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Training peers improves social outcomes for some kids with ASD
Date:11/29/2011

ated intervention or no peer-mediated intervention. The two-step randomization resulted in four intervention categories, each with 15 children who had ASD:
  • Child-focused: direct, one-on-one training between the child with ASD and intervention provider to practice specific social skills, such as how to enter a playground game or conversation
  • Peer-mediated: group training with the intervention provider for three typically developing children from the same classroom as the student with ASD; the affected student did not receive any social skills training. The participating children were selected by study staff and teachers and were taught strategies for engaging students with social difficulties.
  • Both child-focused and peer-mediated interventions
  • Neither intervention.

All interventions were given for 20 minutes two times a week for six weeks. A follow-up was conducted 12 weeks after the end of the study. After the follow up phase, all children with ASD who had received neither intervention were re-randomized to one of the other treatment categories.

Children with ASD whose peers received trainingincluding those who may also have received the child-focused interventionspent less time alone on playgrounds and had more classmates naming them as a friend, compared to participants who received the child-focused interventions. Teachers also reported that students with ASD in the peer-mediated groups showed significantly better social skills following the intervention. However, among all intervention groups, children with ASD showed no changes in the number of peers they indicated as their friends.

At follow-up, children with ASD from the peer-mediated groups continued to show increased social connections despite some of the children having changed classrooms due to a new school year and having new, different peers.

According to the researchers, the findings suggest that peer-mediated interventions can provide be
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Contact: Karin Lee
NIMHpress@mail.nih.gov
301-443-4536
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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