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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #159
Application of Descriptive and Experimental Assessment Procedures to Social Skill Interventions for Children with Autism
Sunday, May 29, 2005
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Continental C (1st floor)
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Brian A. Boyd (University of Florida)
Abstract: The field of behavior analysis has firmly established the utility of interventions based on functional analysis procedures to decrease the problem behavior of children from a variety of populations (Asmus et al., in press). However, few studies have addressed the social behaviors of children with disabilities. Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are one population for whom effective social skill interventions are needed because of their significant social deficits. Syntheses of the literature using meta-analyses revealed moderate effects for social skill interventions targeting children with behavioral disorders and autism (Marthur et al., 1998). One reason for this finding may be the disconnection between assessment methods and the development of social skill interventions. Therefore, the purpose of this symposium is to highlight the efficacy of using sound assessment procedures to develop interventions for children with ASD. The symposium will include four presentations to: provide an overview and critique of the literature targeting the social skills of children with autism; link descriptive assessment methods to the development of interventions; demonstrate the efficacy of structural analyses to determine the evocative effects of specific antecedents of social behavior; and demonstrate the efficacy of functional analysis procedures to determine the maintaining consequences of social behavior.
Review of Evidence-Based Practices for Social Skills Interventions for Preschoolers with Autism
KIMBERLY CRAWFORD (Florida State University), Howard Goldstein (Florida State University)
Abstract: A good deal of literature has reported interventions targeting social skills in preschoolers with autism. This presentation will introduce a set of criteria that can be used to judge “Evidence-Based Practices.” Criteria were developed to evaluate single-subject and group experimental designs according to: (a) Experimental design characteristics, (b) Measurement and reliability, (c) Evaluation of treatment effects, and (d) External validity dimensions. These criteria were applied to 47 articles investigating social skills interventions for preschoolers with autism. Articles were categorized by type of design and method of intervention and were subsequently rated to determine whether claims for efficacious treatments could be substantiated. Results of this review will be summarized and tables will illustrate the adequacy of the studies across the dimensions rated. The implications of these ratings on suggested methods and the needs for future research will be discussed.Key words: autism, evidence-based practice, preschool, social skills interventions
Increasing Functional Communication Skills of Elementary Students with ASD: Written-Text Cueing within Peer-Mediated Interventions
KATHY THIEMANN (Juniper Gardens Children's Project)
Abstract: Recent studies have documented the benefits of including written text and pictorial cues to teach specific communication skills to young elementary students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as they participate in peer-mediated social interventions. To improve functional and age-appropriate language skills using written text cues, it is important to first gather detailed information from parents and teachers on children’s reading, communication, and social competencies. In addition, data on communication performance of peers without disabilities across anticipated social settings will assist with goal selection and setting target skill criterions. This session will review initial assessment methods used prior to implementing written-text and peer-mediated interventions, including both standardized and researcher developed tools. Data will then be presented on the effectiveness of these intervention approaches on improving social and communicative skills of a particular subgroup of young students with ASD as they interact with peers across inclusive school settings. Keywords: autism, inclusion, interventions, peer training, social communication, visual cues
Evocative Effects of the Repetitive Behavior of Children with Autism on their Social Behavior with Peers
BRIAN A. BOYD (University of Florida), Maureen Conroy (University of Florida), Peter Alter (University of Florida)
Abstract: Meta-analyses of past social skill interventions targeting young children with autism and emotional/behavioral disorders found modest effects for many of these interventions (Marthur et al., 1998). One of the problems social skill interventions may encounter is the difficulty identifying the maintaining consequence(s) of the appropriate social behavior of young children in naturalistic settings, thus making it more difficult to link the functional assessment of social behavior to the development of the intervention. Conroy and Stichter (2003) posit that in the absence of specific knowledge of maintaining consequences, antecedent-based interventions may persist more readily. The restricted or narrow interests of young children with autism may serve as robust antecedent predictors of their social behavior. The restricted interests of young children with autism are thought to function as a subclass of repetitive or self-stimulatory behavior (Lovaas et al., 1987). This presentation will discuss the structural analysis methods used to demonstrate the evocative effects of the restricted interests of three children with autism on their appropriate social behavior with peers. Interobserver agreement was obtained for an average of 38% of the sessions and averaged 86%. Systematic techniques for identifying the restricted interests of young children with autism also will be presented.Keywords: autism, interventions, repetitive behaviors, restricted interests, social skills, structural analysis
Functional Analysis of Socially Withdrawn Behavior in Children with Autism
JENNIFER A. SELLERS (University of Florida), Jennifer M. Asmus (University of Florida), Maureen Conroy (University of Florida), Elizabeth Weeks (University of Florida), Glenn M. Sloman (University of Florida)
Abstract: There are a wide array of treatments to increase the appropriate social behaviors of children with autism and related disabilities. The majority of these treatments were not selected based on the results of an experimental analysis. The functional analysis methodology (Iwata et al., 1982/1994) has been proven successful in identifying the function for a variety of topographies of behavior (e.g., SIB, aggression, destruction, stereotypy) (Hanley et al., 2003) and for selecting treatments matched to the function of behavior. However, this methodology has not been expanded to the assessment of socially withdrawn behaviors. The purpose of this presentation will be to present the results of functional analysis procedures adapted to the assessment of socially withdrawn and negative behavior for 4 young children with autism. Interobserver agreement was obtained for an average of 32% of the sessions and averaged 89%. A case example will be provided and results will be discussed in relation to the development of function-based interventions for socially withdrawn behavior.Keywords: autism, experimental analysis, functional analysis



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