Teaching Peers to Support Conversations with High School Students with ASD

Conversations are the building blocks of relationships in high school and later adult life. Yet, conversational skills can pose challenges for students with ASD, and as a result, they can become socially isolated from their peers. Learn how to implement peer-mediated strategies for improving conversational skills such as initiating conversation, asking questions, and sustained turn-taking, based on our research. We illustrate strategies with video examples. Participants will be able to: 1. Summarize the need, importance, and challenges associated with enhancing the conversational abilities of high school students with ASD. 2. Identify instructional goals for improving social-communication interactions with peers based on a classification scheme for evaluating conversational difficulties. 3. Implement peer-mediated strategies to support sustained conversational engagement between general education peers and students with ASD, based on our research. 4. Implement peer-mediated strategies and visual supports to encourage students with ASD to initiate conversation and ask partner-focused questions based on our research and other published studies. 5. Initiate a plan for establishing peer training in their schools, building upon or creating inclusive opportunities for social-conversation and peer relationships.

Linda Bambara, Christine Cole, Cathy Kunsch, Shu-Chen  Tsai, Robin  Drogan