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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #100
CE Offered: BACB
Supporting Social Interactions for Children With Developmental Disabilities and Their Peers
Saturday, May 25, 2019
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency West, Ballroom Level, Regency Ballroom A
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Tracy Jane Raulston (Penn State)
Discussant: Russell Lang (Texas State University-San Marcos)
CE Instructor: Tracy Jane Raulston, Ph.D.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities are likely to experience difficulties socially interacting with their peers during natural routines, including play times at school or home. Additionally, children with developmental disabilities may have difficulty forming friendships or report lower quality of friendships as well as increased loneliness, peer rejection, or bullying. Social behavior and social play are important areas of child development and may require explicit intervention procedures and supports. This symposium is comprised of four presentations of original datasets. Each study evaluated an intervention to increase social skills between children with ASD or other developmental disabilities and their typically-developing peers. The interventions targeted social skills including responding to peer bids for joint attention, taking turns during imaginary play activities, recess skills, and taking game turns during playdates. Intervention components consisted of environmental arrangement, prompting, reinforcement, use of video scene displays in an augmentative and alternative communication device (AAC), and direct instruction (DI). Key takeaways are that children and their peers may require systematic teaching procedures in natural environments in order to fully benefit during social routines.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): "play interventions", "social skills", "young children"
Target Audience:

This event is appropriate for practitioners and researchers working in classrooms or homes of children with developmental disabilities.

Peer Mediated Early Social Skill Intervention in an Inclusive Preschool Classroom
SARAH GRACE HANSEN (Georgia State University), Amarie Carnett (University of Texas at San Antonio), Megan Mowbray (Georgia State), Christopher A. Tullis (Georgia State University)
Abstract: Joint attention, or shared attention of two individuals on an object or event, is a pivotal social communication skill that develops in most children before their second birthday. Response to (i.e., following someone’s point) and initiation of (i.e., pointing out an object or event) joint attention are considered pivotal skills for later social communication skill acquisition. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may not develop these skills without targeted intervention, and may not demonstrate mastery of these skills even by preschool. For this reason, involving peers in intervention on these skills may allow for greater support in the natural environment. The current study extends findings of a peer mediated joint attention intervention targeting response to joint attention skill in preschool settings using peer training and interventionist mediated priming sessions. Results indicated peer bids and target child responses both increased following intervention. The current study extended the work of Hansen and colleagues by implementing the intervention in inclusive preschool classrooms, teaching both initiation and response to joint attention skills to the target child, and removing interventionist mediated priming sessions. Results indicated increase in peer bids, target child response, target child bids and subsequent peer response in a multiple baseline design across behaviors embedded in a multiple baseline design across participants. Implications and opportunities for future research are discussed.
Effects of a Mobile App on Communication During Interactive Play in Autism: A Pilot Study
EMILY LAUBSCHER (Penn State), Janice Light (Penn State), David McNaughton (Penn State )
Abstract: In early childhood, interactive pretend play with peers provides an important context for development of social communication skills that tend to be challenging for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children with ASD and limited speech are at risk for exclusion from pretend play due to difficulties with both acquisition of symbolic play behaviors and expressive communication during play; as such, they often miss out on the very play experiences that would allow them to observe and practice the skills they lack. Several existing interventions have successfully targeted both play behaviors and communication during pretend play for children with ASD, but few have provided adequate expressive communication supports for nonverbal children. To address this gap, the current pilot study uses a multiple probe design across activities to examine the effect of an innovative AAC approach, the use of video visual scene displays (video VSDs), on communication and play skills for one child with ASD and limited speech during pretend play with a typically developing peer. Results showed an increase in frequency of communicative turns for the participant with ASD, suggesting that video VSDs may be promising tools for supporting social communication during play for nonverbal children with ASD.
A Direct Instruction Treatment Package Approach to Teaching Playground Rules and Expectations
SLOAN STORIE (University of Oregon), Allaina Douglas (University of Oregon ), Andrew Bulla (Armstrong State University ), Wendy A. Machalicek (University of Oregon)
Abstract: The playground is one of the most unstructured times during the school day (Colvin & Lowe, 1986). Playground time can be especially difficult for students with disabilities due to a lack of social skills and training (Nabors, Willoughby, Leff, & McMenamin, 2001). One approach that teaches skills and concepts to generalize to new situations is direct instruction ([DI] Carnine, 1994). This study used a DI treatment package to examine social skills of students with and without disabilities on the playground. Participants consisted of two typically developing Kindergarteners and a Preschooler with a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, and developmental disabilities. The effects of this intervention were examined with two single-subject designs. A withdrawal design was used to determine if a functional relation existed between a DI lesson on “Be Kind” and scheduled feedback on student’s demonstration of inviting their classmates to play and sharing their space and materials. A multiple-baseline design was used to identify if there was a functional relation between the DI lesson “Be On Time” and practice sessions on each student’s demonstration of cleaning up and lining up right away. Although functional relations were not demonstrated, authors identified interesting patterns to consider when implementing the playground treatment package.

Coaching Parents of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder to Embed Social Skills Instruction During Playdates

TRACY JANE RAULSTON (Penn State), Sarah Grace Hansen (Georgia State University), Rebecca Frantz (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Wendy A. Machalicek (University of Oregon), Naima Bhana (The Pennsylvania State University)

Children need opportunities to practice social skills outside of school, and a common means for this is through playdates. There are few studies examining methods to teach children with ASD social skills during playdates and have included children with advanced language skills, such as the ability to ask questions to peers. In the current study, we examined a parent-implemented packaged intervention aimed at embedding instruction in early social skills during playdates in the home of the child with ASD. A concurrent multiple-probe across parent-child-peer triads single-case design was employed. Data were collected on parent treatment fidelity and frequency of child and peer mands (e.g., requesting a turn) and child and peer responses to mands (e.g., passing the game die). During the coaching phase, parents were taught the steps of the packaged intervention, which included a social narrative, activity schedule, environmental arrangement, prompting, and reinforcement strategies. Parents were taught to embed social skills instruction within the context of game play. During baseline, low levels of treatment fidelity, child, and peer behaviors were observed for all three triads. Upon implementation of coaching, an immediate increase in level of independent correct steps of treatment fidelity was observed for triads one and two. An immediate increase in level and trend was observed for child behavior and peer behavior for triad one. An immediate increase in level and trend was observed for child behavior and peer responses, with moderate changes observed for peer mands for triad two. A small change in level was observed for parent, child, and peer behaviors in triad three. Due to emergence of child challenging behavior and a decreasing trend in target behaviors for triad three, a procedural modification was employed. Following the procedural modification, an immediate increase in level was observed in parent treatment fidelity, and moderate changes in level for child mands and peer behaviors were observed. This pilot study suggests that training parents of children with ASD to implement evidence-based strategies with their child and a peer may be an effective means to support early social skills, but that child challenging behavior and communication needs may affect outcomes.




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