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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #179
CE Offered: BACB
Navigating the Social World: Innovations in Social Skills Treatment for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, May 30, 2016
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Columbus Hall IJ, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)
Discussant: Russell Lang (Texas State University-San Marcos)
CE Instructor: Marjorie H. Charlop, Ph.D.

For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), having severe deficits in social skills prevent them from functioning in typical situations and properly navigating the social world in which we live. This symposium will consist of four research studies that use innovative behavioral approaches to address some of the pervasive challenges children with ASD face. In the first study, researchers use video modeling to teach children with ASD how to assertively respond to different bullying situations. The second study uses theatre-play as a method to teach appropriate social skills behaviors to dyads of children with ASD. The third study focuses on the need to reduce vocal stereotypy and aims to decrease inappropriate vocalizations by replacing them with appropriate singing. Finally, the last study provides a spin on teaching joint attention to lower functioning children with ASD. In these studies, multiple baseline designs were used to analyze treatment effects, generalization was assessed, and inter-observer reliability was calculated. These four studies provide new ideas to ameliorate the social challenges that children with ASD display, provide evidence-based procedures for treating a range of functioning levels of children on the spectrum, and provide potential approaches for children with ASD to navigate their social world.

Keyword(s): autism, bullying, play, social skills

Using Video Modeling to Teach Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Assertive Responding to Bullying Scenarios

Catherine Rex (Claremont McKenna College), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College), VICKI SPECTOR (Claremont Graduate University)

Bullying is related to depression, loneliness, and social anxiety (Hawker & Boulton, 2000), and unfortunately, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at a higher risk than their typically developing peers for becoming victims of bullying (Wainscot et al., 2008). The current study involved a video modeling intervention that aimed to teach six children with ASD how to assertively respond to physical and verbal bullying, social exclusion, and to report instances of bullying to a parent. Using a multiple baseline design, measures of appropriate responding to bullying were assessed in baseline, intervention, and generalization probes. During baseline sessions, participants appropriate responses to bullying were either nonexistent or inconsistent. Following baseline, participants were asked to watch a video of an adult assertively responding to three different types of bullying (i.e., physical bullying, verbal bullying, and social exclusion). Results showed that following the introduction of video modeling, all six participants met criterion for appropriate responding to bullying, with four participants demonstrating generalization of learned skills to a novel setting. Findings from this study have implications for the use of video modeling in teaching children with ASD the proper skills to respond to bullying.


Using Theatre-Play to Teach Social Skills to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Melisa Rojas (Pomona College), NATALY LIM (Claremont McKenna College), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)

Theatre-based programs have been shown to improve the social skills in high-functioning children with ASD, such as increased positive interaction, decreased solitary play (Guli, Semrud-Clikeman, Lerner, & Britton, 2013) and increased social perception (Corbett et al., 2011). The present study was conducted to teach social skills behaviors to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) via a theatre intervention conducted in dyads. Specifically, a multiple baseline design across three dyads of children with ASD was used to assess the efficacy of a theatre intervention on increasing verbal social skills, nonverbal social skills, and appropriate sociodramatic play behaviors. Measurements of social skills behaviors were taken during naturalistic play sessions and baseline, as well as after theatre intervention sessions. The theatre intervention involved sessions of learning how to act out and also do improvisation of theme-based plays in dyadic pairs for several weeks. Results showed that all participants reached at least 80% criterion performance for one or more targeted social behaviors. The current study demonstrates that a theatre-based procedure, a largely untapped therapeutic technique, is an effective social skills intervention for children with ASD.


Effects of Singing on Vocal Stereotypies in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

BENJAMIN R. THOMAS (Claremont Graduate University), Catelyn Gumaer (Claremont Graduate University), Nataly Lim (Claremont McKenna College), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)

Vocal stereotypy can be disruptive and interfere with social opportunities; yet, it is often a preferred activity for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Decreasing motivating operations to engage in inappropriate forms of the behavior (e.g., sounds, high pitched speaking or singing) while increasing topographically similar appropriate behaviors might be an indicated course of treatment. In this study, we taught three children with ASD who engaged in inappropriate forms of vocal stereotypy to sing appropriately. We used a changing criterion design plus a backward chaining procedure to increase the word length of their singing phrases. After the children learned to sing a song through this procedure, we used multi-element comparisons to determine if pre-session singing sessions would decrease vocal stereotypy in their subsequent intervention sessions. Preliminary results showed that participants learned to sing appropriately, and all forms of vocal stereotypy occurred less frequently immediately after singing sessions. Discussion will focus on implications for teaching pro-social vocal behaviors as replacements for vocal stereotypies.


Joint Attention in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Using Play and the Natural Language Paradigm

Taylor Basso (Claremont McKenna College), CATELYN GUMAER (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)

A key deficit in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is underdeveloped joint attention skills. Joint attention is a pivotal social communication skill that is very complex and can be difficult to teach in isolation. It may behoove us to find other ways in which joint attention might be easier to teach. In Experiment I, basic functional play was taught to three children with ASD through imitation, with joint attention embedded within the procedure. Reinforcement was contingent on joint attention during the play imitation sessions, compared to baseline in which joint attention without play was reinforced. The results demonstrated that play-based treatment can increase joint attention and that generalization of joint attention across person and setting occurred. In Experiment II, the Natural Language Paradigm (NLP; Laski, Charlop, & Schreibman, 1988), which has been shown to increase both speech and play (Gillett & LeBlanc, 2007), will be assessed to determine whether NLP can also generate and increase joint attention in children with ASD. Together, the results of these studies may hold implications for alternative ways for teaching joint attention via procedures that evoke motivating operations.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh