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Kids Helping Kids: How Peers Can Help Facilitate Skill Growth in Children with ASD

Posted on 10/22/2018 at 09:47 AM by Julie McCarty

Children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) oftentimes have deficits in social communication and social interaction. One strategy that has been proven to help increase their communication, interpersonal skills, learning readiness, play, joint attention and academic skills is through an intervention known as Peer Training.

The National Autism Center describes the Peer Training intervention as a way to help facilitate skill growth in children with ASD. This includes teaching peers how to initiate and respond, which can be used in a variety of settings and situations that have been prioritized by the family, student and school team. When designing a peer training approach, the following components should be considered:

  • Age and skill level of child with ASD should be similar to that of peers

  • Peers should be willing and available to participate

  • Capitalize on interests and preferences of all children involved

  • Organize activities ahead of time

  • Provide appropriate modeling

  • Use structured settings and comfortable environments

  • Use prompts and feedback to facilitate interactions

  • Train in multiple settings and with multiple peers to increase opportunities to practice

There are many peer training programs that are already developed and Heartland AEA has resources to help you get started. They can help identify peer training options and team up with families to match this instructional strategy with student need. If you would like support in this area or would like to explore options, contact your Heartland AEA Regional Director.

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