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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #30
CE Offered: BACB
Higher-Order Social Interactions Among Individuals Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Saturday, May 29, 2021
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Faris Rashad Kronfli (Rutgers University)
Discussant: Stephanie A. Hood (Marquette University )
CE Instructor: Faris Rashad Kronfli, Ph.D.
Abstract: The current symposium will focus on research in the area of higher-order social interactions among individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The first presenter will discuss differences in participant behavior when engaged in preferred and nonpreferred conversation topics. The second presenter will discuss the effect of utilizing preferred conversation topics as reinforcers to improve appropriate speech. The third presenter will describe an assessment to identify sensitivity to disinterested behavior among conversational partners. The fourth presenter will provide a literature review of greetings and their importance within interactions.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): autism, conversations, social skills
Target Audience: Audience members should be actively acquiring (or have acquired) an RBT or BCBA certificate.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion fo the presentation, participants will be able to 1) describe procedures to evaluate potential skill deficits among individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, 2) identify procedures to utilize conversation topics as putative reinforcers, and 3) describe effective strategies and future directions in the area of teaching greeting skills.
Comparing Participation During Conversations Using Preferred and Nonpreferred Topics
FARIS RASHAD KRONFLI (Rutgers University), Courtney Butler (Rutgers University), Christeen Scarpa (Rutgers University), SungWoo Kahng (Rutgers University)
Abstract: Individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) might struggle to participate in conversations if the topic is nonpreferred. However, it is beneficial for all individuals to participate in conversations across a variety of topics as they provide opportunities to learn more about their peers. We measured how often college students participated in a conversation across multiple topographies when the topic was preferred or nonpreferred. Then, we taught individuals with lower levels of participation during nonpreferred topics skills to increase their participation during these conversations. Results suggest that participation in a conversation was oftentimes related to the individual’s preference for the topic, but responding improved after teaching participation skills.
A Hierarchical Assessment of Response to Conversational Cues of Disinterest Conducted via Telehealth
CATHERINE KISHEL (The University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit deficits in social interaction and communication. Kronfli, Vollmer, Parks, & Hack (in prep) developed an in-person assessment to identify participant response to social cues indicating disinterest in a conversation. The current study sought to extend these procedures to the identification and remediation of deficits in conversation skills via telehealth given the ongoing global pandemic. Participants progressed through a hierarchy of social cues of disinterest, ranging in salience from one-word responses to a clear verbal statement of disinterest. For those individuals for whom a deficit was identified, behavioral skills training (BST) was conducted to teach them how to identify and respond appropriately to cues of disinterest exhibited by a conversation partner. Initial results support the utility of using a hierarchical assessment model to identify specific conversation skill deficits and to inform subsequent individualized treatment.
Further Comparison of Preference for Intervention With and Without Restricted Topics
MEG ROHIT PATEL (University of the Pacific), Corey S. Stocco (University of the Pacific)
Abstract: Previous research has shown that individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may dwell on restricted topics of interest during conversations (Mercier et al., 2000; Smerbeck, 2019). Stocco et al. (in press) found that individuals may prefer a conversational-skill intervention that includes access to restricted topics over an intervention that only provides high-quality attention for speech about experimenter-led topics. We replicated and extended Stocco et al. in two ways. First, we evaluated if speech about restricted topics (a) occurred at high levels and (b) was sensitive to interested responses from a listener. Second, we experimentally evaluated the additive effects of using restricted topics as reinforcement on participant preference for intervention. Finally, we sought to evaluate the reliability and generality of previous findings by conducting this study using telehealth. All participants spoke about restricted topics at high levels, and their speech was sensitive to different qualities of attention. Additionally, two out of three participants preferred an intervention with access to restricted topics, compared to an intervention that only included differential attention. These outcomes may have implications for practitioners who are asked to conduct virtual assessments or interventions for clients who engage in speech about restricted topics.
Greeting Skills: A Systematic Review of the Literature
CARLEANA HICKEY (Caldwell University), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell University), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell University), Meghan Deshais (Caldwell University), Eileen Mary Milata (Caldwell University)
Abstract: Individuals with disabilities often demonstrate difficulty in social communication skills such as greetings. Studies have shown that deficits in greetings may negatively affect social interactions and vocational opportunities. Therefore, previous research has evaluated a variety of teaching procedures to increase greetings for individuals with disabilities with varying efficacy. This review of the literature provides an overview of the identified studies to date in which greetings were taught to individuals with intellectual disabilities. A variety of teaching procedures were identified and the implications of those procedures are discussed. Results suggest that multiple teaching procedures may be effective; however, component analyses, further replication, and modified generalization procedures are necessary. Implications for future researchers include providing technological descriptions of teaching procedures, identifying a technological definition of greetings and identifying functionally equivalent social skill response classes.



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