Jennifer Asmus, PhD

Slide of the Week: Jennifer Asmus, PhD

Title: Classroom observations of social interactions between high school students with significant disabilities and their general education peers

Legend: The average rate (number) of interactions per hour for focus students with significant disabilities with any general education classmate across peer support and comparison groups during pre (no intervention for both groups) and post (peer support intervention; no intervention comparison) during classroom observations.

Citation: Asmus, J.M., Carter, E.W., Moss, C.K., Born, T.L., Vincent, L. B., Lloyd, B.P., & Chung, Y.C. (in press). Social Outcomes and Acceptability of Two Peer-Mediated Interventions for High School Students with Severe Disabilities: A Pilot Study, Inclusion.

Abstract: Adolescents with severe disabilities often have few opportunities to learn alongside and connect socially with peers without disabilities at their high school. In this pilot study, nine high school students with severe disabilities were randomly assigned to three conditions: peer support arrangements, peer network intervention, or a comparison condition involving “business-as-usual” paraprofessional support. School staff served as intervention facilitators and researchers coached and monitored fidelity. Increased classroom interactions were observed for students in the peer support condition and enhanced social contacts and friendships were found for students in both peer support and peer network conditions. Students, peers, and educators perceived both peer-mediated interventions as highly acceptable and feasible. Drawing upon these exploratory findings, we offer recommendations for research and practice focused on fostering strong social connections within high schools.

About the investigator: Jennifer Asmus’ research is directed at experimental social skill and behavior assessment to develop interventions that enable children and adolescents with significant disabilities (e.g., intellectual disabilities, autism, and multiple disabilities) to maximize opportunities for inclusion and social interactions. Asmus focuses on the area of applied behavior analysis (ABA) most often using single-subject research methodology, however our current work at the Waisman Center has included a randomized control trial in coordination with Vanderbilt University (with Erik Carter). Current projects address utilizing peer mediated interventions to assist high school students with significant disabilities in academic and social engagement with general education peers as well as working with school-based teams to determine ways to improve assessment and evidenced-based intervention selection for elementary students with behavior difficulties.

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