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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #195
Supporting Social Interactions in Children with Autism
Sunday, May 24, 2015
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
217D (CC)
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Bethany P. Contreras Young (Utah State University )
Abstract: Programming for individuals with autism frequently includes social interaction goals. This symposium presents three data based studies that investigated a variety of ways to support social interactions in children with autism. Bartell and Betz investigated the effects of joint activity schedules, script fading, and graduated guidance on increasing vocal interactions during play activities with pairs of children diagnosed with autism. Fairman, Ingvarsson, and Mann investigated the effects of model prompts on bids for joint attention in children with autism. Finally, Peterson and Higbee investigated the utility of video-based preference assessments to identify preferred social stimuli that could function as reinforcers for individuals with autism. Data will be presented for all three studies, and implications of those data will be discussed.
Keyword(s): autism, prompting, social interactions
Using Joint Activity Schedules and Script Fading to Promote Social Interactions Between Children with Autism
KATRINA L. BARTELL (Scott Center for Autism Treatment at Florida Institute of Technology), Alison M. Betz (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Joint activity schedules and embedded script-fading procedures were used to teach three dyads of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to engage in social interactions during a sequence of play activities. A multiple baseline design across dyads was used to evaluate the effects of joint schedules, script fading and prompting procedures (graduated guidance) on independent performance, rates of social interactions, and types of contextual verbal behavior. Following baseline, results showed an increased stable level of on-task and on-schedule behaviors as a function of the joint activity schedules. However, joint activity schedules alone did not increase and maintain social interactions for any of the dyads. Thus, scripts were embedded on play stimuli to promote more opportunities for participants to engage in conversations about the ongoing activities and events occurring in the natural environment. Specifically, script-training procedures increased both taught and untaught verbal interactions across dyads. Future research and practical implications will be discussed.
The Effects of Minimally Intrusive Prompts on Joint Attention Initiations Maintained by Social Reinforcement in Children with Autism.
KIMBERLY FAIRMAN (University of North Texas), Einar T. Ingvarsson (University of North Texas), Tracie B. Mann (Child Study Center)
Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effects of minimally intrusive prompts on protodeclarative joint attention initiations in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The participants were two boys and one girl, ages 6 to 10. The experimenter provided attention and social interaction following protodeclarative initiations throughout the study. During intervention with the first participant, a model prompt was delivered every 30 s if the participant failed to initiate a bid for joint attention. The model prompt was sufficient to increase the rate of protodeclarative initiations across stimulus sets. Generalization was seen across sets, but not across environments. Subsequently, a model prompt was sufficient to increase the rate of protodeclarative initiations in a second setting (classroom), and generalization was seen with a set of novel toys. For the second participant, the introduction of pictures depicting high-interest items and activities was sufficient to increase the rate of protodeclarative initiations over time. Data collection is under way with a third participant. These findings show that minimally intrusive prompts and naturalistic consequences may be sufficient to establish protodeclarative initiations in children. However, this finding may be limited to those children for whom social interactions already function as reinforcers.
The Effectiveness of a Video-based Preference Assessment in Identifying Socially Reinforcing Stimuli
RACHELLE PETERSON (Neurobehavior H.O.M.E. program), Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University)
Abstract: The identification of preferred stimuli is a key component in-person centered planning. The most common forms of assessment, however, are limited to items that can be physically presented to individuals. Social reinforcers, or stimuli that involve interaction with another individual, cannot be easily assessed using this traditional format. Difficulties in assessing and identifying preferred social stimuli can severely limit individuals’ opportunity to participate in reinforcing social experiences, which are critical for development. This project examined a video-based preference assessment and the reliability and validity with which it identified a defined hierarchy of social reinforcers. The highest and lowest preferred stimuli identified in these preference assessments were analyzed in a reinforcer assessment. For each of the three participants the highest social reinforcer selected increased responding above baseline and low preference conditions. It can be determined that the video based preference assessment identified a true hierarchy of preferred and non-preferred social stimuli for each participant.



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