Someone who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Customized Example
- Getting Started: Introducing Your Child to His or Her Diagnosis of Autism or Asperger Syndrome
- Increasing Incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Continues in Indiana
- Standardized Tests and Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Article 7, Title 511
- What’s in a Name: Our Only Label Should Be Our Name: Avoiding the Stereotypes
- For Physicians: Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders and Working with Schools
- Behavioral Issues and the Use of Social Stories
- How to “Lose the Training Wheels:” A New Way to Teach Bicycle Riding
- Living in Fear: Anxiety in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Local Community Resources to Enhance Activities
- Making (and Keeping) Friends: A Model for Social Skills Instruction
- Making Camps Accessible for All
- Play in the Lives of Young Children with Autism
- Play Time: An Examination Of Play Intervention Strategies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Social Activity Groups: Another Approach for Helping to Bridge the Friendship Gap
- Teaching Social Skills through Theatre
- The Collective Outcomes of School-Based Social Skill Interventions for Children on the Autism Spectrum
- The Value of Movement Activities for Young Children
- We All Need Exercise
- Finding a Friend in School
- Bullying and Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Incorporating Typical Peers Into the Social Learning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Articles by Temple Grandin
- An Inside View of Autism
- Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome
- Evaluating the Effects of Medication
- Genius May Be an Abnormality: Educating Students with Asperger's Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism
- Making the Transition from the World of School into the World of Work
- Social Problems: Understanding Emotions and Developing Talents
- Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism
Incorporating Typical Peers Into the Social Learning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Contributed by Anna Merrill, Graduate Assistant
For many years, research has investigated the role that typically developing peers may be able to play in the social learning of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This strategy asserts that by nudging adults into secondary roles, peers are then able to model social skills in a naturalistic setting. Now, Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention (PMII) is on the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders list of evidence-based practices. As a result, there are currently many evidence-based social skills training paradigms that involve training peers to work as “buddies” or “tutors” with their classmates on the autism spectrum. Some of the approaches involve training a group of students, the entire class, or assigning an individual student to work with a target classmate with ASD. Generally, children 3 – 8 years of age may benefit best from peer-initiation training that encourages typical peers to organize play, share, help, and praise their peers with ASD. These behaviors encourage the development of communication, language, and basic social skills. Older students, 9 to 18 years old, may focus more on social networking strategies that can be implemented between classes, at lunch, or in other non-classroom settings. Overall, peer-mediated instruction and intervention both adhere to the same principle that by teaching typically developing peers ways to interact with their classmates with ASD more social opportunities for learning can be created. However, there are multiple strategies that can be implemented depending on the needs of a particular student or resources available to a classroom.
Types of Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention
Integrated Play Groups. In this type of intervention an experienced adult guides typical peers and children with ASD in a structured and supportive environment through activities purposefully chosen to encourage interaction. The role of the adult is to establish a consistent schedule, coach the peers through play sessions, and encourage the children on the autism spectrum to stay engaged using cues that the child is familiar with. The involvement of the adult can vary and some groups choose to spend time educating typically developing peers about ASD before the play group begins.
Peer Buddy and Peer Tutors. In this more individual approach, typically developing peers are assigned to be a “tutor” or “buddy” to a specific child on the autism spectrum in their class. The typically developing peer is trained to keep a close eye on their buddy; talking to them, playing with them, and staying by their side. This strategy hopes to create opportunities for natural interactions between children with ASD and their typical peer that encourage incidental learning about social behaviors.
Group-Oriented Contingency. Unlike a buddy or tutor system, this strategy involves training an entire classroom of children on some social skill behaviors and techniques in hopes of promoting supportive behaviors among all of the students in a classroom with one or more children with ASD. This option can be useful when teachers have limited additional personnel, but would like to provide encouragement for the social growth of a student with ASD.
Peer Networks. This intervention trains a group of peers to form a social “network” to provide support for children with ASD in their classroom. Peer networks may learn things such as the communication system used by the child with ASD, how to initiate and maintain conversations, and how to help provide instructions.
Pivotal Response Training (PRT). In PRT, adults can intervene by using role-play to train peers to engage in specific behaviors with children with ASD such as: taking turns, providing narration for play activities, encouraging conversation, and modeling appropriate social behaviors.
Peer Initiation Training. This intervention involves training peers specifically on techniques for initiating interactions with children with ASD such as offering to share, requesting assistance, and strategies for gaining the child’s attention.
