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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #300
CE Offered: BACB
Improving Academic and Employment Outcomes for Adolescents and Adults With Autism and Intellectual Disabilities
Sunday, May 27, 2018
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom G
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Leslie Quiroz (Caldwell University)
Discussant: Linda S. Meyer (Linda S. Meyer Consulting, LLC)
CE Instructor: Linda S. Meyer, M.S.

Adolescents and adults with high functioning autism and intellectual disabilities might struggle with academics and often have difficulties finding and maintaining employment. Research on strategies for addressing academic and employment difficulties with these populations is limited. The four papers in this symposium focus on identifying procedures that are effective for improving academic performance, increasing independence on vocational tasks, and teaching job-related social skills to adolescents and adults with autism or intellectual disabilities. The first paper evaluated the effects of instructor presence, instructor absence, and instructor fading on the on-task behavior and accuracy of pre-vocational task completion by three adolescents with autism. In the second paper, the authors evaluated the effects of teaching a series of rules on the independent problem solving of common work-related problems by three young adults with autism. In the third paper, the authors evaluated the effects of behavior skills training and textual prompts on job-related social skills of three adults with autism. The fourth paper involved evaluating a modified classroom response system that included error correction and feedback on the lecture comprehension and subsequent writing performance of eight adults with intellectual disabilities.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Academics, Adolescents, Adults, Employment
Target Audience:

Individuals who do research in effectiveness of strategies to increase independence, social, and academic performance of individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities. Also those who do related clinical practice.

Learning Objectives: 1. Identify barriers to independence for adolescents and adults with autism and intellectual disabilities. 2. Identify effective strategies for increasing independence of adolescents and adults with autism and intellectual disabilities. 3. Identify barriers to employment for adolescents and adults with autism and intellectual disabilities. 4. Learn about effective strategies for overcoming barriers to employment for adolescents and adults with autism and intellectual disabilities. 5. Identify barriers to academic success for adolescents and adults with autism and intellectual disabilities. 6. Learn about effective strategies for increasing academic success of adolescents and adults with autism and intellectual disabilities.

A Comparison of Procedures for Maintaining On-Task Behavior in the Absence of an Instructor

AMIRA EL-BOGHDEDY (Caldwell College; Alpine Learning Group), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell University), Erin Richard White (Alpine Learning Group)

Despite the vast amount of research on increasing independence for individuals with autism, there is a lack of research on techniques for fostering independent on-task behavior and accuracy in the absence of an instructor. Though fading the proximity of an instructor has been shown in a few studies to produce independence in the absence of an instructor, no study to date has compared the effectiveness of different methods. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of three conditions on the on-task behavior and accuracy of adolescents with autism: instructor present (instructor remains with the participant throughout entire session), instructor absent (instructor does not remain with the participant), and instructor fading (systematic proximity-fading to complete removal of the instructor from the room). A pre-post generalization probe was conducted across locations. Maintenance probes were conducted 1 week, 3 weeks, and 6 weeks after the participant met criterion on the final fading and schedule thinning levels. After viewing the videos, a questionnaire based on the Treatment Acceptability Rating Form- Revised (TARF) was given to the teachers of each participant.


Effects of a Problem-Solving Strategy on the Correct Completion of Vocational Tasks by High Functioning Young Adults With Autism

BERNADETTE CHRISTINE BALANE (Caldwell University; AHRC NYC), April N. Kisamore (Hunter College), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), James E. Carr (Behavior Analyst Certification Board)

Learning skills to solve common workplace problems might reduce the number of individuals with high functioning autism who are unemployed or underemployed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a rule-based problem-solving strategy on the independent completion of vocational tasks by high functioning young adults with autism. In addition, generalization of strategy use to novel vocational tasks was assessed. Vocational tasks were grouped into three categories (missing items, depleted items, dysfunctional items) and each category included four tasks. To program for generalization, three of the tasks were taught. One remained untaught to assess generalization. To ensure participants only problem solved when there was actually a problem, each task had two types of scenarios: problem and typical. Effects of the strategy were evaluated in a multiple probe across participants design. Prior to intervention, very few of the steps involved in each task were completed correctly. Following introduction of the problem-solving strategy, all four participants independently completed the tasks when a problem was presented and responding generalized to untaught vocational tasks. Interobserver agreement was collected for at least 33% of all sessions and averaged 95% across participants.


Assessing and Teaching Job-Related Social Skills to Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder

CAROLYN GROB (Engage ABA), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston–Clear Lake), Channing Langlinais (Milestones Behavioral Services), Natalie Villante (University of Houston–Clear Lake)

In this study, we examined the efficacy of a treatment package for teaching several social skills that are critical to job success, such as responding appropriately to feedback and asking for a task model from the supervisor. Three adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum diagnosis, aged 19 to 27 years, participated. None of the individuals had been employed or had received training focused on job-related social skills. Initial training of each skill consisted of verbal explanations, modeling, and role-play with feedback, along with stimulus prompts to promote generalization to a different setting. Additional intervention components were introduced, as needed. Generalization across different social skills and evocative situations also was evaluated. Results indicated that the treatment package was generally effective in improving the targeted social skills and that stimulus prompts may be necessary for generalization to a job setting. However, generalized responding across social skills rarely emerged. These findings have important implications for preparing individuals with autism to function successfully on the job.


Effects of Error Correction on Lecture Comprehension and Writing of Adults With Intellectual Disabilities

JOLENE R. SY (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Marissa Erin Daly (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

With increases in the number of post-secondary educational opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities, more research is needed on instructional strategies that would be beneficial for this population. Although classroom response systems are beneficial in that they allow all learners to respond and provide the instructor with immediate feedback about student comprehension, repeated contact with questions posed to the class may be necessary for some learners. The purpose of this study was to examine whether an error correction procedure, in which incorrect responses were followed with feedback and the opportunity to respond correctly, could improve lecture comprehension and subsequent writing performance of eight adults with intellectual disabilities. Classroom instruction included lecture plus a modified classroom response system, students were provided with cover letter templates, and conditions with and without error correction were compared. Data analyzed to date suggest that both error correction and no error correction conditions resulted in large improvements in content, and minor improvements in grammar.




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