A systematic literature review (1995-2013) investigating and evaluating the intervention approaches available for increasing peer interaction and friendships for children with autism in the mainstream school setting
Merson, C. (2014) A systematic literature review (1995-2013) investigating and evaluating the intervention approaches available for increasing peer interaction and friendships for children with autism in the mainstream school setting, no. 116.
This systematic review addresses the issue of intervention for children with autism in mainstream schooling, with regards to increasing peer interaction and friendships. This review has specifically focused on types of intervention available, characteristics of these approaches, what types of study design were used and the judgement of the evidence base for these approaches. The search was confined to articles from 1995-2013. Following preliminary, primary and secondary screening, 19 articles were included in the final cohort. Each of these studies reported to increase peer interaction and friendships in children with autism in the mainstream school setting. The results of the review found a variety of intervention approaches, with eight different intervention categories emerging. Across these intervention approaches, ages from 4-16 years were covered and all participants had ASD, but varied in their diagnosis. The majority of the studies also had a male bias with a ratio 79 males: 21 females. Each of the interventions varied in their outcome measures and results, although all showed reported improvements, some intervention approaches were seen to be more frequent than others, for example peer- mediated interventions. Although the interventions showed promise in their results and had some strengths, the majority were limited in their small sample sizes, lack of follow up studies, lack of social validity and showed methodological design flaws. Thus, the majority of these studies contributed minimally to the evidence base. However despite their weaknesses, these interventions do show promise for future research.