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Text Transcript: Peer Sensitivity Training

- Hi, my name is Danielle Rashaan and I work in PDI and my role as you can see behind me is bilingual autism specialist.

So I rarely mentioned I work with both the early years team and the school age team which is the French school board.

So my topic is on the handout.

It says peer sensitivity and training.

I don't know how that word and got in there.

Peer sensitivity training and then when I made this, I just called it Peer Awareness.

But basically it's training the peers of students with autism about autism.

So I was actually just saying to Jill, it's a great segue from her presentation because it often coincides with social skills training in the classroom.

So I do a lot of what Jill does but then the next step is sort of group contingency or getting kids to generalize that in the classroom and to get those kids on site often, they don't know why that child needs that help or they start to ask questions as they get older.

So I started to do some peer sensitivity training, peer awareness.

There's not a whole lot of evidence to support peer awareness training.

Yeah, I'm doing it.

I looked and looked and has one of my colleagues ask the professor and she couldn't find very much either.

I did find a little bit there's this one study on inclusion and it's found that in for students with Asperger's syndrome, whose peers hadn't been trained about what Asperger's syndrome is and what those difficulties are, there were more likely to be approached by their peers.

So that was one study.

There might be more out there that I haven't found that I hope I find more students.

I also found some papers and articles that talked about how they can be, how the awareness training could be well blended with social skills instruction which is like what I just mentioned there a moment ago.

So there's quite a few different elements that can happen when you're training peers about autism of course.

There's lots of different ways to do it.

A couple of common ones or a couple of good ones are of course presentations in the classroom and that can be a PowerPoint presentation and it can be a whole play, It can be any kind of fun thing, depending on the age of the kids of course.

Any kind of activities, books, I'm sure a lot of you've seen books like "My Friend Will" or books like that of course.

Many of them are aimed at younger children or they're a very great resource to use.

Handouts, there are a couple on your table that I'll talk about later on.

Asking for inclusion ideas so I'll talk in later on about all the students that I have who have been trained on autism.

So this child's been here, you've prayed for years.

They know what it is.

So we're kind of changing the approach with them.

Focusing on all differences so in some cases, the parents aren't really comfortable with that child being referenced directly or they are talking about autism even the child doesn't know they have autism.

I mean that's of course totally the parent's choice.

So in those cases, we'll just talk about differences and just how the general sensitivity training in the classroom.

The source, I have a referenced there at the bottom of the screen.

I'll talk about it again at the end, but it's an excellent resource for getting started with any kind of peer education about autism.

I'll share more about it at the end.

I lost my voice a few days ago, so I apologize.

I'm about 80% though.

So we're doing okay.

So right now, like Marlene said, I have a whole variety of ages of kids that I work with.

So I've got quite a few different types of peer awareness things going on.

One is right now figuring one class and it's not autism specific.

So these parents aren't haven't really explained to this child, that autism is the word that is got.

So we're not sharing that word.

So we just are talking about differences in the classroom.

And actually we're pairing that with a group contingency social skills program in the classroom.

Another one that we've got is an autism specific training, which I'll show you in a minute for a student who's older, but it's for his peer or his other students in that same school in younger grades.

And that student comes with us and he's a part of the group.

He doesn't present to Scott minimal verbal skills, but he's there in the classroom for those presentations.

And then, right.

And then I mentioned that last one, where we've..

Oh and that's right, I had another one where the student helps present to the student is aware that he had autism and quite verbal and was really excited to be a part of the presentation.

So in one case, I had a student up there with us and talking about the things he was really good at and offering to help anybody if they needed help with anything.

And it was pretty cute.

So today I'm gonna show you just a couple of quick examples.

If you've already done lots of peer sensitivity training with your students, you might just see a few new things here and you might recognize some of the things that I do.

And if you haven't done before, then hopefully you get a couple of ideas here.

So I'm gonna show you a presentation that I share with a lot of younger groups.

So I use it with, I have a couple of grade one two classes, but we've done in the last couple years and I go to do it again with a couple of groups.

So it's good grade one to grade four level.

There's a brochure on your table that I'll talk about it and that's for a couple years older than that.

And then we'll talk about what we're doing with grades that I have.

- [Danielle] So this first thing I'm gonna show you is this PowerPoint presentation.

I'm gonna walk you through it as you're the students, the peers of have a child with autism.

Like I said, it's for younger children, it can be with or without the mention of autism.

So, right now it does mention autism and what it is in a very sort of brief and basic way, but I've taken those slides out before.

So it totally depends, you could add or take things out of course.

