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 #116
Advancements in Social Communication Interventions for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Saturday, May 23, 2020
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 207B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Emily Gregori (University of Illinois, Chicago)
Discussant: Lisa Cushing (University of Illinois, Chicago)

Social communication deficits are a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010), and often require individualized and intensive intervention to remediate (Bambara et al., 2018). Fortunately, research has shown that interventions based on the principles of applied behavior analysis can significantly improve a number of social skills among this population (Camargo et al., 2016). Advances in policies surrounding the inclusion of individuals with ASD, as well as advances in technology, have begun to influence the development and delivery of behaviorally-based social communication interventions for this population. However, there is limited research to support (a) the delivery of social communication interventions in inclusive settings for individuals with ASD, or (b) the use of technology-based social communication interventions for adolescents and adults with ASD. Thus, the current symposium will present a series of studies that address limitations in the available research on this topic. Specifically, this symposium will include a series of studies that present the results of (a) a meta-analysis on social communication interventions implemented in inclusive public school classrooms, and (b) three experimental studies that evaluated the effects of technology-based social communication interventions, including telehealth and covert audio coaching, for adolescents and adults with ASD. Results of all studies suggest that social communication interventions can be effective when implemented in inclusive settings, and when implemented via distance technology. Presenters will discuss how the results of these studies can inform future research, as well as how practicing Board Certified Behavior Analysts® can use this information to improve service delivery.

Instruction Level: Intermediate

Social Communication Interventions Conducted in Inclusive Settings for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systemic and Quality Review

JENNA MARIE MATIJEVIC (Purdue University), Emily Gregori (University of Illinois, Chicago), Rose A. Mason (PUrdue University), Catharine Lory (Purdue University)

Deficits in social communication are a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and often require specialized intervention to remediate. Students with ASD enrolled in public schools are required by law to receive intervention for such deficits in inclusive settings. Despite legal and professional recommendations for the inclusion of students with ASD in general education, there is limited evidence to support the efficacy of behaviorally-based social communication interventions for this population when implemented in inclusive school settings. Thus, the purpose of this quality review, was to determine the methodological quality and efficacy of social communication interventions delivered in inclusive school settings, and to describe the characteristics of those studies. Of the 79 included studies, most (86%) demonstrated strong or moderate evidence of efficacy based on the visual analysis standards developed by the What Works Clearinghouse. Results indicate that students with ASD can make improvements in critical social communication skills when they receive intervention in inclusive settings. Characteristics of studies, future directions, and implications for practice are discussed.


The Effects of a Multi-Component Social Skills Self-Monitoring Program on Two Females Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder

MCKENZIE BACON (Missouri State University ), Linda G. Garrison-Kane (Missouri State University), Megan A. Boyle (Missouri State University), Wayne Mitchell (Missouri State University), Taylor Janota (Missouri State University )

Individuals diagnosed with ASD often struggle to engage in the skills necessary to engage in a back-and-forth conversation, or reciprocal social conversations (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Koegel, Park, & Koegel, 2014; Landa, 1992; Paul et al., 2004). An ABAB withdrawal design was employed to assess the use of a social skills program that consisted of 3 main components: (1) ASD on the Go module training; (2) social skills self-monitoring; and (3) goal setting on two participants with high functioning autism. During both treatment phases,participants were taught verbal components of a reciprocal conversation (initial response, elaborated response, and reciprocal question asking) as well as several important non-verbal components (eye contact, facial expression, and posture). Participants engaged in 10-min conversation sessions in which they self-monitored their use of verbal components and set goals related to increased frequency of verbal conversation components. Results showed an increase in verbal components for both participants. Mean frequency of verbal components per 10 min sessions for Participant 1 increased by 9.7 (initial responses), 9.3 (elaborated responses) and 20.7 (reciprocal question asking) from baseline to intervention. These increases indicate an overall increase in the turn-taking and appropriate reciprocal conversation of each participant.


Telepractice Parents Coaching in Naturalistic Strategies to Increase Communication Skills for Adolescents With Autism

SANIKAN WATTANAWONGWAN (Texas A&M University), J.B. GANZ (Texas A&M University), Lauren Pierson (Texas A&M University ), Claudia M Dunn (PhD Student at Texas A&M University ), Valeria Yllades (Texas A&M University ), Sarah Ura (Texas A&M University )

Telepractice coaching is a tool used to increase parents' fidelity for working with their children and decrease the gap between the available services and intervention requirements. This presentation will provide the process of using telepractice to provide naturalistic strategies for parents with adolescents with autism. The communicative interaction in adolescents requires communication interventions in a more complex interaction than an intervention that simple use with young children. Naturalistic strategies are evidence-based strategies on applied behavior analysis principles that parents could use to promote their child's communication skills in both verbal and non-verbal. By individualized coaching parents and giving them feedback via telepractice intervention, parents can increase their behavior skills and increase their children communication skills. We will report results of a single case multiple probe design that examined the effects of telepractice coaching in naturalistic strategies across four parents and their adolescents with autism.


Supporting Development of Social-Communication of Young Adults With Autism in Natural Settings: Impact of a Telecoaching Intervention

ROSE A. MASON (PUrdue University), Marie David (Purdue University), Emily Gregori (University of Illinois, Chicago)

Difficulties in social-communication often limit the ability of individuals with autism to engage in social interactions and develop meaningful relationships. Research indicates that deficits in social skills remain prevalent in adolescence and often lead to social isolation and loneliness. Unfortunately, there is limited research on social communication interventions for adolescents and adults with autism. Drawing on what we know from research with children, interventions often require the presence of an interventionist, to provide in-the-moment support. For young adults, when the value of social capital increases, the presence of an adult facilitator can create a barrier and additional social stigmatization. Implementation of tele-coaching, however, may provide a mechanism to assist with development of core skills while also facilitating social independence. This study utilized a multiple-baseline across participants design to evaluate the impact of tele-coaching to increase the social communication skills of four adolescents with autism. Implementation of tele-coaching resulted in the increase of targeted social communication skills and reduction of socially inappropriate behaviors across all participants. Implications for practice and recommendations for future research will be discussed.




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