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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #30
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Research in Teaching Social, Functional Living, and Vocational Skills to Adults With Developmental Disabilities
Saturday, May 25, 2024
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 112 AB
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: James Maraventano (Rutgers University)
CE Instructor: James Maraventano, Ed.D.

An often-cited barrier to independent living in adulthood for individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) is the ability to procure and/or maintain gainful employment. Upon turning 21 years old, resources, support, and funding for individuals with DD are significantly reduced, resulting in what is colloquially referred to as a “services cliff”. This lack of quality supports often contributes to poorer outcomes in the realms of acquiring and maintaining employment, managing mental and physical health, maintaining social relationships, and developing skills that promote independent living (e.g., functional living, problem solving, and vocational skills). It is critical to the role of support providers in adult services to employ evidence-based procedures to better improve outcomes of independent living for adults with DD. Our three presentations intend to disseminate recent research in assessing and teaching problem solving, interviewing, social and vocational skills to promote independence for adults with DD. Guido D’Angelo’s study evaluated a training package of behavioral skills training (BST) and token reinforcement to improve job-related social skills in natural contexts. Courtney Butler’s study evaluated the effects of a BST package to teach job interview skills to adults with ASD. Erika Cruz’s study evaluated the effects of a decision-making model and a BST package to teach problem solving skills to adults with ASD.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): adult autism, employment, interview skills, vocational skills
Target Audience:

This symposium is intended for behavior analytic professionals in the fields of adult service, education, and transition planning. Prerequisite skills for attendees include a knowledge of and/or experience utilizing behavior analytic assessments as teaching practices such as behavioral skills training and vocational assessments.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Discuss the utility of behavioral skills training and token reinforcement for teaching job-related social skills to adults with developmental disabilities (2) Understand and enact the use of behavioral skills training to teach interviewing skills to adults with autism (3) Utilize a written decision-making model incorporating behavioral skills training to teach problem-solving skills to adults with autism

An Individualized Approach to Teaching Adults With Autism to Successfully Navigate Job Interviews

COURTNEY BUTLER (Rutgers University), SungWoo Kahng (Rutgers University)

Despite the importance of employment, adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a lower likelihood of being employed compared to individuals with other disabilities and may experience challenges finding and maintaining employment regardless of intellectual and vocational. Adults with ASD experience challenges securing employment, which may partially explain overall underemployment or unemployment in this population. One of the first steps to obtaining employment is participating in a job interview. However, social communication deficits may interfere with an individual's ability to participate in a job interview. Our research included two university students with ASD who participated in a university support program as well as three adults with ASD in a community-based vocational support program. The goal of the training was to improve vocal interview skills as well as improve non-vocal behaviors. Data were collected to evaluate the effects of the various interview trainings. Results showed significant improvement from both participants in vocal behaviors in asking and answering questions. Results also showed improvement in head orientation, posture, and response. The preliminary results suggest that an individualized approach to training may be an effective strategy to help adults with ASD, with various support needs, to successfully navigate job interviews.


Assessing and Teaching Job-Related Social Skills to Adults With Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Italy

GUIDO D'ANGELO (DALLA LUNA - BARI), Claudio Radogna (Cooperativa Dalla Luna, Bari), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake)

The opportunity to find and maintain employment may be challenging for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD) given the social challenges in the work place. Despite the importance of regular employment, just a handful of studies have focused on interventions to improve job-related social skills of individuals with NDD in countries outside of the United States. In this study, we replicated and extended prior research by evaluating the acquisition, generality, and long-term maintenance of job-related social skills with three individuals with NDD residing in Italy. The training components included a package consisting of behavioral skills training (BST) and token reinforcement. Results suggested that the intervention was effective for teaching the skills and promoting the transfer of these skills to real work contexts. Furthermore, social validity surveys indicated that the participants, caregivers of individuals with NDD, and professionals considered the skills and interventions to be acceptable. These findings have implications for improving employment outcomes for individuals with NDD across the globe.


The Use of an Individualized Decision-Making Model to Teach Problem Solving Steps to an Adult With Autism

ERIKA CRUZ (Alpine Learning Group), Isamar Becerra (Alpine Learning Group), Stefanie Levi (Alpine Learning Group), Jaime DeQuinzio (Alpine Learning Group ), Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group)

Lora et al. (2020) effectively used activity schedules to teach a sequence of problem-solving responses during work tasks to adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Suarez et al., (2021) used a written flow chart to teach children with autism spectrum disorders to identify and find solutions for social problem solving. We partially replicated and extended this work by using a multiple probe design across three problem scenarios (unfamiliar task, broken items, insufficient materials) to determine the effects of a written decision-making model and components of behavioral skills training on the completion of problem-solving steps (i.e., identification of problems, identification of solutions, implementation of solutions) during vocational tasks in a young adult with autism spectrum disorder. With the implementation of the intervention, an adult with autism spectrum disorder was taught to use a written decision-making model evidenced by the percentage of problem-solving steps increased systematically across the scenarios over baseline levels to criterion performance.




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