The Effects of Peer Networks on Social-Communicative Behaviors for Students with Autism


This study investigated the effects of a peer network strategy on the duration of social interaction and social---communicative skills for 3 students with autism. Typical peers, 5 students per site, were selected based on peer status (popularity with classmates) and teacher nomination. Each network of peers received eight 30-minute training sessions during which social skills---including initiating and responding, conversing, sharing, giving instructions, and saying nice things---were modeled by the experimenter with role-play practice by the students and feedback. The target students with autism received training in the use of an augmentative communication system along with two training sessions in social skills with their peer network. Feedback and reinforcement for appropriate behaviors and interaction continued throughout the intervention phases. A multiple baseline design across settings was employed to document the effects. Dependent variables included durations of social interaction time, use of the augmentative communication system by the target students and peers (trained and untrained), language use during 10-minute samples, and disruptive behavior. Results showed increased social interaction time and use of the augmentative communication system for all 3 students, with increased expressive language for 2 students. Increases were also noted in peer nominations of the target student following the intervention.


Counseling, Leadership and Special Education

Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title

Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities