Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Education (MEd)



Department name when degree awarded

school psychology

Committee Chair(s)

Donna Gilbertson


Donna Gilbertson


Andrew Samaha


Gretchen Gimpel-Peacock


The demand for effective social skills interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders is a pertinent issue for school-based professionals. One approach to increase appropriate social skills is to involve peer support by training a few socially competent children to positively interact with a student with an ASD. Potentially, training larger groups of children could result in increasing the number of different peers who would actively support positive interactions with their classmates with ASD. Thus, the present study investigated the effect of a class-wide peer-training strategy on the percentage of positive social interaction and number of peer contacts for three elementary students with autism spectrum disorders. All peers in the three different classrooms received a brief lesson on respecting differences in others and how to support all classmates during classroom and recess activities. Next, each class was taught how to support other students in the class by modeling, role playing, and didactic instruction. This training specifically targeted preferred recess activities and social skills goals of the student with an ASD. After training, peers received a verbal prompt to use skills before a recess period, implemented the procedures in the absence of direct supervision during recess, and participated for a chance to earn points towards a class-wide reward for participating in positive interactions with the student with an ASD. A multiple baseline across the three classrooms showed replicated positive effects of the intervention relative to a prior baseline condition. Results showed that the class-wide respect and social support skills training paired with a contingent reward contingency increased the level of positive social interactions as well as the number of peer contacts for all three students with autism spectrum disorders.




This work made publicly available electronically on November 21, 2011.

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