What are peer-mediated interventions, and how do they work?

"What are peer-mediated interventions, and how do they work?"

A peer-mediated intervention is a technique that has demonstrated effectiveness in teaching social skills to kids with Asperger's (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). The use of peer mentors is an example of an effective strategy for kids with AS and HFA. Peer-mediated interventions allow parents and teachers to structure the physical and social environment in a manner to promote successful social interactions. 

In this approach, peers are systematically trained to make social initiations or respond promptly and appropriately to the initiations of kids with AS and HFA during the course of their school day. Peer mentors should be classmates of the AS or HFA youngster, have age-appropriate social and play skills, have a record of regular attendance, and have a positive history of interactions with the AS or HFA youngster.

The use of peer mentors allows the teachers to act as facilitators, rather than participate as active playmates. The use of peer mentors also facilitates generalization of skills by ensuring that newly acquired skills are performed and practiced with classmates in the natural environment.

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