Children with autism may experience difficulties in communicating and socializing with their peers. As a result, they can become frustrated, withdrawn, and less likely to attempt interaction with others in the future. However, many autism treatment facilities now offer peer mentorship programs that aim to improve the social skills of children with autism by implementing peer intervention.
- Caring Mentors
Individuals selected as peer mentors are carefully chosen and undergo extensive training before being paired with a child with autism. Each peer mentor is taught how to better understand the challenges of autism spectrum disorder. They also learn how to be a good friend to a child with autism. Then, the matching process begins.
- Social Activities
Once the peer mentors and their partners are paired up, they both get to experience six weeks of stimulating and socially minded activities and events. The peer mentors function to encourage their new friends to interact and engage with those around them. During this time together, children with autism develop their communication and sportsmanship capabilities. At the end of the six weeks, peer mentors and their partners go on a field trip that incorporates all that has been taught over the course of the program. The program organizers refer to this final event as a generalization activity.
- Parent Participation
Parents of children with autism are prompted to participate in this highly effective program. They are taught how to aid social interactions between their children and others during education sessions and role-playing activities. Caregivers then accompany their children during the trip field to act as intervention facilitators.
- Positive results
Though other forms of autism treatment can produce positive results for patients, peer mentorship programs are vital in assimilating children with autism into their peer social structure and enabling them to effectively interact with those of the same age. This program also functions to minimize trauma that may have occurred from past negative situations. Instead, these new positive experiences can reinforce a child with autism’s desire to engage with others.
STAR California provides autism treatment options for families living in the greater Los Angeles, Orange County, and Ventura areas. If you have a child with autism and would like to speak with one of our autism specialists, call us at (805) 624-6982.