Date Thesis Awarded

4-2019

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Harvey Langholtz

Committee Members

Harvey Langholtz

Cheryl Dickter

Deborah Ramer

Abstract

Students with high-functioning autism in the general education setting may receive support in their academic development, though assistance in their social-emotional development and creation of relationships is little-to-nonexistent. In a population where social and communicative functioning is a primary deficit for labeling, it is critical that research develops evidence-based practices to support social growth. Peer-mediated interventions are a recognized practice in supporting students with severe disabilities and autism, particularly in their early elementary years and in high school (Bambara et al., 2016; Goldstein et al., 1991). The present study strove to find a connection between the utilization of peer-mediated interventions and the increase in social interactions while maintaining high levels of academic engagement for students with high-functioning autism in middle school general education classrooms. Three students with high-functioning autism were followed throughout the course of a one-semester intervention, and data were collected through use of a paper-and-pencil graphic organizer in parallel with a 15-second interval timing application. Following the course of intervention, researchers determined a strong link between peer-mediated intervention and increases in social interaction with continued high academic engagement, as demonstrated through use of visual analysis along with inferential statistics. Peer-mediated interventions may therefore be recognized and further researched as an evidence-based practice for students with less severe disabilities at the middle school level.

Keywords: autism, high-functioning autism, peer-mediated interventions, peer support arrangements, social supports, evidence-based practice, middle school, education, intervention, adolescence

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