Secondary students with severe intellectual disability and autism often have difficulty gaining access to the social and academic experiences that can better equip them for life after high school. Current research suggests that social interactions between students with intellectual disabilities and their peers without disabilities may promote academic, functional, and social skill development, improve social competence and friendship development, and improve quality of life. Despite the adoption of more inclusive service delivery models to promote social interaction, these efforts have not been informed by empirically validated strategies. Therefore students' inclusive experiences are often marked by social isolation and limited engagement; opportunities for meaningful peer interactions are often elusive for students with disabilities. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the efficacy of two peer interaction interventions (peer network and peer support) for improving outcomes for students with severe intellectual disabilities. We will conduct a randomized controlled trial of two interventions: peer support strategies and peer network strategies.
Erik Carter, Ph.D., (615) 322-8150