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Peer Networks Intervention: Improving Social-Communication, Literacy and Adaptive Behaviors for Young Children with ASD

Kamps, D.
Heitzman-Powell, L., Thiemann-Bourque, K.

03/01/09-02/28/13

USDE - Institute of Education Sciences

Peer Networks Intervention: Improving Social-Communication, Literacy and Adaptive Behaviors for Young Children with ASD (Kamps, Thiemann-Bourque, Heitzman-Powell, IES, 2013)

The purpose of the project was to conduct a multi-site quasi-experimental study of students with ASD for the Peer Networks at KU and the University of Washington-Seattle. Over the course of the study, 108 children in all were assessed for eligibility; 97 (81 males, 16 females) were randomly assigned (56 in intervention, and 39 in comparison group).

Social peer networks. All of the 56 consented children in the experimental group received the social peer networks during their kindergarten year, and 48 in both kindergarten and first grade. Approximately 350 peers were enrolled in the social networks. Social peer networks intervention were designed to teach social and communication skills using games and age-appropriate play activities (e.g., games, toys). Each peer network group (1-2 children with ASD and 2 peers) occurred for 25-30 min three times per week.  Skills included (a) requests and shares, (b) comments about one’s own play, (c) comments about others’ play, (d) niceties (e.g., please, thank-you, compliments), and (e) play organizers (e.g., talk about ways to play, and taking turns). The intervention began in late fall of each school year, with approximately six months of scheduled intervention.

Overall social peer networks improved performance for the participants.  Treatment session data showed significant growth for total communications to peers over baseline levels. Results also showed that children in the intervention group had significantly more growth in initiations to peers than did the comparison group during generalization sessions as well.  Teachers’ ratings of prosocial skills revealed significantly greater improvements for the intervention group.  No significant growth differences in total communications, however during non-treatment social probes or generalization probes occurred.

Reading Mastery peer networks.  Forty-two of the 58 participants enrolled in the experimental group received Reading Mastery peer networks during their Kindergarten year (72%). Of the 48 experimental group participants who remained in the study for their first grade year, 24 (50%) received Reading Mastery.  Approximately 90 peers participated in the reading networks. Children received on average 60 Reading Mastery sessions in kindergarten and 69 in first grade, with groups typically beginning in Oct or November each year. These sessions were in small group pull-out and supplemental to reading instruction in the general education class.

            Performance was compared for children who were Beginning Readers and those who were Already Readers.  Results indicated that there were significant group differences in growth on three of the measures (Reading Mastery word list, DIBELS nonsense word fluency, and Woodcock Word Identification) favoring the Reading Mastery intervention for Beginning Readers.  Children who were Already Readers in kindergarten did equally well in the Reading Mastery and comparison groups.

 


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