Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #465
Advancements in Teaching Appropriate Play Skills to Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, May 29, 2017
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4E/F
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Lorraine A Becerra (Utah State University)
CE Instructor: Lorraine A Becerra, M.A.

The three presentations within this symposium describe the recent advancements in teaching appropriate play skills to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Each paper describes systematic approaches to improve the effectiveness in teaching in the areas of independent and social play. The first presentation is a quantitative analysis of interventions used to teach play skills to children with ASD. The second presentation will describe the use of technology based activity schedules to teach independent play skills to preschool students. The final presentation describes the use of video modeling training to increase pretend play behaviors for two pairs of participants with ASD. Implications and future directions for teaching various play behaviors will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Autism, Play

Teaching Play Skills to Children With Autism: A Review of the Literature

HEATHER PANE (Caldwell University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University)

The development of play skills is thought to be an important part of human development. Children spend the majority of their time engaged in play activities (Boutot, Guenther, & Crozier, 2005). Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often present with substantial delays in the development of play behaviors. To our knowledge, the literature on teaching play skills to children with ASD has not been fully reviewed. The purpose of the current review was to conduct a quantitative analysis of studies that evaluated interventions to teach play skills to children with ASD. Fifty-seven articles met the inclusion criteria. These studies were evaluated across 16 parameters (e.g., participants, dependent variable, preference assessment, independent variable, generalization, social validity, type of play). The majority of the studies reviewed were effective in increasing the target play skill. Further evaluation of the social validity of the outcome is warranted. Determining a means of measuring the participants newly acquired play skill relative to a child of typical development would be valuable information in understanding how socially valid the results are. Another interesting finding is that only eight studies conducted some type of preference assessment to identify the toys used during the intervention. Consideration of a childs preference for a toy might aide in the development of the play skill. In addition, more consideration should be made in programming for and assessing generalization across toys, people, and environments. Identifying effective interventions is an important step in promoting play skills within the contexts of natural play environments.


An Evaluation of an iPad Based Photographic Activity Schedule to Increase Independent Play Skills for Young Children With Autism

KASSIDY REINERT (Utah State University), Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University)

A visual activity schedule is a set of pictures or words that can be used to teach an individual with disabilities to complete a set of tasks. These schedules can help individuals with disabilities to become more independent and complete tasks appropriately. Children with autism often engage in behaviors that are repetitive or not appropriate when playing. Visual activity schedules have been used to teach a variety of skill and teach appropriate play. Typically, activity schedules are paper based; this study examines the use of an activity schedule taught on an iPad. This study included three young boys with a diagnosis of autism who were attending a university-based early intervention preschool. This study found that technology-based activity schedules are an effective way to teach play and the technology-based activity schedule was preferred for two of the three participants.


Teaching Children With Autism Pretend Play Using Video Modeling

ASHLEY SIMMONS (Marcus Autism Center), Sarah Frampton (Marcus Autism Center), Sandra Shirk (Marcus Autism Center), Bethany Talmadge (Marcus Autism Center), Tom Cariveau (Marcus Autism Center), Whitney Trapp (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)

Video modeling has been used to teach a variety of play behaviors for children with ASD including solitary play (MacDonald, Clark, Garrigan, and Vangala, 2005; Paterson & Arco, 2007), and pretend play with typically developing peers and siblings (Reagon, Higbee, & Endicott, 2006; Macdonald et al., 2009). However, there is limited research on the utility of video modeling training when all participants have ASD. A multiple probe design across behaviors (pretend play scenarios) was used to evaluate the effects of video modeling for two pairs of participants. During all sessions, rate of vocalizations, play actions and completion of the targeted scenario was scored for all participants. In baseline, the participants did not engage in the targeted play scenarios and displayed low rates of contextually appropriate vocalizations and play actions. Following exposure to the video models, all participants displayed elevated vocalizations and play actions and completed the targeted play scenarios. Maintenance probes showed that play persisted once the videos were no longer viewed. These results extend the video modeling research by demonstrating that the intervention can successfully be provided to two children with ASD simultaneously.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh