Children with autism can learn social skills through peer interaction Prof. Nirit Bauminger-Zviely

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Prof. Nirit Bauminger-Zviely
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Children with autism can learn social skills through peer interaction

This is especially important ahead of Autistic Pride Day, which comes out on June 18, and is a day to celebrate neurodiversity and awareness of those on the autistic spectrum.

Children with autism can learn social skills through peer interaction

This is especially important ahead of Autistic Pride Day, which comes out on June 18, and is a day to celebrate neurodiversity and awareness of those on the autistic spectrum.

By AARON REICH   

JUNE 17, 2020 20:12

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Autistic Pride Day flag. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Autistic Pride Day flag.

(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

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Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are able to function properly in normal society, but intervention is necessary to ensure they have interaction with others, specifically peers their age, according to a study from Bar-Ilan University.Being on the autism spectrum often comes with stigma, with those who are on the spectrum being stereotyped as antisocial, socially awkward and apathetic, just to name a few.

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However, this reflects an incomplete understanding of autism, as it is possible for those with ASD to develop proper cognitive, linguistic and social skills if they interact with peers from a young age.The study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, was led by Dr. Nirit Bauminger-Zviely of Bar-Ilan University's Churgin School of Education, and is a followup to her research her ASD laboratory, which is at the forefront of basic and applied research on the socio-emotional development of children with ASD.As part of the study, Bauminger-Zviely focused on evaluating the efficacy of the Preschool Peer Social Intervention (PPSI), a method unique in Israel and the world. This method uses extensive social intervention for children aged three to six, and promotes social play, discourse and interaction between peers. The goal of PPSI was increasing social engagement between preschoolers with ASD and their neurotypical peers.The study found that interaction, play and conversation improved over time, with preschoolers with ASD showing better interaction skills and greater skills at adaptive social conversations. Overall, this led to the children being included socially with their peers.Teachers also reported an overall improvement in the children.The children that were not given this intervention showed no improvement, and some even deteriorated."The fact that the control group without intervention did not progress on any of our measures, and even regressed on some, means that individualized peer intervention comprising all three of these domains is essential for reducing loneliness and social isolation in ASD," Bauminger-Zviely said in a statement.Bauminger-Zviely and her team are now working on training psychologists, speech therapists and teachers in implementing the PPSI method in preschools to help children on the spectrum cope with social interaction.This is especially important ahead of Autistic Pride Day, which comes out on June 18, and is a day to celebrate neurodiversity and awareness of those on the autistic spectrum.As the holiday falls during June, which is LGBT Pride month, it is often symbolized by a flag depicting an infinity symbol on a tricolor background, or simply a rainbow infinity sign in general.