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 #540
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
ABA Specialty Social Skills Training for Children with Autism
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
North 122 BC
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Discussant: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Addressing deficits in the social functioning of children with autism is a wide-ranging and complex area. The complexities and subtleties of social interactions often require more exactness and forethought in the application of ABA procedures. While much success in using ABA techniques to improve social skills has been reported, there are many social skill areas not yet fully addressed or even considered. This symposium presents data and new information on procedures used within an ABA Treatment Center for young children with autism to extend and improve their social functioning. The first presentation focuses on teaching assistance seeking behaviors and generalizing them to natural safety situations (separation form caretakers) in the community. The second presentation, again a safety consideration, looks at teaching children with autism to respond appropriately to police officers in the community. The third presentation offers data on the use of an emotional coding system, using specific facial cues, which can help in teaching children with autism to understand and express emotional subtleties more effectively. Data on differences in facial expression by typically developing and children with autism are presented. Together, these three studies extend our knowledge of, and ability to modify, the social skills of children with autism.
Teaching Young Children with Autism to Seek Assistance When Lost
KRISTEN SALINAS (Texas Young Autism Project), Maureen Childs (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Ninety percent of families will experience the loss of a child within a public place at some time(Sedlak, et. al. 2002). Children with autism are more likely to become lost or wander away from caregivers (Debault, 2001). Establishing an effective strategy to teach children with autism how to seek assistance when lost is a critical area of community safety. Taylor, et. al. (2004) using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, successfully taught three teenagers with Autism to seek assistance when lost. The current study extends this research to young children with autism. Participants were 3 children, age 7 to 9 years, receiving ABA treatment at the Texas Young Autism Project. All participants demonstrated a lack of assistance seeking behaviors at baseline. Participants were cued by a remote device to follow a task analysis of assistance seeking behaviors. Students were first taught the behavioral sequence in a classroom simulation, and then skills were generalized to the natural environment. Resulting data from the current study demonstrate that using the principles of ABA, young children with autism can be taught to seek assistance when lost. This study has practical applications in the treatment of Autism, as well as other developmental disorders.
Teaching Children with Autism to Respond to Police
JOHN SALINAS (Texas Young Autism Project), Maureen Childs (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: According to the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) people with autism are seven times more likely to come into contact with police in the United States (Debbauldt, 2001). Responding to novel people can be challenging for many children with autism, making it difficult for an authority figure to obtain identifying information from such a child should they become lost. These children may have a decrease in responding without assistance (Dunlap et al 1987). A multiple baseline across subjects design was utilized to evaluate if children with autism could answer basic questions in novel situations absent a trained treatment provider. Three children with autism participated who were receiving ABA services at the Texas Young Autism Project. At baseline participants did not respond to police questioning of previously mastered targets such as name and address. The children were then systematically trained to respond to nonvocal stimuli associated with a police officer. For one subject, additional training was needed for generalization to occur. The results of the study demonstrated that using ABA training procedures, a novel authority figure was able to gain responses to simple conversation questions from a child with autism.
A Comparison of Affective Expression Coding between Autistic and Typically Developing Children
ALEXIS WASHMON (Texas Young Autism Project), Trea Drake (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Understanding and expressing emotion through facial cues is a prominent characteristic of effective social communication, and is often deficit in children with autism. Using ABA procedures to teach such social communication depends on adequately operationally defining emotional constructs. This study expanded on a previous study targeting the identification of overt facial characteristics (e.g., brow and nose movement) indicative of seven emotional states displayed by typically developing children. Treatment staff was trained to adequately code overt facial characteristics utilizing the techniques of written description, practice with visual media, and performance feedback. The current study focused on comparing the reliability obtained when coding for autistic versus typically developing children. Overall, agreement between observers was above 80% for both populations, indicating a good ability to use those specific cues to code intensity of affect. These findings indicate that the affective expression coding system can be effectively implemented in a treatment center for children with autism. Using this coding system to operationalize nonverbal communication target behaviors and develop intervention procedures to promote affective communication in children with autism has the potential to greatly improve their social outcome.



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