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 #432
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in Play Acquisition Research
Monday, May 27, 2019
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency West, Ballroom Level, Regency Ballroom A
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Azure Pellegrino (University of Kansas)
Discussant: Ruth M. DeBar (Mrs.)
CE Instructor: Azure Pellegrino, Ph.D.
Abstract: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often display deficits in the area of play skills, which impacts their development throughout childhood. Previous research has identified several interventions that improve the quantity and quality of play within this population. This symposium includes four studies that extend the research on effective interventions to promote play in children with ASD. The first presentation will share the results of a study on increasing the sociodramatic play behavior of young children with ASD with their typically developing peers using group activity schedules. The second presentation will summarize findings of a study on increasing appropriate behavior in children with ASD and typically developing children using a wearable activity schedule. The third presentation will describe a study that compared developmentally-matched and age-matched play targets on play skill acquisition and generalization in children with ASD. The fourth presentation will share the findings of a study on increasing multi-exchange conversations in children with autism using text-message prompts. The symposium will conclude with discussant remarks from Dr. Ruth DeBar.
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Activity Schedule, Autism, Developmental, Play
Target Audience: Researchers, practitioners, and students interested in increasing play skills in children with disabilities.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the symposium, participants will be able to: (1) describe the importance of targeting play within skill acquisition; (2) identify and describe a research-supported play acquisition intervention; and (3) describe the different types of play behavior a play acquisition intervention can increase.

Promoting Sociodramatic Play Between Children With Autism and Their Typically Developing Peers Using Activity Schedules

AZURE PELLEGRINO (University of Kansas), Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University), Lorraine A Becerra (Utah State University), Lyndsay Nix (Utah State University; ASSERT Autism Program), Katelin Hobson (University of Washington), Kassidy Reinert (Utah State University; ASSERT Autism Program)

An activity schedule is a set of words or pictures that cue an individual to complete a series of steps (McClannahan & Krantz, 2010). Previous research has demonstrated the utility of activity schedules in promoting independent play and social game play in children with ASD; however, promoting more dynamic social play in children with ASD using this technology has yet to be investigated. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of teaching the use of activity schedules with embedded scripts on the sociodramatic play of preschoolers with ASD with their typically developing peers. We also examined the extent to which we could remove scripts and schedule components while continuing to observe sociodramatic play. Two participants with ASD quickly demonstrated high levels of sociodramatic play with their typically developing peers compared to baseline, and an additional participant with ASD demonstrated similar increases with procedural modifications. All three participants continued to engage in sociodramatic play after all scripts and nearly all components of the activity schedules were systematically removed, including during follow-up sessions. In addition, all participants engaged in additional unscheduled yet contextually appropriate social play behaviors.

Evaluation of a Wearable Activity Schedule for Promoting Independent Skills in Young Children
KATHERINE HAGGERTY (Florida Institute of Technology), Basak Topcuoglu (Florida Institute of Technology), Corina Jimenez-Gomez (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment, Florida Institute of Technology), Nicole Adriaenssens (Florida Institute of Technology), Kayce Nagel (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Activity schedules are a series of visual cues, which function as prompts for the completion behavior chains. These typically are arranged in booklets or binders that the individual can check to manage their own behaviors. Although activity schedules are useful, their typical presentation format in binders can be cumbersome and stigmatizing, placing additional barriers for independence and inclusion in less restrictive environments. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of a wearable activity schedule and determine whether prompts provided by it would be sufficient to support completion of a complex chain of behaviors by young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In Experiment 1, the Octopus watch provided prompts to typically developing children to complete a morning routine independently. In Experiment 2, the usefulness of the watch was evaluated in children with ASD engaging in play activities in a clinical setting. In both experiments, children reliably engaged in greater proportion of independent engagement in target behaviors when prompts were delivered by the watch compared to behavior under control conditions.

Effects of Development-Matched and Age-Matched Targets on Play Skills of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

HEATHER PANE (Caldwell University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell University), April N. Kisamore (Hunter College), Anjalee Nirgudkar (Behavior Analysts of NJ, LLC)

Play is thought to be an important part of human development. Although children of typical development spend the majority of their time engaged in play activities, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often present with substantial delays in the development of play. This study compared the acquisition of play skills using play targets that were development-matched (DM) compared to play targets that were age-matched (AM), determined from the results of the Developmental Play Assessment (DPA; Lifter, Edwards, Avery, Anderson, & Sulzer-Azaroff, 1988). The primary intervention was in vivo modeling. The dependent variables included play actions and vocalizations. Generalization was programmed for by teaching to three sets of toys for both the DM condition and the AM condition. In addition, a preference assessment was conducted before, during, and after the intervention to assess participant preference for the toys used in the study. Social validity measures were conducted to assess the goals, procedures, and outcome of the study. The participants demonstrated acquisition with the DM play targets and not the AM play targets. In addition, participants engaged in scripted actions during generalization probes (with novel toys) and during independent probes (experimenter not sitting with participant) in the DM condition. Last, participants maintained the play targets in the DM condition.


Teaching Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder to Engage in Reciprocal Conversations Using Text-Message Prompting

VIDA CANESTARO (Baylor University ), Jessica Akers (Baylor University)

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have difficulties initiating and sustaining conversations. Although there are several established interventions which target initiations and responses to questions or comments made by others, there are fewer interventions which target sustaining conversations with multiple exchanges. A review of the literature revealed a variety of methodologies to teach individuals to engage in a multi-exchange conversation. The use of text messaging technology creates an electronic script that is portable, more socially acceptable compared to printed script, and creates a flexible means of prompting within a fast-paced changing social environment. The purpose of the current study is to replicate and extend the findings of Grosberg and Charlop (2017) by ensuring the researcher is not visible to the participants during any of the research sessions. In addition, we have included a pre-measure to better identify appropriate conversation partners and collect data on the conversation partner as well as the participant’s responding during sessions.




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