Socializing is a normal part of the school day for many children, but for some children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the social aspect of school can be quite challenging. As a result, many children focus on building their communication, play, and social skills in applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. In addition to regular ABA therapy sessions with a certified professional, schools across the country are seeing a great benefit from implementing peer training for students with autism. There are also evidence-based results to prove the success of peers helping peers with autism, particularly in elementary-aged students.
What is peer training?
ABA therapy is an excellent way for children on the autism spectrum to build their social skills, but it is always helpful to supplement sessions with an ABA therapist, such as a BCBA or RBT, with additional practice. This is where peer training comes into play for children with autism who are in a mainstream classroom.
In peer training, peers who follow typical development play an active role in helping their peers with autism. These peers who are typically developing will learn ways to model social skills and help their peers with autism to develop play skills, such as sharing and taking turns. The training will also include ways to help and provide encouragement to their peers with autism. In some cases, these peers may also be referred to as a “buddy” or “tutor.”
This opportunity for peer interaction allows children with autism to practice the communication and social skills that they practice in ABA therapy in the one-on-one or clinical setting. Peer training also allows these students to practice in a natural setting at school, which can be an extremely successful method for building social skills. Part of this success can be attributed to the modeling component involved in peer training. With modeling, students with autism are able to observe their peers (who follow typical development) interact with each other in the school or playground setting. There is also evidence-based support for these findings, which you can read about in more detail here.
While there are many benefits of peer training for children with autism, there are also many benefits for their peers who are involved in the program. Since these students are learning more about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) throughout the training process, these students are much more understanding of differences in abilities, learning styles, and more. Peer training also fosters a stronger sense of community among peers by encouraging students to help each other.
Would you like to learn more about peer training and ABA therapy in Chicago?
Contact Chicago ABA Therapy to learn more about the services we offer for children, including ABA therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and a therapeutic preschool program.
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