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New ally for kids with ASD


Children with autism may have a new ally: their peers. Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) kids who attend regular education classes may improve their social skills if their typically developing peers are taught how to interact with them rather than putting all of the onus to adjust on the autistic kids. According to research in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, a shift away from conventional interventions for children with may provide greater social benefits for them.

The most common intervention for children with ASD is direct training of social skills. The kids may have a variety of challenges which don’t match, but the intervention treats them all the same. Other intervention might involved training peers how to interact with classmates who have difficulty in social settings. Both work in the clinic, but not so well in community settings.

For the study kids were divided into four groups. One group got child-focused, one-on-one training with an ASD intervention provider. Another group was peer mediated training typically developing kids while the ASD children received no social skills training. A third group received both types of intervention and a fourth received none.

According to researchers, the group that did the best was the peer mediated group. Teaching the other kids in the classroom how to interact best with the ASD kids improved social skills with better, more persistent outcome. In fact, the one-on-one intervention may only be effective when supported by the peer mediation.

Peer engagement helped ASD kids to be less isolated. They were included in a greater social circle. The ASD kids still had problems but they were mitigated to a better degree. More research is needed to get to that next level of skill building.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, NIMH

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