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 #443
CE Offered: BACB
Play With Me! Evaluations of the Use of Script Training and Lag Schedules to Establish Play Behaviors and Social Interactions in Children With Autism
Monday, May 28, 2018
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom H
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Cassondra M Gayman (Translational Technologies International)
CE Instructor: Cassondra M Gayman, M.S.

Impairments in communication and social interactions along with restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior comprise the core characteristics of autism (DSM-5). These deficits often manifest as deficient play skills, especially when play includes a social context. The play skills of children with autism may appear rote or repetitive. Additionally, play skills may lack the key component of language whether solitary or when play includes peers. Behavioral research supports the use of script training as well as manipulations of reinforcement schedules to teach children with autism play skills as well as social interactions. However, additional research is warranted to address topics such as skill generalization and maintenance once scripts or programed reinforcement schedules are removed. This symposium will focus on 3 studies, each with a specific aim to address these skills in children with autism. One study utilizes scripts and script fading to addresses verbal behavior during play for 3 dyads of children with autism. A second study addresses variability of play and play skill generalization through the use of a Lag schedule. While the final study evaluates script format (auditory or textual) and the efficiency of producing contextually-appropriate spontaneous language in children with autism. Implications for generalization, skill maintenance, as well as future research possibilities will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): autism, multiple exemplars, play, script training
Target Audience:

Practitioners and Researchers

Learning Objectives: 1. Participants will describe the role of script training in teaching vocal verbal behavior. 2. Participants will describe Lag schedules and how they can be utilized to establish variability in responding. 3. Participants will describe generalization and maintenance of play skills once scripts and programmed reinforcment are removed.

The Use of Script Training to Promote Coordinated Social Interactions Among Pairs of Children With Autism

CASSONDRA M GAYMAN (Translational Technologies International), Sarah Frampton (May Institute), Dianna Shippee Walters (Marcus Autism Center), Brittany Lee Bartlett (Marcus Autism Center), Taylor Thompson (Marcus Autism Center), Sandra Shirk (Marcus Autism Center), Devorah Story (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (May Institute)

Decades of research suggest that script training approaches can be used to teach social skills to children with autism. The current study extended this line of research by applying script training procedures to an activity with embedded reinforcement (i.e., a treasure hunt) among pairs of children with autism. In baseline, the children did not initiate social interactions with one another. During treatment, text scripts were used to teach the target child to recruit attention from a peer and echoic prompts were used to teach the peer to comment in response to the target child. During the post-test, the children in 2 out of the 3 pairs consistently emitted recruits for attention and reciprocal comments without any adult mediated reinforcement. Implications for observational learning, script fading, generalization, and the use of rules to assist in the removal of adult support will be discussed.


Promoting Generalization of Varied Play Behavior With Children With Autism

BETHANY P. CONTRERAS YOUNG (University of Missouri ), Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University), Annie Galizio (Utah State University), Azure Pellegrino (Utah State University), Lorraine A Becerra (Utah State University), Amy Heaps (Utah State University)

One of the defining characteristics of autism is the presence of excessive repetitive behaviors. Many children with autism engage in rigid and repetitive play. Researchers have shown that variability of play behavior, among other behaviors, can be increased through contingencies of reinforcement. However, little is known regarding generalization of response variability beyond the specific responses that are trained. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of combining multiple exemplar training with discrimination training on promoting generalization of varied play behavior to untrained play materials. After increasing variability of play behavior by implementing lag schedules across multiple play sets, we observed generalization of varied play to untrained play sets with all three participants.


An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Textual and Auditory Presentation of Scripts to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

LORRAINE A BECERRA (Utah State University), Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University), Kristen Kelley (Trumpet Behavioral Health ), Stephanie Cousin (Utah State University)

Children with autism often have difficulty producing spontaneous language and social initiations (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013). Current research suggests that scripts are an effective tool for teaching children diagnosed with autism play based initiations (Reagon & Higbee, 2009). While there are data to support the effectiveness of script and script fading procedures, there is little to no information regarding the relative effectiveness of the auditory versus textual script formats for children with autism. The purpose of the present investigation was to determine which script format, auditory or textual, was the most efficient at producing contextually-appropriate spontaneous language in three children between 3 and 5 years old with autism.




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