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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #293
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Technological Advances and Extension Assessment and Treatment of Eye Contact
Sunday, May 26, 2019
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency East, Lobby Level, Plaza Ballroom AB
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Gabrielle Morgan (Endicott College )
CE Instructor: Hayley Neimy, M.S.

Three presentations focusing on advances and extensions in the assessment and treatment of eye contact will be highlighted. First, eye contact will be discussed in a historical context, including how it has been typically defined, how data have been collected with and/or without the use of technology, and how eye contact has been treated historically among individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Then, preliminary pilot data will be reviewed demonstrating the effects of a video game for teaching various social skills, particularly eye contact, and how this can be subsequently shaped through the use of video game technology. Finally, eye contact will be discussed in the context of the development, data collection, and analysis of eye contact in relation to socially valid performance measures among school-age learners with ASD. Thoughts, future direction, and extensions are discussed in the context of appropriate clients, generalization, and social validity.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts and students of behavior analysis

Learning Objectives: 1) Participants will learn the development, collection, and analysis of measures of eye contact that are socially valid among individuals with ASD 2) Participants will learn how eye contact has been defined, operationalized, and intervened upon using various aspects of technology among individuals diagnosed with ASD 3) Participants will learn how technology has been used in assisting in the data collection and treatment of eye contact deficits historically 4) Participants will learn how the use of video games and other technologies may facilitate the development of socially valid eye contact along individuals with ASD

Technological Advances in Recording and Treating Eye Contact Deficits in Children Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review

GABRIELLE MORGAN (Endicott College), Hayley Neimy (Shabani Institute; Endicott College), Mary Jane Weiss (Endicott College), Emily Gallant (Somerset Hills Learning Institute)

Eye contact has long been noted as a deficit in individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The use of technology to track and measure impairments in social eye gaze, appropriate eye contact, and identification of emotions has evolved as the technology has advanced. These advancements in measurement have included methods for measuring where the individual is looking on the face, how often the individual is looking at the eyes, the duration of time spent gazing, and the ability of the individual to obtain socially relevant information about others such as emotional state or object of attention. This review will discuss the history of these definitional issues, the timeline of technological advances, the role of technology in measuring eye contact and eye gaze. In addition, we will discuss how technological advances have improved our understanding of eye contact impairments, as well as interventions for improving social eye contact in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Future implications of advances in technological measurement of social eye contact and eye gaze will also be discussed.


Preliminary Data on Improvement in Social Skills Following Video Game Exposure

HAYLEY NEIMY (Shabani Institute; Endicott College), Amy M. Golden (Biostream), Kristin N. Foley (Endicott College), Mary Jane Weiss (Endicott College), GABRIELLE MORGAN (Endicott College)

The use of video games to build social skills is an interesting possibility that has received increased attention in recent years. Using video games to teach skills is intriguing for several reasons. High-interest, preferred gaming might provide many learning opportunities for shaping skills, and individuals who select to spend time gaming might benefit from games with identified social skill acquisition targets. Specifically, it may be possible to shape eye contact into socially acceptable forms. In this presentation, preliminary data will be presented on video games that are intended to increase core social skills. Data will be presented on the extent to which eye contact can be shaped within video games. In addition, data will be presented on the extent of change observed following game exposure, in dyadic interaction tasks. Additional information will be shared on the social validity data attained from exposure to such games. Questions on dosing, engagement, and generalization will be posed, and suggestions for future investigations of these questions will be explored.

Recent Developments in Objective Measures of Eye Contact
EMILY GALLANT (Somerset Hills Learning Center), Kevin J. Brothers (Somerset Hills Learning Institute), E. Dennis Machado (Somerset Hills Learning Institute)
Abstract: Extensive literature exists characterizing pre-intervention levels of eye contact for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, this does not yet form a strong foundation for applied interventions. For example, studies have typically been conducted under highly contrived conditions rather than during more naturalistic interactions, and overwhelmingly focus on characterizing rather than teaching eye contact. Existing characterizations rarely operationalize eye contact in a manner that facilitates applied investigation or reflects socially meaningful performance. Additionally, there is a paucity of evidence regarding normative ranges of features of eye contact. The current presentation, in response, describes the development, collection, and analysis of measures of eye contact that correlate to socially valid performance and are suitable for investigating interventions to improve eye contact for school-age learners with ASD. Video of individuals with ASD is captured using a camera worn by a conversation partner; dependent variables are coded from video using specialized software and summarized to produce baseline measures of eye contact. Normative ranges of performance by an equal number of same-aged and same gender peers are included. We will conclude by discussing how these data lay the groundwork for future research to improve eye contact by learners with ASD in socially meaningful ways.



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