Peer Buddies in the Classroom: The Effects on Spontaneous Conversations in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- 274 Downloads
To date, research on spontaneous social interactions in mixed and non-mixed groups has not included exchanges with peer buddies.
In Study 1, socio-cognitive factors associated with the intention to volunteer to become a peer buddy for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were investigated. In Study 2, spontaneous social interactions in adolescents with ASD and a low level of support with selected peer buddies and with other students were compared.
In Study 1, social-cognitive abilities were investigated through the use of self-report questionnaires. Among typically developing students, their willingness to spontaneously volunteer to help a classmate with ASD was evaluated. Moreover, students were required to indicate among their classmates who were competent to volunteer and who were not. In Study 2, social interaction behaviors in mixed and non-mixed groups were observed and opportunely codified.
In Study 1, students expressing the intention to volunteer obtained higher scores on empathy scale and displayed more positive attitudes towards ASD than other classmates. Volunteers were, in turn, selected as peer buddies by their classmates. In Study 2, when students interacted with selected peer buddies engaged in the highest number of social positive interaction behaviors than they did in other kinds of groups. The worst social interactions were observed in non-mixed groups.
Social behavior displayed by students with ASD appeared strongly influenced by social partners. Students with ASD seemed to more positively benefit from interactions with selected peer buddies compared to other mixed and non-mixed groups.
KeywordsSpontaneous interaction Autism Spectrum Disorder Peer buddies Mixed group Non-mixed group Regular education
The authors would like to express their deep gratitude to students, parents, and teachers who participated in research and to principals and all the staff of the schools involved.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional Sapienza University of Rome and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Astington, J. W. (2003). Sometimes necessary, never sufficient: False-belief understanding and social competence. In B. Repacholi & V. Slaughter (Eds.), Individual differences in theory of mind: Implications for typical and atypical development. New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Baker, J. E. (2003). Social skills training for children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome and social communication problems. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.Google Scholar
- Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Spong, A., Scahill, V., & Lawson, J. (2001). Are intuitive physics and intuitive psychology independent? A test with children with Asperger Syndrome. Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders, 5, 47–48.Google Scholar
- Bauminger-Zviely, N., Karin, E., Kimhi, Y., & Agam-Ben-Artzi, G. (2014). Spontaneous peer conversation in preschoolers with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder versus typical development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55, 363–373. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12158.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Carter, E. W., Common, E. A., Sreckovic, M. A., Huber, H. B., Bottema-Beutel, K., Gustafson, J. R., et al. (2013). Promoting social competence and peer relationships for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Remedial and Special Education, 23, 91–101.Google Scholar
- Coie, J. D., & Dodge, K. A. (1983). Continuities and changes in children’s social status: A five-year study. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 29, 261–282.Google Scholar
- Eisenberg, N., & Liew, J. (2009). Empathy. In R. A. Shweder, T. R. Bidell, A. C. Dailey, S. D. Dixon, P. J. Miller, & J. Modell (Eds.), The child: An encyclopedic companion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Hermelin, B., & O’Connor, N. (1985). Logico-affective states and nonverbal language. In E. Schopler & G. B. Mesibov (Eds.), Communication problems in autism. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
- Laghi, F., Federico, F., Lonigro, A., Levanto, S., Ferraro, M., Baumgartner, E., et al. (2016a). Peer and teacher-selected peer buddies for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: The role of social, emotional, and mentalizing abilities. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 150, 469–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Laghi, F., Lonigro, A., Levanto, S., Ferraro, M., Baumgartner, E., & Baiocco, R. (2016b). The role of nice and nasty theory of mind in teacher–selected peer models for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 49, 207–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Laghi, F., Lonigro, A., Pallini, S., Bechini, A., Gradilone, A., Marziano, G., et al. (2018b). Sibling relationships and family functioning in siblings of early adolescents, adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27, 793–801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Marans, W. D., Rubin, E., & Laurent, A. (2005). Addressing social communication skills in individuals with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome: Critical priorities in educational programming. In F. Volkmar, R. Paul, A. Klin, & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of Autism and pervasive developmental disorders (pp. 42–69). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Orsini, A., & Picone, L. (2006). WISC-III. Contributo alla taratura italiana (Eng. Transl. WISC-III. Contribution for the Italian adaption). Firenze: Giunti Organizzazioni Speciali.Google Scholar
- Sigman, M., & Ruskin, E. (1999). Continuity and change in the social competence of children with autism, Downs syndrome, and developmental delays. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 64 (1, Serial No. 256).Google Scholar
- Sparrow, S. S., Cicchetti, D. V., & Balla, D. A. (2003). Vineland adaptive behavior scales—Expanded interview form. [Italian version, G. Balboni & L. Pedrabissi (Eds.)], Firenze: Organizzazioni Speciali.Google Scholar
- Vogindroukas I., Chelas E. N., & Petridis N. E. (2014). Reading the mind in the eyes test (Children’s Version): a comparison study between children with typical development, children with high-functioning autism and typically developed adults. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 66, 18–24.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems. Tenth Revision. Geneva: Author.Google Scholar
- Zhang, J., & Wheeler, J. J. (2011). A meta-analysis of peer-mediated interventions for young children with autism spectrum disorders. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 46, 62–77.Google Scholar