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Focusing on Friendship: Building Social Groups That Work for Children with Autism

presented by Laura DeThorne

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Laura DeThrone receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.

Non-Financial: Laura DeThrone has no non-financial interests or relationships with MedBridge.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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Are you interested in developing social groups that support children with autism in building friendships? This course will provide the “nuts and bolts” of creating social groups that bring together children with shared interests. Specifically, the course will highlight key tenets of a social model, emphasize the importance of first-person perspectives, suggest modifications to traditional IEP goals, and provide concrete strategies for supporting positive interactions across children with and without autism.

Meet Your Instructor

Laura DeThorne, PhD, CCC-SLP

Dr. Laura DeThorne is an associated professor of Speech & Hearing Science at the University of Illinois and an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist. Her work over the last 20 years has focused on understanding individual and group differences in language development and the potential implications for education and intervention practices. With the intent of bridging biomedical…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Understanding Key Tenets of a Social Model

This chapter explores key tenets of the social model relative to a medical model of intervention as it relates to the social interactions of children with autism. Specifically, the social model focuses on supporting peer interactions (rather than individual skills), encouraging flexible multimodality, building egalitarian peer interactions that grow over time, and privileging first-person perspectives.

2. Privileging First-Person Autistic Perspectives

Consistent with ASHA’s emphasis on client values and perspectives within the framework of evidence-based practice (2016), this chapter highlights the importance of getting first-person perspectives from individuals who identify as autistic when planning intervention, discusses the distinction between identify- v. person-first language, and highlights critical resources. The chapter also includes a guest interview with Dr. Scott Robertson, founding Vice President for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).

3. Building Social Groups

This chapter provides specific recommendations for developing “affinity groups” based on the interests of children with autism. It also provides specific examples of what such groups could look like.

4. Goal-Writing for Social Interaction

Given the current role of Individualized Educational Programs (IEP) in shaping the intervention process, this chapter focuses on how to draft IEP goals for social development that are consistent with a social model of intervention. Specifically, the chapter highlights the importance of specifying the activities, focusing on interaction (rather than individual skills), accommodating multimodality, and incorporating first-person perspectives.

5. Scaffolding Egalitarian Peer Interactions

This chapter reviews specific strategies for supporting egalitarian peer interactions within the context of affinity groups. Specifically, the chapter will covers environmental arrangement, interpretation, direct prompts, and guided problem-solving and provide specific examples of each.

6. Question and Answer

This chapter features a question and answer session that applies concepts from throughout the course to real-world scenarios.