Autherapies | Evidence-based therapies

Peer support

Peer support is an empowering approach where individuals who have shared experiences or face similar challenges as the person undergoing rehabilitation provide support in developing self-management skills and coping strategies. In the context of rehabilitation, peer support is facilitated by the rehabilitation team, bringing together peers and individuals receiving rehabilitation. This support can be provided through one-to-one interactions or group sessions.

For individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), participation in community and social life can often be restricted. In response to this, we recognize peer support groups as an effective intervention to enhance community and social engagement for people with ASD. The evidence and clinical expertise affirm that peer support groups for individuals with ASD carry no severe risks. Instead, the benefits of these support groups justify their inclusion in the Package of Interventions for Rehabilitation. Staff members should facilitate opportunities for individuals to engage in various community activities, such as visiting libraries, sports centers, or local resources like cinemas, cafes, and leisure centers.

Moreover, peer support is regarded as a feasible and well-received intervention by individuals with ASD. The peer-led nature of these groups fosters a sense of understanding and camaraderie, creating a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences and challenges. This, in turn, promotes active engagement and participation.

The implementation of reasonable adjustments, as outlined in the Equality Act 2010, may be necessary to ensure inclusive participation. These adjustments could include the establishment of a buddy system, providing accessible transport options, or advising local facilities on accessibility measures. By taking these steps, the barriers to community engagement can be reduced, allowing individuals to explore and participate in community life on their terms.

Community and Social Life
Level of evidence
Who is this for?

Peers of individuals with ASD


Chapin, S., McNaughton, D., Boyle, S., & Babb, S. (2018, November). Effects of peer support interventions on the communication of preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review. In Seminars in speech and language (Vol. 39, No. 05, pp. 443-457). Thieme Medical Publishers.

Cordier, R., Parsons, L., Wilkes-Gillan, S., Cook, M., McCloskey-Martinez, M., Graham, P., ... & Speyer, R. (2023). Friendship interventions for children with neurodevelopmental needs: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Plos one, 18(12), e0295917.

Keuffer, S. I. C., & de Souza, C. B. A. (2023). Peer-Mediated Intervention to Teach Social Interaction to People with Autism: A Systematic Review. Psychology, 14(8), 1331-1350.

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