Paraprofessionals often work directly with students in inclusion settings or at social times, such as lunch and recess. So, paraprofessionals can do many things to facilitate social interactions between children.
For a recent research study, paraprofessionals attended a training workshop on implementing social interventions. After the workshop, the paraprofessionals were able to successfully use the social interventions with their students. Most of the students showed increases in their levels of engagement and social initiations with peers. Here is some information about the training that was used. *There is also a video example at the end of this post, so make sure you read the entire post!*
Workshop Format: a one-hour workshop that included PowerPoint slides that described the social intervention procedures. The paraprofessionals were also shown video examples of both successful and unsuccessful examples of other paraprofessionals using the procedures.
Feedback: the paraprofessionals were observed working with their students after the workshop and again two days later. Feedback was provided if needed.
1. Proximity to Student. In social situations, if a paraprofessional is too close or “hovering” over the student, it can actually interfere with other children interacting with that student. In this research article, the recommended distance for the paraprofessional to be from the student was approximately six feet. This allowed the paraprofessional to be close enough to prompt or intervene if needed, but far enough away as to not impede social interaction. I’m sure the appropriate distance would be determined based on each student’s individual skills and characteristics.
2. Cooperative Arrangements. This involves setting up an activity in which children must communicate with each other to complete the activity. An example might be an art activity in which one child is given all of the paint brushes, another child is given all of the paint, and another is given all of the paper. The children need to ask each other for the materials in order to do the project. This gives opportunities for interaction.
3. Child Preferred Interests. This involves incorporating a student’s interests (such as trains, dinosaurs, Star Wars, etc.) into a social game or activity.
For more information about these strategies and detailed results of this study, please read the entire article:
“Training Paraprofessionals to Improve Socialization in Students with ASD” by Robert L. Koegel, Sunny Kim, and Lynn Kern Koegel
Journal: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Published online: 27 March 2014. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-014-2094-x
All personal opinions in this post are those of Positively Autism, and do not necessarily represent those of the authors or publisher of this study. The video below is not associated with the authors or publishers of this study.