|Motivational Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome
|Sunday, May 25, 2008
|9:00 AM–10:20 AM
|Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
|Chair: Christie Enjey Lin (University of California, Santa Barbara)
|Discussant: Ty Vernon (University of California, Santa Barbara)
|Abstract: This symposium describes three empirical studies that combine behavioral principles with motivational techniques to target the symptoms of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in individuals ranging from young children to early adulthood. The first study describes a method for increasing social behaviors in toddlers using embedded social reinforcement. Using an ABAB research design, this study demonstrated that language opportunities with embedded social reinforcement led to increased levels of specific social behaviors in three participants in comparison to language opportunities without embedded social reinforcement. The second study describes a self-management system for increasing flexibility in higher-functioning children. A non-concurrent multiple baseline across participants design was implemented, and results demonstrated that self-management increased flexibility and generalized to a variety of activities. The final study used a multiple baseline design to examine if individuals with ASD could be taught to serve as social facilitators for children in a summer camp setting. Data indicate that participants were able to improve on the number/type of initiations made towards the children, time spent on appropriate on-task behavior, and positive child responses. Data was comparable to typically developing camp counselors. Implications of using motivational techniques across the lifespan of individuals with ASD are discussed.
|Improving Social Engagement in Young Children with Autism using Embedded Social Reinforcement.
|TY VERNON (University of California, Santa Barbara), Robert L. Koegel (University of California, Santa Barbara), Lynn Kern Koegel (University of California, Santa Barbara)
|Abstract: Social deficits are one of the primary characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, and these impairments manifest as low levels of social engagement, decrease levels of coordinated eye contact behaviors, and a restricted affective range. Recent research on naturalistic interventions has demonstrated that using a direct response-reinforcer relationship in learning tasks increases the target child’s motivation and rate of learning and this suggests that embedding direct social reinforcement into the language opportunities might improve social behavior. Using an ABAB research design, this study examined whether the use of language opportunities with embedded social reinforcement would lead to increased levels of specific social behaviors (social engagement, dyadic orienting, and child affect) in three young children with autism in comparison to language opportunities without embedded social reinforcement. Results indicate that each child exhibited increased levels of all three social measures in the embedded social condition. These findings indicate that the use of opportunities that incorporate these strategies may be a method for targeting persistent social impairments. Theoretical and applied implications and future directions are discussed.
|Targeting Restricted Interests and Repetitive Behaviors by Increasing Flexibility in Children with Autism and Asperger’s Disorder.
|CHRISTIE ENJEY LIN (University of California, Santa Barbara), Robert L. Koegel (University of California, Santa Barbara), Lynn Kern Koegel (University of California, Santa Barbara)
|Abstract: The category of restricted interests and repetitive patterns of behaviors (RIRB) is one of the core diagnostic features of autism and Asperger’s Disorder. These symptoms have been described as a heterogeneous group of behaviors that are ritualistic, invariant and developmentally/socially inappropriate. Despite the variety of RIRB observed across individuals with autism, there appears to be a common underlying thread of inflexibility. RIRB is a significant concern because of the pervasiveness of these symptoms, coinciding disruptive behaviors and research demonstrating less improvement in this area compared to social and communication domains. RIRB has implications for the quality of life of the individual and family. Research indicates that self-management is an effective behavioral intervention to target improvement in a variety of behaviors. This study investigated the implementation of a self-management program to target RIRB by increasing “flexibility.” For this study, flexibility was defined as appropriately varying or adapting behaviors when presented with an opportunity to disengage from a RIRB without displaying disruptive behaviors and continuing to engage in the activity at hand. A non-concurrent multiple baseline across participants research design was implemented. Results demonstrated that self-management increased flexibility and was generalized to a variety of settings and activities.
|Teaching Adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism to Serve as Social Facilitators in a Summer Camp Setting.
|WHITNEY ANN ENCE (University of California, Santa Barbara), Robert L. Koegel (University of California, Santa Barbara), Ty Vernon (University of California, Santa Barbara), Lynn Kern Koegel (University of California, Santa Barbara)
|Abstract: As autism intervention research continues to evolve, individuals with ASD continue to make tremendous strides in terms of autonomous functioning. Of particular concern and a growing area of research is the development of effective vocational training programs for this population. While the ability to work to support oneself is an important keystone for functioning independently, arguably of equal importance is the ability to have a job which one views as satisfying and a means for contributing meaningfully to society. The purpose of this study was to examine if adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism could be trained to work as social facilitators. Using a multiple baseline design, individuals with ASD were trained to lead typical children in a summer camp setting. Data were taken on the number and types of initiations the participants made towards the children, time spent on appropriate on-task behavior, and number of initiations the children made towards the participants. The ability for individuals with social disorders to effectively serve as social facilitators of typically developing children has important implications for the social growth of all the involved parties, but also a challenge to the limited types of employment deemed appropriate for this population.