And in most cases I do associate this with a group contingency reward system for working on certain skills to include those peers but it can be done without that as well.

I'm not sure how the font change there.

Anyway, this is the presentation, Same or Different? So I asked students what differences you've seen between these children on the screen.

And of course they say nothing.

They're all the same.

And we talked about how that's not very interesting.

And then we talk about these kids.

What do you see here? What are the differences? So they start pointing out, some are bigger, some are smaller, some are sad, some are happy.

You know, boys, girls, different abilities.

We kind of dig deep depending on the level of the students and kind of what they're offering.

And we talk about how fun that is and how it's so much more interesting.

And then we sort of look around the class and wow, look at all the differences in this class.

So we just sort of start by celebrating differences and how cool that is.

And we say, we all have differences of course.

There are differences that we can see.

So of course I ask them, tell me some differences between you that you can see.

So they talk about hair color and other color and I have a red shirt on and she has a blue shirt on.

So these kids, I say, "Yeah, you're right, look, she's got glasses, but he doesn't, she's got Brown hair and she's got blonde hair.

That's a girl and those are boys." So those are some differences we can see.

So we started that really concrete level that the kids first sort of talk about.

And then I say, there are differences that we can't see, and this is a bit harder for kids so it all depends on the level of the children.

I asked them, "Tell me some differences between you that you can't see" But sometimes they don't really know and other times they'll say, "well, you know, I'm really smart." or something so…

- [Danielle] That's something that you can't see honestly as you are So from these kids, I just made things up and I said, "Let's say, maybe this girl loves broccoli.

That's her favorite thing? Can we see that by looking at her?" No, we can't.

So they're starting to get an idea.

This girl doesn't like broccoli, but we can't see that by looking at her.

This boy has two sisters, right? So this is something about him that we can't see by looking at him.

This boy misses his daddy.

So it's something that's going on in his head.

Can we see that? No, how might you be able to tell? So we talked a little bit about that.

She finds reading really hard.

So again that's a difference, something that's, maybe someone's good at and someone's not.

He likes dogs or she's not feeling well.

So that's an interesting part.

It's always fun to see what the children think are the differences between them that we can't see.

So again, difference we can see and we can't see or recap it a little.

And then I say, "I have got a really cool one to tell you about, this is a really special difference.

And it's one that you can't see.

It's called autism.

So we ask if anyone's ever heard about that word, some have, most haven't.

And then I say that autism is something that's in the brain.

Can you see people's brains? No, so this is the difference we can see? No, so they're intrigued by that that it's in the brain.

Talk a little bit about some of the challenges.

Now that's always child specific.

So of course it totally depends on the child that's in the classroom that they know who has autism.

So when I designed this, it was about a specific child.

So I said, autism can make some things harder for a person and some things easier for a person.

Maybe something that's harder is learning to read.

So this particular child academic skills were pretty hard.

So we talked about that.

That could be a difference.

The student had an amazing basketball shot.

You could sink a basket from anywhere.

So I said, "There's another difference, this is something he's really good at." And that might be different from all of you.

So they all know that though.

"They go yeah!." Another difference might be that it's really hard to know how to play with children, have you ever noticed that? So we talked about that, of course, too.

And by this point, depending on the student, in this particular case, we were already, it was already well known that we were talking about that one particular student.

So when there are differences between two people, one person can help the other.

Now we just go through a couple of examples.

What do you see here? Who's helping who and what's the difference between them.

So the kids like pointing these ones out, she's helping her read.

He's helping him tie his shoes and they're helping each other have someone to sit with and someone to play with.

So then we specify for our child with autism.

If he's having a hard time with this schoolwork, what can you do? If he doesn't have anyone to play with, what can you do? And if you're having trouble with your basketball shot, what can you do?

- Ask him to help you.

So we're trying to always stick one in where we might need help from this child with autism.

It's not as always as helping them of course.

And then I thank them and we kind of recap and of course that's always specific to the case in that class.

So often, like I said, I'll pair that with a group contingency.

That is one thing that I do try.

So I track the interactions between the student and his peers before and then we'll do the presentations and track it afterwards.

I haven't yet done it where I will track it first, do only appear sensitivity training and then track it afterwards.

So I don't have any data as to whether just the awareness of self without some kind of group skill contingency has.

In effect but I will as soon as I was preparing this, I thought, "God, Why hadn't I studied this to see if it has an effect." So I might do that next year.

I will present on my findings.

I didn't include the group contingencies in here.

You can imagine what they are.

You know, we choose a couple of skills.

We've got a reward system for the whole class.

