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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #351
CE Offered: BACB
Increasing Peer Interactions in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders Across the Age Range
Monday, May 25, 2009
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
North 120 BC
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Michael J. Morrier (Emory University School of Medicine)
Discussant: Gail G. McGee (Emory University School of Medicine)
CE Instructor: John Eshleman, Ed.D.
Abstract: Deficits in social interaction skills are the hallmark of receiving a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), yet little research has focused on how to train teachers to implement social curricula. Traditional treatment protocols have historically focused on language and cognitive gains (Harris & Handleman, 2000; Lovaas, 1987; McEachin et al., 1993), and have paid little attention to peer-related social skills. This symposium will describe ways to increase social skills in individuals with ASD ages 15 months – 25 years. The first presentation will describe a personnel preparation system that quickly trains teachers to implement peer social curriculum with an inclusive preschool group. The second will describe a social curriculum that increases peer social skills in middle school students with ASD. The third will describe a social skills curriculum for young adults with ASD that focuses on increasing social interaction skills and participation in community social events. Data presented will demonstrate how to prepare teachers to teach age-appropriate social skills and how to increase social skills in natural environments. Benchmarks for social skill goals and objectives will be presented for young adults will ASD. Symposium participants will be able to use benchmark data and program descriptions to implement effective social skills curricula in their community-based settings.
Training Teachers to Implement a Social Skills Curriculum in an Inclusive Preschool Classroom
Gail G. McGee (Emory University School of Medicine), Michael J. Morrier (Emory University School of Medicine), SHARON T. HYNES (Emory University)
Abstract: Preparation of teachers for preschoolers with autism requires a specific protocol in order to promote positive social gains in this population (McGee & Morrier, 2005). The task becomes more difficult since personnel preparation research has no studies that specifically address how to train teachers to implement curricula designed at promoting peer interactions. Preschoolers with autism require hour intensive treatment to remediate the social and language deficits inherent in the disorder (NRC, 2001). Teaching staff to implement language instruction requires the adult to be physically present and attending to the needs of each child, while social skill instruction requires teachers to fade their presence as quickly as possible to ensure that child-child interactions focus on one another rather than on the adults (Strain, McGee, & Kohler, 2001). This presentation will describe the evaluation of a staff training system designed to quickly enable teachers to teach an inclusive group of children with autism and their typical peers. Data (additional to be collected) will be presented that compares the two training systems and the impact on children’s social interactions during ongoing classroom activities. Results will help inform trainers of how to train staff to promote child social interaction skills in children with autism.
Improving Playground Interactions Between Included Students with ASD in Public Schools Through the STAR Program
SHEILA J. WAGNER (Emory University), Patricia Buckley (DeKalb County Public Schools)
Abstract: Research has demonstrated that inclusive programming offers valuable social opportunities for students with autism to learn socially appropriate behaviors (Owen-DeSchryver et. al., 2008). However, during regularly scheduled recess many of these same students remain socially isolated from their typically developing peers. Research has also shown that proximity alone does not guarantee increased interactions in a recess setting (Anderson et al., 2004) and that peer training is helpful in increasing the interactions between disabled students and non-disabled students (Kohler et al., 1995; Lee & Odom, 1996). In an effort to increase peer initiations to students with autism at recess, findings will replicate those of previous evaluations of the STAR Program (Boyd et al., 2008) (data to be collected) as demonstrated using a multiple probe single subject design on three dyads of students. Each dyad consisted of one student with an autism spectrum disorder and one student who was non-disabled. The results show increased numbers of interactions between the students with ASD and their non-disabled classmates. These results will be discussed in light of inclusive programming and strategies that can be used within public and private schools.
Helping Young Adults with ASD “Get a Life”: Increasing Social Interactions with Typical Same-Aged Peers
ALISON MCKAY OLIVER (Emory Autism Center), Toni Thomas (Emory Autism Center), Michael J. Morrier (Emory University School of Medicine), Gail G. McGee (Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: Adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are characterized by deficits in reciprocal social interactions, communication, and interests and behaviors (APA, 2000). To date, little research has been conducted on how to remediate these deficits and assist young adults to participate in community activities. Research on the differences in social behavior in natural settings between typical adults and adults with ASD has not been conducted. Following Todd Risley’s (1996) premise that treatment for adults should help them “Get a Life!”, a treatment package has been developed to assist adults with ASD to develop and to use age-appropriate social skills. The package involves weekly small group instruction and monthly practice of social skills during social events with typically-developing college- aged students. This presentation will describe the social treatment developed, as well as present data on the differences between 10 adults with ASD and 10 typical peers. Data (additional data to be collected) to be presented includes self-reports of social skills and contacts with friends, structured behavioral observations collected during social events, and the perceived importance of these skills for “Getting a Life”. Discussion will focus on implementing this protocol in community-based activities and areas of future research for adults with ASD.



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