Last week's blog posting was more timely than I even thought. The next day, an article about the benefits of peer education regarding autism was published in Disability Scoop, an online news service. The piece was written regarding a study as published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. I remember reading about this study in The Orange County Register nearly three years ago. I contact Connie Kasari at UCLA, ecstatic about the findings. I knew so little about how long it takes for such work to be published!
But here it is. Proof of the effectiveness of preparing peers in an inclusive or mainstreamed classroom to receive their classmate with autism. While it wasn't Good Friend's specific interventions that were studied, one does not have to take much of a leap to generalize the data to our Peer Sensitivity Workshops (PSWs) for elementary school students. And soon enough, that leap won't be necessary.
Good Friend is thrilled to be working with UW-Whitewater on a study of our staff in-services and our 3rd through 5th grade PSWs. We're in the process of identifying the pilot school, and the intervention and control groups for the study. If you are an administrator in a public elementary school between Waukesha, Wis., and Whitewater, Wis., and wish to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While I will never tire of the "proof" of the effectiveness of our services we currently receive, such as spontaneous hugs from 2nd grade students and affirmations from pleased parents, I will be glad to share the peer-reviewed evidence basis for teaching autism awareness, acceptance, and empathy.