Starting a Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention Program in Your School
If you are interested in starting a peer-mediated intervention and instruction program, there are a variety of steps to consider as you work to lay the groundwork for this type of program.
• Gain support from school administrators
• Identify staff that are passionate about helping children with autism spectrum disorders and form a team of adult facilitators
• Identify students with social needs that may benefit from participation in the program
• Work with general education teachers to identify typically-developing peers to participate
• Formally invite typically-developing peers to participate
• Keep training sessions short and at a convenient time (i.e., during lunch)
• Continue meeting with peers so they have a chance to discuss any issues that come up
• Encourage participating peers to extend what they have learned into all parts of their day (i.e., in the hallways, at lunch, and during after school activities)
Who Should Be a Trained Peer?
One important step in establishing peer-mediated instruction and intervention in your school is identifying peers to participate. Participating staff need to consider how they will choose typical peers to train and support their classmate(s) on the autism spectrum. While making their choices, staff should use their judgment to discern which students might be a good fit for the program. They may also consider if there are typical peers that can benefit from participation. When looking for guidance, adults should consider peers that exhibit the following traits:
• Excellent social skills, language, and play skills
• Positive social history with the target child or children with autism spectrum disorders
• Well-liked by the majority their classmates
• Follows teacher and adult instruction
• Ability to attend to tasks and activities for at least 10 minutes
• Willingness to participate
• Good Attendance
The Benefits for Trained Peers and Teachers
While this training is obviously beneficial for students with ASD, the benefits for general education students should not be overlooked. There are numerous positive impacts for the peers and schools involved in peer-mediated instruction and intervention. For example, this type of instruction encourages teamwork and teaches students to develop socially acceptable skills for helping their peers (with autism spectrum disorders or not). This type of instruction promotes understanding and tolerance of those that are different and may even play a role in reducing bullying. Teachers benefit as well by encouraging their students to help each other rather than having all instruction coming from teachers and paraprofessionals.
As it turns out, students enjoy participating as well! One study surveyed children that participated in peer-mediated instruction and intervention as trained typically-developing peers. Eighty-three percent of the children indicated that they “enjoyed it very much,” while the remaining 17% said they “enjoyed it.” Even more encouraging is that 89% reported that their experience as a peer tutor had helped them as well. Children reported a myriad of lessons learned including: a better understanding of autism spectrum disorders, to be more patient, an understanding of people’s differences, self-confidence, responsibility, and to not take things for granted. The positive impact was recognized by their parents as well. Fifty-seven percent of parents indicated that the experience was “important” for their child, while 36% said it was “extremely important,” (Jones, 2007).
What We Know and What We Don’t Know
Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention is an evidence-based practice. This means that multiple studies have delivered statistically significant results providing evidence that this method produces positive gains in children with ASD. This does not assume that PMII will work for every child in every circumstance. What we know is that is has been proven to work for many children with ASD. In fact, PMII is one of the best researched interventions for children with ASD and at its core displays the benefit of inclusion for children on the autism spectrum.
Despite the positive evidence in support of PMII, there are certainly still unanswered questions that require further investigation. Most importantly, how well do the skills that students with ASD learn with their trained peer(s) extend to other environments and other interactions? It is important for researchers to continue to investigate the extent which children with ASD can show longer lasting effects, in particular with untrained peers. In doing so, we can hope to ameliorate continuous need for trained peers.
For More Information:
The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders, Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention and as Evidence-Based Practice
DiSalvo, C. A. & Oswald, D. P. (2002). Peer-Mediated Interventions to Increase the Social Interaction of Children with Autism: Consideration of Peer Expectancies. Focus on Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities, 17 (4), 198 – 207.
Evidence-Based Practice: Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention. The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2010. Web. 29 August 2012.
Harper, C.B., Symon, J.B., & Frea, W. D. (2008) Recess is Time-in: Using Peers to Improve Social Skills of Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38 (5), 815-826.
Jones, V. (2007). ‘I Felt Like I Did Something Good’ – The Impact on mainstream Pupils of a Peer Tutoring Programme for Children with Autism. British Journal of Special Education, 34, (1), 3 – 9.
Laushey, K.M. & Hefin, L.J. (2000) Enhancing Social Skills of Kindergarten Children with Autism Through the Training of Multiple Peers as Tutors. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30 (3), 183-193.
McConnell, S.R. (2002) Interventions to Facilitate Social Interaction for Young Children with Autism: Review of Available Research and Recommendations for Educational Intervention and Future Research. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 32 (5), 351 – 372.