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 #289
CE Offered: BACB
The Changing Role of Social Skills Groups for Learners with Autism from Childhood to College
Sunday, May 24, 2009
4:00 PM–5:20 PM
North 124 B
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Daniel Adam Openden (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC)
Discussant: Daniel Adam Openden (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC)
CE Instructor: Rebecca MacDonald, Ph.D.
Abstract: In the past decade the success of social skills groups for learners with autism has resulted in an increasing popularity with parents, educators, and researchers alike. While early research described groups primarily with younger children, their popularity has promoted the development of groups of varying ages. The question remains, however, “How do these groups change as children get older?” This symposium will address the developmental trajectory of social skills groups for learners with autism from childhood to college. Specifically, these three presentations will demonstrate how groups differ with respect to structure, goals, and content. In the first presentation, Mr. Vernon will describe his multiple baseline design study showing how the introduction of personally motivating extracurricular group activities resulted in increased social engagement and initiations with peers. Next, Mr. Dotson will describe the design of and procedures used in his recent groups with adolescents focusing on strategies for generalization and maintenance of social engagement. Dr. Jones will follow describing his groups with college students concentrating on assessment, curriculum, and group structure. Taken together, this symposium forms a compelling demonstration of the initial steps in developing a scope and sequence of the changing role of social skills groups for learners with autism.
Using Social Clubs to Increase Engagement between Children with Asperger’s/HFA and their Typical Peers
Lynn Kern Koegel (University of California, Santa Barbara), TY VERNON (University of California, Santa Barbara), Robert L. Koegel (University of California, Santa Barbara), Brittany Koegel (University of California Santa Barbara), Annie Paullen (University of California Santa Barbara)
Abstract: Children with Asperger’s Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism tend to exhibit relatively high levels of communicative and cognitive competence, but continue to show evidence of difficulties with the motivation and/or skills to socialize. As a consequence, these populations often avoid social encounters with peers that serve as important learning opportunities to build social competence. The purpose of this study was to assess if developing a lunch-time social club built around the preferred interests of the participants would improve socialization between children with Asperger’s/HFA and their typically developing peers. Participants were three children with ASD who consistently spent their free-periods in isolation and made no attempt to engage with peers. Using a multiple baseline design, this study demonstrated that the introduction of a motivating extracurricular activity that incorporated mutually reinforcing activities was effective in increasing dependent measures related to the target children’s social engagement and initiations towards peers. The theoretical and applied implications are discussed as they relate to social motivation and development.
Designing a Social Skills Group for Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: Promoting Generalization and Engagement
WESLEY H DOTSON (University of Kansas), Justin B. Leaf (University of Kansas), Jaime Kohlmeyer (University of Kansas), Kaitlyn Bilovesky (University of Kansas), Jan B. Sheldon (University of Kansas), James A. Sherman (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Adolescents with autism often struggle to develop positive social relationships with peers. One approach to helping adolescents build such relationships involves directly teaching social skills relevant to getting along with and engaging in common activities with peers. Prior research suggests that while direct instruction in social skills can result in learning, there often is limited generalization of skills taught from the teaching environment to more naturalistic situations. This presentation will describe the design of and procedures used within a social skills group for higher-functioning adolescents with autism to increase the likelihood of generalization of the social skills taught and to maintain participant motivation to remain in the group. Some examples of procedures and design elements to be described include: teaching skills in group contexts, using role plays as teaching tools, offering naturalistic opportunities to socialize with peers, providing choices about activities and reinforcers, and building knowledge of age and peer-appropriate activities and interests. Data from previous and current groups will be presented.
The College Social Skills Club: Why “fitting in” has Never Been So Important.
CHRISTOPHER JONES (University of Puget Sound), Melanie Arthur (University of Puget Sound), Ivey West (University of Puget Sound)
Abstract: Social skill deficits are often described as the key to understanding the true nature of autism. As research has progressed in this area, educators are becoming more skilled at teaching to these deficits. Unfortunately, one area that has seen little attention from educators and researchers is the social issues of college students with autism. Up until recently this population of students was relatively unheard of. However, with early childhood ABA interventions now reliably being used with children with autism for more than 20 years, we are seeing a greater increase of students with autism attending colleges and universities. This presentation will look at the changing role of social skills groups for four college students with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism. The social issues facing these students are qualitatively different from those of children in the public education system. Consequently, the role of assessment procedures, curriculum development, and group time structure will be described. Preliminary assessment and outcome data will be presented though the focus will remain descriptive in nature.



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