ASHA journals
4 files

Linking peer-mediated interventions (Bambara et al., 2020)

journal contribution
posted on 2020-12-18, 00:04 authored by Linda M. Bambara, Christine L. Cole, Amanda Thomas
Purpose: Adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) commonly experience an array of pragmatic language difficulties that can interfere with their ability to engage in reciprocal or balanced conversations with their peers. Difficulties with the use of language during peer encounters can contribute to these students’ social isolation even when in inclusive settings. Increasingly, researchers have identified effective approaches for teaching conversational skills to individuals with ASD, but there are few demonstrations of effective interventions in high school settings. Peer-mediated intervention (PMI) is one approach that can embody research-based recommendations for teaching conversational skills (e.g., direct instruction, teaching in natural settings, use of peer partners). This clinical focus article describes effective PMI strategies for improving the social conversations of high school students with ASD based on our (the authors’) emerging research.
Conclusions: Using Fey’s (1986) classification scheme, the article begins with an illustration of different conversational profiles of adolescents with ASD and associated goals for intervention. Next, key components of our PMI approach are described, followed by detailed illustrations of three research-based intervention strategies that speech-language pathologists can use to address different conversational goals. Emphasis is placed on strategies for teaching students with ASD target skills and training peers to support conversation. Outcomes and clinical reflections of our intervention research are described. Finally, the article ends with a discussion of additional considerations for speech-language pathologists regarding implementation and generalization.

Supplemental Material S1. This figure shows two visual support cue card templates for starting a conversation. The left card (Bambara et al., 2016; Bambara, Cole, et al., 2018) shows blank lines where students or the instructor can write out conversation starters. The right card (Thomas, 2020) depicts squares where images of topic starters (left square) and topic expansions (right square) are placed. Text cues for starting or expanding conversation may be written under the images. “Your turn” signals a peer’s turn to start a conversation.

Supplemental Material S2. Sample fidelity checklist for peer behaviors.

Supplemental Material S3. Sample worksheet from Bambara, Cole, et al. (2020) to help focus student to show interest.

Supplemental Material S4. Self-management checklist from Bambara, Cole, et al. (2020).

Bambara, L. M., Cole, C. L., & Thomas, A. (2020). Linking peer-mediated interventions to address conversational difficulties in adolescents with autism. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups. Advance online publication.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Forum on Social Communication: Clinical Practice Issues.