They've won practices together.

And I mean throughout the week, they earn their reward at the end of the day or the week, depending on, depending on the age.

The second example I want to show you is the bronchure that's on the table.

Now, when we do these presentations, we can hand it all kinds of fun things and this brochure is one that actually Marlene developed years ago and I think, you know, she and some other colleagues had all kinds of different versions.

There should be enough for most of you to have one on the table there, just checking them out.

And it's just kind of a way to get the kids involved, to get them more interactive hands-on with the information they've been getting.

So this one was designed for older children of course, we can read and write and the stuff on there you know, you can put anything on this.

We've got some things like here's some things the student is good at or likes to do, check off the ones you have in common.

So it's sort of bridging that gap between their differences and you know, getting them to get other kind of paper it has something to do with their hands.

You'll see a spot on there where it says "What the student thinks." Now, of course you consulted with the mother but that we weren't going to put words in the child's mouth who haven't got a lot of words.

But she really wanted that card in there, to get, you know, some things that she thinks he might be thinking and for the children to kind of get that perspective.

So we added that.

You could add anything at all in their of course.

Simple games like crosswords and word vines and you could have a little square if the children were younger, where it just says, "Draw yourself with this friend or draw something you and this friend can do together." So I think that kind of gets their hands moving and gets them interactive and sort of sharing their ideas.

The students are listening to like this thing.

Another thing I do that I didn't bring is just include a little note that they can bring home that day because when they get home and say, "Oh, so-and-so was autism.

and we learned this, what it is." The parents might just sort of be curious as to what they learned or what we talked about.

So I always just sort of include the main points, basically, you know, I don't get any more technical than I do in this presentation.

So it's just the same info.

You know, autism is a very special difference.

The students learned that we all have differences and on like that.

The third example I want to talk about is this one particular student who I've been working with for quite a few years, he's in grade eight now.

And like I mentioned at the beginning, his peers have had this sensitivity training, you know, for years, it's a very small school, there are maybe only, think there six students in his grade, They're more in the younger grades because the population in those schools are getting bigger, but there are only six kids in his grade.

They know what autism is.

You know, they've heard it all, they've been working with this child for years or helping him out, they're excellent.

They're a really amazing group of peers.

But we kind of wanted to refresh that.

And we knew that we couldn't come in and say, "Autism is a special difference in your brain." They know that and there's no sense even getting more technical, it's the practical stuff they need to know.

So we decided to do is, it's actually pending.

It might happen next week when I get back is just go into the classroom and have a presentation about the student and his social skills.

So you guys all know the student, here's the things we were working on over the years and here are the things he can do now in terms of his social skills.

So he can greet them.

He can ask them a question.

You can answer quite a few of their questions.

He can sit down and do a side by side task with them, like working on a, an activity you're playing a game.

You never want to ask them, what do you think he should do next? So these are intelligent eighth grade students.

They probably have a lot of ideas that I never think of.

And so we're really hoping to get their input and their participation in that way.

We kind of want to ramp up, you know, they participate with them, they're sort of out of plateau.

And we thought that maybe by seeking out their ideas and asking them, "How can you guys help him in a way that we can't." Then we might get him to be more engaged than saying, "Here's what we're going to do next." And I want you to having four times a week, and I want you to invite him out of class three times a week.

So we're really hoping that that kind of gets them involved based on their own ideas and their own sort of initiative.

And in that same school, we actually did go into the younger grades.

I mentioned that earlier and do that same initial presentation because the students who had come up into the younger grades over the past couple of years, there were aware of him in the school and this tiny little school that they may not have gotten that info on what autism is.

So we, we didn't sort of refresh presentations from it to the younger students so they know what it is now.

And then we're going to go for his peers.

So those are the three examples I thought I would share with you.

I have any of the articles that I mentioned that you haven't printed out of your, I didn't bring copies for everybody cause that would be a bit much, but if you want to take a look at it, let me know, and I'll give you a copy.

And this is a great resource if you ever wanted to kind of get started with doing some peer sensitivity trainings or just sort of review some of the needs points that I talked about.

It was actually done on PDI about 10 years ago by a group at UPI, which included our own Marlene.

And it's an excellent resource.

It's got lots of activity ideas and lots of sort of sequence, like start here, here's a good idea.

You could have this different alternatives.

Great resource it's available for free online.

You can search for it by its title.

I tried to add the length and I don't know what happened.

But you can search for advice title, it's one of the first things that pops up in Google.

So excellent resource.

And I would suggest that if anyone wants to kind of review some of these main points I talked about.