Peer To Peer
Peer-to-peer programs are volunteer programs linking general education students, with students who have disabilities, in order to support them throughout the school day. The pairing of students leads to greater socialization and independence. Peer-mediated instruction is an evidence based practice involving trained general education peers to provide mediation during social interactions, group learning and tutoring during times of mild behavioral distress. Peer-to-peer programs have been determined more effective than pull-out adult led groups as social skills are best taught in the natural context. In peer-to-peer programs and peer-mediated instruction, students are less reliant on teachers and paraprofessionals which often times leaves them feeling isolated as they become dependent on adults with very little opportunity to engage with peers.
Peer –to-peer programs/mediation take on a variety of forms and names: Lunch Buddies, peer tutoring, Lunch Club, LINKS (Peer-to-Peer), LACES (Peer-to-Peer), TIES (Peer-to-Peer), just to name a few. No matter what the peer-to-peer program, there are commonalities which have proven benefits for both the focus person and his/her peers:
- Peer-to-peer support programs increase opportunities for students with autism to access general education settings and curriculum, create a credible source of help with their peer, and empower the student with autism to help themselves.
- Peer modeling throughout the day provides support to promote independence and socialization and decrease isolation.
- The peers can reach out to isolated groups and reframe negative perceptions.
- Decrease the level of threat because peers are nonjudgments and are a source of strength.
- The inclusion of students with ASD into the general education setting not only affects outcomes for the students with autism but also has a positive impact on peers.
- Peers have credibility and are empowering and provide a positive role model while being more acceptable to a young person than an adult paraprofessional.