What is Peer to Peer?
Peer to Peer is an evidence-based, school-wide peer partner program intended to promote belonging, independence, and enhanced academic opportunities for students with autism and related disabilities.
Through Peer to Peer, school staff harness natural opportunities across the school day for intentional connections between students with disabilities and their peers. Peer education gives students knowledge and skills that demystify disabilities and increase understanding and acceptance.
Although each Peer to Peer program is different, the results are the same: improved outcomes for students with ASD and a more positive, accepting school culture for all.
Peer to Peer is a Participation Model!
In Peer to Peer, students with and without disabilities come together to engage in shared activities where ALL students learn together in a reciprocal manner. This is a Participation Model. The participation model shifts from a helping approach -- where one student is the helper and the other is the recipient of help – to a model where all students actively engage together in natural friendships.
All participants in Peer to Peer, regardless of whether or not they have disabilities, benefit. They learn, they grow, they gain new skills, and they develop new friendships. All are helpers, all are friends.
(START Connecting, December 2021)
Learn more about the Participation Model:
Participation vs Helping Model PowerPoint
Peer to Peer and Unified Champion Schools Collaboration
How do you create a culture in your school that promotes friendships and inclusiveness for all students 365 days a year? A collaboration between START’s Peer to Peer and Special Olympics’ Unified Champion Schools (UCS) is a powerful resource that accomplishes all of those goals. While the strategy of the two evidence-based programs varies, the outcomes of the programs are the same.
Peer to Peer and UCS both result in inclusivity, friendships through a participation model, and acceptance for all students in the school community.
Getting Started with Peer to Peer
If you could choose just one evidence-based practice that would have a far-reaching effect on the quality of life of all students, choose Peer to Peer support. It is not just an evidence-based practice, it is a way of being together that promotes belonging, friendship, and unity through a shared experience. No other “thing” is as broadly impactful, having a lifelong impact on students, families, teachers, schools, and communities.
Waiting for the perfect time or for the perfect plan will prevent your team from getting your Peer to Peer program off the group. It is okay to start small, but do start now. The details of your Peer to Peer story will be uniquely yours and can be written and edited as you go.