In order to meet the varied needs of learners in early
childhood settings, educators must intentionally and proactively embed social learning opportunities in the typical
classroom environments and contexts of learners with ASD
(See Whalon and Hart 2011). Specific strategies to support
the social communication of young children with ASD
include peer-mediated instruction, scripts, and providing
choices. Each of these evidence-based practices is described and illustrated using the case vignette below.
Employing Peer-Mediated Instruction
In the vignette, Jasmine invoked a student–teacher interaction when attempting to connect with her peer, and her
peer responded by following her lead. To decrease
dependence on adults, social communication interventions
often use peers as the intervention agent (Paul and Sutherland 2005). When selecting peers, it is important that the
peer demonstrate positive prosocial skills and is someone
with whom the child with ASD can interact during a typical
school day (Sperry et al. 2010). Typically, peers are taught
specific strategies to engage their peer with ASD in social
interactions. Next, they practice the strategies with adult
guidance, and then apply the practiced strategy with their
peer with ASD in their typical classroom setting with some
prompting from the adult (Goldstein et al. 2007). To
facilitate social interaction between Jasmine and Jeff, Jeff
could be taught strategies to engage Jasmine in an
instructional interaction by asking her for help or asking if
she wants to work together. For peer mediation to be most
effective, multiple peers should be taught to initiate social
interaction with Jasmine in multiple contexts throughout
the school day. Sperry and colleagues provide a detailed
description of how educators can employ peer-mediated
instruction in their classroom settings (Sperry et al. 2010).
When creating opportunities for children with ASD to
interact with their typical peers, it is important that the
child with ASD be taught to initiate such interactions
Table 1 Autism websites with evidence-based strategies
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