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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #343
CE Offered: BACB
Increasing Advanced Interpersonal and Community Skills in Children with Autism
Monday, May 28, 2007
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Elizabeth G
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Discussant: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
CE Instructor: Gerald E. Harris, Ph.D.

Early behavioral intervention has well demonstrated the ability to instill or increase basic social and interpersonal skills in children with autism. However, there remain many areas where programming is less well developed. This symposium presents data-based procedures for addressing problems in pedestrian safety, non-food ingestion, and joint attention skills. These areas are often more challenging to treat than basic language, academic, and self-help deficits. As behavioral interventions become more widespread and effective, increased numbers of children need assistance with the more subtle skills. The first presentation reports on a program designed to improve childrens ability to be safe in high risk situations in the community. Automobile awareness and safety while walking are important safety skills for all children to have. The second presentation describes an ABA intervention to help a child with severe Pica. Many children with autism have additional diagnoses, and Pica not only constitutes a serious threat to the childs well-being, but is notoriously difficult to treat in a natural environment. The third presentation describes a 3-phase behavioral intervention to increase joint attention in children with autism, thus allowing the shared awareness and experience that makes social interaction so rewarding.

Teaching Pedestrian Safety Skills to Children with Autism.
KRISTEN MCCLINTOCK (Texas Young Autism Project), Maureen Childs (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Little research exists on teaching community safety skills to children with autism. One study by Childs, McClintock, and Harris (2005) demonstrated behavioral methods to teach children with autism pedestrian skills. The present study extends those findings and also examines long-term maintenance of the skills by previously trained children (> 1 year post-test). The dependent variable for this study was safe pedestrian skills, defined as mastery of nine skills outlined in the task analysis. The sample included two typically developing children and five children with autism enrolled in a discrete trial ABA program. Participants were taught pedestrian skills first with use of a 3D model and then through training at familiar intersections in each child’s neighborhood. Results of a multiple-baseline design indicate that post-intervention, most participants demonstrated a significant increase in pedestrian skills compared to baseline, although the typically developing children made greater increases. Inter-observer agreement was above 90% for all phases. Long-term maintenance of pedestrian skills for previously trained children was found to be very good. These findings demonstrate the ability of a specific behavioral approach to teach children basic skills for crossing the street while having awareness of moving vehicles, and that these skills can be well maintained.
Joint Attention Skills: A Three-Phase Intervention.
TREA DRAKE (Texas Young Autism Project), Jennifer Shen (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Joint attention has been identified as an essential element of a functional social repertoire. Deficits in joint attention often serve as discriminative behavioral markers in children with autism. This study evaluates a treatment protocol developed by the Texas Young Autism Project designed to improve joint attention skills of children with autism. Seven children receiving ABA treatment participated in the study. In Phase 1, each child’s ability to respond to the joint attention bids of others and to initiate joint attention exchanges was addressed. All participants reached mastery criteria in both responding to the joint attention bids of others and initiating joint attention. Phase 2 treatment protocol emphasized generalization of the skills to the child’s home environment. Assessment of joint attention skills in the home environment revealed that the skills did generalize. Phase 3 of the intervention taught and demonstrated generalization of joint attention skills to a wider range of settings. Inter-observer agreement was evaluated for 30% of the sessions revealing an average agreement of 95%.
ABA Treatment for Pica in a Natural Environment.
TREA DRAKE (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: A number of children with autism are also co-diagnosed with Pica, a difficult to treat disorder with significant risks for the child’s physical well-being. Existing research literature on ABA interventions for Pica only describe treatment in a controlled setting, such as an institution. While this is important the real question for many behaviorists is how to intervene in a child’s natural environment. The present case study describes the design and implementation of a behavioral intervention for a young male, diagnosed with both autism and Pica, that occurs in the child’s home environment. Careful attention to single subject research methodology, in addition to the clinical issues, provided good baseline, reversal, outcome and follow-up data. Specific techniques and answers to logistical problems encountered are discussed. Time sampling procedures resulted in good interobserver agreement (> .90).



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