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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #117
CE Offered: BACB
Strategies for Teaching Play Skills and Appropriate Social Behaviors to Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Saturday, May 28, 2022
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 257B
Area: AUT/DEV; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jessica Anna Osos (Utah State University)
Discussant: Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell University)
CE Instructor: Sharon A. Reeve, M.A.

Children with autism spectrum disorders often have marked deficits in social communication and social interaction skills. Additionally, some children with autism do not naturally develop play skills. This symposium includes three applied research presentations related to teaching play skills and appropriate social behaviors to children with autism and one literature review presentation of behavior analytic procedures for teaching play to children with autism. One applied research presentation examined the effects of a caregiver-implemented digital activity schedule with virtual coaching on independent play behaviors of children with autism. The second applied research presentation evaluated a treatment package including multiple exemplar training to teach pretend play skills to toddlers with autism. The third applied research presentation examined the establishing honesty and teaching alternative behaviors on transgressions and lying for two young children with and without autism.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): activity schedules, multiple exemplar, play skills, social skills
Target Audience:

Researchers and practicioners

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Summarize the main findings from a literature review of the behavior analytic procedures for teaching play to this population will be reviewed and discussed, (2) Name and define activity schedules, (3) Name and define multiple exemplar training as a strategy to teach pretend play skills, (4) Name and define at least two strategies for teaching play skills, and (4) Name and define transgressions and lying.

Caregiver-Implemented Digital Activity Schedule With Virtual Coaching

JULIANA AGUILAR (Utah State University), Sara Peck (USU), Stephanie Mattson (Utah State University), Kassidy Reinert (Utah State University), Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many insurance companies approved the funding of telehealth-based behavior analytic services for both training and direct-care purposes. Activity Schedules are a simple and effective intervention that can be used in the home environment to improve independence for children with ASD. Recent efforts have shifted the format of activity schedules from paper-based schedules to digital platforms that make the schedules more portable and provide easier access for both the caregiver and the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Google is a readily available web-based platform that has been used to design and deliver behavior analytic instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. A non-concurrent multiple baseline across participants design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of a caregiverimplemented digital activity schedule intervention on the independent play behaviors of children with ASD. The activity schedule was created and shared on the Google Slides platform and caregivers received telehealth-based coaching from practitioners to implement the intervention. Preliminary results demonstrated the effectiveness of the digital platform and coaching intervention were effective in increasing independent schedule following. We hope that the results of this study provide BCBAs with additional guidance on effective interventions and procedures for remote service delivery.

Teaching Pretend Play
LAURA WILHELM (The New England Center for Children: Western New England University), William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children: Western New England University )
Abstract: Pretend play is a social skill that emerges early in typically developing children and has been shown to be an important contributor to the development of a child’s social and language skills (MacDonald et al., 2005, 2009). Unlike typically developing children, children with autism often exhibit persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, in addition to engaging in restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. This study evaluated in-vivo modeling, least-to-most prompting, and multiple exemplar training on the quality of pretend play skills with three toddlers diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The toddler participants observed their teachers model a play scenario, then had an opportunity to complete the scenario independently, and the teachers used least-to-most prompting. Each participant was taught nine play scenarios, three scenarios per play theme (e.g., firefighter, chef, and doctor play themes). Test probes were systematically conducted throughout to determine whether generalization within and across play sets had occurred. Interobserver agreement (IOA) was scored for a minimum of 33% of sessions with 90% or higher agreement. Preliminary results of this study indicate an increase in scripted and pretend play following training.
Teaching Play Skills: Review of the Literature
ELIZABETH MESHES (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles), Adel C. Najdowski (Pepperdine University), Angela M. Persicke (Pepperdine University), Emma Isabel Moon (Endicott College)
Abstract: Play engagement is highly correlated with educational, physical, and socio-emotional success. Some autistic children do not naturally engage in play, and this may serve as a barrier in advancement in other areas as well as be socially stigmatizing. Behavior analysis has been effective in teaching various forms of play using a range of interventions. An overview of the behavior analytic procedures for teaching play to this population will be reviewed and discussed.

Establishing Honesty and Minimizing Transgressions With Young Children

ROBERT K. LEHARDY (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Kevin C. Luczynski (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Maya Fallon (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Javid Rahaman (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)

From ages 2-4, children learn to transgress by touching or taking items without permission and how to tell simple lies to avoid discipline (Wilson et al., 2003). Through age 7, children learn to lie more convincingly (Lee, 2013) and by age 11 learn to maintain their lies despite adult’s attempts to uncover them (Talwar et al., 2007). If one’s transgressions and lies are not addressed, existing peer or familial relationships may be damaged and forming future relationships may be disrupted. We evaluated a treatment package composed of rules (Blakely and Schlinger, 1987) and reinforcement for do-say correspondence (Sauter et al., 2020) to increase honest reports for one 6-year-old child without and one 7-year-old child with autism, both of whom were reported to transgress and lie. After establishing honesty, we then taught children self-control behaviors they could do instead of transgressing. Functional control over increased honesty was demonstrated using a nonconcurrent multiple-baseline design across children and control over reducing transgressions was demonstrated using a reversal design. The results support practitioners using the intervention to first teach children how to be honest and then teach children alternative behaviors they may do instead of transgressing.




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