Schooling and socializing go hand in hand. But for ASD children, the social aspects of school can be particularly challenging. They lack the communication and social skills necessary for building and maintaining relationships with their peers.
That is why many Chicago ABA therapy centers are now coming up with solutions that combine ABA practices with peer training to help students with ASD positively communicate with others and socialize.
What is peer training, how it works, and how ABA therapists integrate this approach with ABA fundamentals to create more individualized peer intervention programs for elementary-aged students? You can find answers to these and many other similar questions right here in this post.
Peer Training Explained
In the context of ABA, peers who follow typical development phases help their autistic peers by providing direction and encouragement. The training involves many things, ranging from sharing and taking turns to facilitate social interaction and joint attention.
The peer training programs allow ASD children to practice numerous communication and social skills they learned during ABA therapy sessions.
Peer training enables them to practice those theoretical concepts in one-to-one natural settings at school, which can be immensely successful for building and improving their social skills.
This also allows autistic children to observe their peers closely communicating and interacting with each other in school.
The best thing about peer training is that it also helps children acting as tutors or buddies to learn more about Autism and the entire learning process. It also fosters a sense of responsibility by encouraging students to support and help each other within the school premises.
Types of Peer Training Intervention Programs
Encourage interaction through integrated playgroups
In this type of peer training intervention program.
The role of an adult (who follows typical development) is to design a set of interactive activities and communication programs to encourage social interaction.
He is also responsible for designing and implementing a consistent schedule, teaches and explains things through play sessions, and motivates ASD children to stay connected with the rest of the class for better engagement and social learning.
Here, it is important to understand that the role of the adult.
Peers are assigned to be a tutor or a buddy
Adults or peers responsible for encouraging social interaction are often called ‘buddies’ or ‘tutors.’
On the one hand, they perform the role of a tutor who is responsible for teaching ASD children the art of communication, and on the latter, they also maintain a buddy-like interaction with those children to help them feel as if they’re getting advice from their friends.
The peers participating in peer training programs. They talk with them, play with them, and also stay by their side to encourage incidental social learning about behaviors.
Group-focused contingency plans, as their name hints, do not target a single buddy or a tutor Instead. In hopes of facilitating supporting behavior with one or more autistic students.
This technique is useful when schools have limited resources and no additional personnel to start and implement individualized peer training programs.
Peer networking programs basically train a group of adults to form their own peer network to support ASD children. These groups are then provided with training to assess the special needs of children with ASD. The participants also tend to learn the ways to initiate and maintain conversations with autistic children.
In peer networks, the adults working as peers can intervene to engage in particular behaviors while interacting with ASD children. For example, they encourage children to communicate with each other, share their stuff, and take turns.
Also, they provide narration for different activities while nurturing and modeling appropriate social behaviors.
Initiation peer training programs are designed to encourage. ASD children initiate conversations with peers and other children and adults around them.
Peer Training Programs – Getting Started
Here are a few things you can do to start a peer training program in your school:
- Discuss your goals and objectives with the school administration and gain their trust and approval
- Identify teachers and other staff who’s interested in contributing to a program
- Also, identify children who can benefit from such peer training programs
- Talk with ABA therapists to design more practical strategies you can implement in a natural setting
- Keep training sessions short and engaging
- Stay in touch with the children so they can share any issues that come up