A recent study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders discovered that peer network intervention has an enormous impact on a child’s school and personal life, and future.
Studying “Peer Network Intervention”
In the study, typically developing kindergarteners and first-grade students were asked to play with other students with autism, three times a week for 30 minutes after school.
The results? Without even knowing it, these students were teaching their peers with autism social skills like sharing, eye contact, and how to follow directions.
Traditionally developing students were given a simple theme for the day, such as “sharing.” Throughout the session, they encouraged students with autism to share toys and ask for things using the words “please” and “thank you.”
To be enrolled in the study, each child with autism had to be able to speak and understand and react to simple phrases and commands.
Peer Groups vs. Traditional Special Education Services
There’s no denying that special education services greatly improve the lives of students with autism. But incorporating those with autism into classrooms and playgroups with traditionally developing students had a major, positive impact on their lives.
When the group of children who participated in peer play groups was compared to a control group of students who only received traditional special education services, researchers discovered that the “peer play” group initiated significantly more social interactions with other students, after the study concluded.
Teachers were also asked to track the number of times their students with autism initiated play and used appropriate language throughout the school day. Teachers reported that the students who partook in peer play groups showed more growth in language and appropriate conversation.
Are you looking to navigate your path to success? Debra Solomon of Spectrum Strategies helps young adults with autism and other learning challenges improve time management and organizational skills and guides them toward personal and professional goals by breaking larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. Her coaching is geared to facilitating the transition from school to college or employment. For more information and fees, call Debra at (516) 510-7637.