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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #273
CE Offered: BACB
Promoting Leisure Activities for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sunday, May 24, 2020
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 201
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Robert W. Isenhower (Rider University )
CE Instructor: Robert W. Isenhower, Ph.D.

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have limited opportunity to engage in leisure activities, including physical, social, and informal activities. Additionally, these skills often need to be explicitly taught to these individuals. The overall goal of this symposium is to examine behavior analytic approaches to increasing the participation in and usefulness of leisure activities for individuals with ASD. The first study assesses leisure activities across several dimensions to determine which types of activities learners have preference and aptitude for in order to select appropriate leisure activities for individuals with ASD who require significant support. The second study uses Behavioral Skills Training to teach individuals with ASD how to take photographs, and provides an example of how to teach new leisure skills to individuals with ASD. The third study evaluates the instructional setting in which leisure activities are taught and provides empirical support for embedding social skills instruction within the leisure activity context. Overall, this symposium promotes the acquisition, assessment, and evaluation of leisure activities as an important set of functional skills for individuals with ASD across the lifespan.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Assessment, Functional Skills, Leisure Activities, Skill Acquisition
Target Audience:

The target audience of this symposium are behavior analysts, clinicians, practitioners, and graduate students who work with individuals with autism spectrum disorder in a skill acquisition context.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this symposium participants will be able to: 1) Use concurrent operant arrangements to determine client preference for leisure activities 2) Use Behavioral Skills Training (BST) to teach individuals with autism new leisure activities 3) Use different intervention settings to enhance the efficacy of BST to teach leisure activities

Assessing Preference and Aptitude for Leisure Activities for Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder

ROBERT W. ISENHOWER (Rider University ), Jenna Budge (Rutgers University), James Maraventano (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center), Robert LaRue (Rutgers University)

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have limited opportunity in choosing novel and engaging leisure activities, and behavior analysts need guidance in identifying leisure activities their clients may prefer. Four adult clients participated in a leisure activities assessment in three phases. During Phase 1 concurrent operant arrangements were used to develop a client profile for each of three critical leisure skills components: social interaction versus no interaction; electronic versus non-electronic tasks; and stationary tasks versus those that require movement. Figure 1 shows the percent of session learners engaged with each of the three component comparisons. Data revealed clear patterns for 3 of 4 participants. Phase 2 compared client on-task behavior for a leisure activity matched and a leisure activity unmatched to the profile generated in Phase 1. Clients were on-task more often for activities matched to profile (Figure 2). Phase 3 assessed client preference for the matched versus the unmatched activity using another concurrent operant arrangement. Clients showed preference for the matched activity (Figure 3). Overall, this study presents a user-friendly leisure activity assessment that considers both client preference and aptitude in determining appropriate leisure activities for individuals with ASD who require significant support.


Teaching Photography as a Leisure Skill to Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Caitlyn Gumaer (Claremont Graduate University), ALICIA TSAI (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)

Children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) seldom participate in leisure activities including social, physical, and informal activities (Matson, Hattier & Belva, 2012). However, participation in such activities can allow children and adolescents an opportunity to increase social and communication skills, increase social acceptance, and increase independence and overall quality of life (Garcia-Villamisar & Dattilo, 2011). The present study used a multiple baseline design across 8 participants to assess the effectiveness of teaching simple photography skills. Using behavioral skills training, all 8 participants learned how to use a digital camera to take pictures. For the six participants who met mastery criterion, photography skills maintained at follow-up. Findings from the current study may yield implications for leisure skill interventions for children and adolescents with ASD.


Spontaneous Social and Language Behaviors of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder During Physical Play

BENJAMIN R. THOMAS (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)

Physical play is a natural context for children’s social and language development. Unfortunately, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are less likely to engage in physical play and are more socially isolated on playgrounds and at recess than peers without ASD. Although much of typically developing children's socializing occurs on playgrounds, the majority of behavioral social skills groups for children with ASD take place in classrooms or therapy settings, with limited generalization to natural play settings (Bellini, Peters, Brenner, & Hopf, 2007; Kasari & Locke, 2011). Therefore, this study used a multiple-baseline across-participants design to compare the effects of two intervention settings, physical play-based (e.g., playground games) and classroom-based (e.g., board games and collaborative arts & crafts activities), on several spontaneous social behaviors of six children with ASD. Results indicate that all children engaged in more spontaneous talking, eye contact, play, clowning, and happiness behavior, and displayed fewer inappropriate behaviors during physical play-based intervention sessions compared to baseline or the classroom-based sessions. The present findings suggest several implications for incorporating physical play into developmental language research and practice for children with ASD.




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