Peers’ Knowledge About and Attitudes Towards Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of the social experiences of students with ASD in inclusive educational settings and describes peers’ knowledge about and attitudes towards students with ASD. Peer education is identified as an intervention strategy designed to improve peers’ knowledge, attitudes, and understanding of ASD. Authors organize and review peer education strategies and efforts from a social persuasion framework and summarize findings from the ASD literature that examine the impact of various types of informational messages provided by various sources. Authors recommend peer education efforts that provide (a) an explanation about autism, (b) a description that highlights similarities between students with ASD and peers, and (c) direct suggestions for how to interact with a student with ASD. Although empirical evidence exists in support of peer education efforts, peer education should be considered one component of a larger strategy to facilitate inclusion and acceptance of students with ASD.