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 #446
Social Responsiveness in Children with Autism: Joint Attention, Over-Generalization of Compliance, and Self-Stimulatory Behavior
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Continental B (1st floor)
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Gerald E. Harris (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project)
Discussant: Gerald E. Harris (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project)
CE Instructor: Gerald E. Harris, Ph.D.
Abstract: Despite a plethora of literature on Applied Behavior Analysis for children with autism, little work has been done to investigate behavioral strategies for addressing social deficits. The presentations in this symposium discuss research projects that contribute to the relatively small evidence base in this area. The first presentation concerns the use of a specific behavioral strategy for increasing joint attention in young children with autism and the effects that increased joint attention skills have on a global measure of social responsiveness. The second presentation discusses an important social and community safety issue. It introduces an experimental study of the tendency for children with autism, who received a compliance-based discrete trial ABA intervention, to over-generalize compliance to strangers. The final presentation addresses self-stimulatory behavior as a social issue, including the relationship between intelligence and adaptive behavior in predicting self-stimulatory behavior.
The Role of Behavior Modification in the Development of Joint Attention in Children with Autism
TREA DRAKE (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project), Gregory Chasson (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project), Jamie Alleyne (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Often considered a key component of social responsiveness, joint attention has been identified as a feature that discriminates children with autism from typically developing children. The development of a procedure to mitigate deficits in joint attention may profoundly alter the aberrant developmental trajectory of those with autism. A review of the literature, however, indicates a paucity of research on potentially effective treatment procedures. The current study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific behavior modification technique in the development of joint attention behaviors in three children with autism. A multiple-baseline design was utilized to demonstrate treatment effects. Data from behavioral tracking, scores on the Early Social Communication Scale, and responses on the Social Responsiveness Scale indicate that the treatment procedure effectively increased each child’s ability to initiate and respond to joint attention bids and also indicate an increase in overall social responsiveness. In addition to maintaining appropriate levels of treatment fidelity, reliability measures were taken on 30% of the sessions with an average inter-rater reliability of 85%.
Over-Generalization of Compliance to Strangers in Young Children with Autism
FRANK B. CARLE (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project), Sanjuanita Pedraza (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project), Latrelle Rogers (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: While teaching compliance to children with autism is often considered beneficial for increasing overall social functioning, the current investigation examined the potential harmful effects of over-generalizing compliance. This study focused on how children with autism respond to unfamiliar people in their environment. The study incorporated 3 different matched groups of participants. Group 1 was comprised of 6 children with autism who received a discrete trial ABA treatment package incorporating strict compliance procedures. Group 2 consisted of 6 children with autism, but they received a non-discrete trial ABA treatment that was less stringent on compliance. Group 3 was included as a comparison group of 6 typically developing children. The study included two experimental conditions; each consisted of a participant child being approached and directed by a confederate stranger in a crowded toy store. The within-subject factor consisted of whether or not the stranger enticed the child using candy. It was predicted, and supported by preliminary data, that children who receive compliance-focused treatment will become likely to over-generalize learned responses to strangers. These findings illustrate the need to incorporate appropriate discrimination training into compliance procedures. Implications of over-generalized compliance within the context of teaching social responsiveness are discussed.
The Relationship Between Adaptive Behavior and Intelligence in Predicting Self-Stimulatory Behavior in Children with Autism
ALLISON SERRA TETREAULT (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project), Lauren Harrington (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project), Gregory Chasson (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (University of Houston, Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Addressing self-stimulatory behavior in children with autism is a priority when devising treatment plans that target deficits in social responsiveness. The current investigation examined the relationship between self-stimulatory behavior, adaptive behavior, and intelligence in 64 children with autism aged 2 to 10. Self-stimulatory behavior was assessed using an index derived from multiple items on The Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), adaptive behavior was measured with the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, and intelligence was measured with the Merrill-Palmer Scales of Mental Development. The items designated as self-stimulatory behavior on CARS were chosen a priori in conjunction with the criteria for the diagnosis of Autistic Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition Revised. Using Multiple Regression, preliminary analyses indicate that adaptive behavior and intelligence significantly predict self-stimulatory behavior. Furthermore, evidence also reveals a significant interaction between adaptive behavior and intelligence in the prediction of self-stimulatory behavior. Implications of this study are discussed, including the applications of the results and the relation between the three variables to overall social responsiveness.



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