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Benefits of Peer-Mediated Interventions for Students With Intellectual Disability and Peers


The Journal of Remedial and Special Education published a review of the 53 studies on the impact on peers from peer-mediated interventions for students with intellectual disability (ID).  Although inclusion is increasing there are still some administrators, educators and parents who are hesitant. They may have concerns regarding the effects of peer mediated interventions that include students with intellectual disability.  Previous research indicates that peer-mediated interventions are an evidence-based approach for improving social and learning outcomes for students with intellectual disability (ID) but their impact on participating peers has not been explored in depth.  The review of the research indicated that:

  1. interacting with students with ID has no adverse effects on peers’ academic achievement or engagement for peers from elementary through high school.
  2. peers’ engagement increased.
  3. peer-mediated interventions lead to positive changes in peers’ attitudes toward and peers’ expectations of their classmates with ID.
  4. peers often rated their interactions with students with ID as enjoyable, instilling a sense of pride in their participation and pride in the accomplishments of their partners with ID and expressed a desire to continue interacting with the student with ID.

Educating school staff and parents on the benefits of peer-mediated interventions can be beneficial to explain why students benefit from group therapy sessions.  There are many reasons to support group therapy (ie modeling, turn taking, self regulation, etc.).  This research can also help to support your clinical decision making to determine is a student would benefit from group sessions versus individual therapy sessions.

Reference: John M. Schaefer, Helen I. Cannella-Malone, and Erik W. Carter. The Place of Peers in Peer-Mediated Interventions for Students With Intellectual Disability. Remedial and Special Education November/December 2016 37: 345-356, first published on February 16, 2016 doi:10.1177/0741932516629220

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