Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention

By Heidi Cooley-Cook


With socialization the topic of this quarter’s newsletter, the evidence-based practice highlighted will be Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention (PMII).  The National Professional Development Center on ASD affirms that PMII has been shown to be an effective practice for a wide age range, 3 to 18 --- utilizing peer-initiation training with young children 3-8 and social networking with older children 9-18.  NPDC noted that only 1 study met their criteria for middle/high school age groups, while there was more research supporting PMII for use with early childhood and elementary age children.  It is important to note that generally speaking, NPDC research reviews are concentrated to ages under 21 – so if you are thinking of using PMII or other evidence-based practices with an adult, you may want to simply try it out, as there has not been extensive research completed on this or other EBPs with that age group.

PMII is useful in increasing engagement with peers and children with ASD.    Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention is designed to increase the social engagement with peers for children and youth with ASD.  PMII can be used by a variety of professionals and in an array of environments.

With younger learners (3-8) research suggests that Peer Initiation Training is the best approach.  With this approach, peers are taught how to start a social interaction and appropriately respond to a student with ASD.  The Autism Internet Modules on Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention has done a nice job of specifically addressing each step needed for facilitating a successful Peer Initiation Training – from Selecting, Training and Supporting Peers to discussing Structured Play Settings and Classroom Settings.  They emphasize the need for initiations to occur throughout the day not just one or two times but consistently throughout the entire day/week/month.  Please see the Q&A section for more information on the modules.

For the older child, Peer Social Networks are more appropriate.  Peer Social Networks were developed to not only assist students with ASD to gain access to the general curriculum, but also develop relationships with peers.  In doing so, students with ASD develop a group of students that support them and further promote independence.  Again, the Autism Internet Modules have done a great job discussing the various steps needed to develop and maintain the networks.  Again, it is important that the initiations are occurring through the student’s day!

With the addition of this and other social skills programming, it is hoped that the child with ASD will learn the vital skills necessary for peer relationships and social exchanges.  It is also a goal of PMII to increase the frequency of interaction between peers and student(s) with ASD across a variety of environments and activities.  This should further minimize the child’s reliance on parents, teachers, and other adults for prompts and reinforcement, as they will now get this from their peers in a natural way.

Please view the webinar "Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention" to learn more.


Heidi Cooley-Cook is a Field Training Coordinator for the KY Autism Training Center and a graduate student at the University of Louisville. She provides direct training and technical assistance to education staff, social and community personnel, counselors, job coaches and families.


Article sources:

Neitzel, Jennifer. “Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention (PMII)”.  Autism Internet Modules, 2012. Web. 7 Aug. 2012.

Evidence-Based Practice: Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention. The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2010. Web. 20 July 2012.