A systematic review of peer-mediated interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder

Background: Peer mediated intervention (PMI) is a promising practice used to increase social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). PMIs engage typically developing peers as social models to improve social initiations, responses, and interactions.

Method: The current study is a systematic review examining PMIs for children and adolescents with ASD conducted using group designs. Five studies met the pre-specified review inclusion criteria: four randomized controlled trials and one pre- and post-test design.

Results: Four of the studies were conducted in school settings, whereas one study was conducted in a camp setting. The studies all reported that participants improved in social skills (e.g., social initiations, social responses, social communication) post intervention. Additionally, sustainment, generalization, and fidelity of implementation were examined.

Conclusion: PMI is a promising approach to address social skills in children with ASD, and this approach can be conducted in meaningful real-word contexts, such as schools. Limitations of the studies as well as future directions are discussed.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Peer-mediated interventions; Systematic review.