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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #451
CE Offered: BACB
Teaching Social Skills: Efforts to Improve Conversation, Greeting, and Interview skills
Monday, May 26, 2014
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
W185bc (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: VRB/DEV; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Stephanie A. Hood (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
CE Instructor: Stephanie A Hood, M.S.

Social skills deficits have been associated with academic underachievement, unemployment, and psychopathologies (Bellini, Peters, Benner, & Hopf, 2007; Chadsey-Rusch, Rusch, & O'Reilly, 1991; Howlin & Goode, 1998). Social skills deficits are common among individuals with autism spectrum disorders. This symposium covers teaching young children with autism spectrum disorders to tact interested and uninterested listener behavior and to ask questions or change the topic when someone is uninterested (Peters et al.) and teaching children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders conversation and greeting skills (Hood et al.). In addition, this symposium will cover teaching interview skills to typically developing college students (Stocco et al.). Each of these studies involved variations of behavioral skills training (BST). Stocco et al. used BST plus written reflections and Hood et al. used BST plus textual prompts. The results of these investigations demonstrate the efficacy of these teaching procedures to increase individual's social skills and generalization across novel conversation and greeting partners. Results from social satisfaction ratings suggest these procedures and outcomes are acceptable (Stocco et al.; Hood et al.).

Keyword(s): Social skills

Teaching Children with Autism to Respond to Conversation Partners' Interest

LINDSAY C. PETERS (Confidence Connection, Inc.), Rachel H. Thompson (Western New England University), Sarah W. Holman (Confidence Connection, Inc.), Alexis Herberman (Mason Intervention, Inc.)

Individuals with autism often have difficulty responding to non-vocal social cues such as body language, facial expressions, and gestures within social interactions, such as conversations (Church, Alinsanski, & Amanullah, 2002). Those lacking in social skills may also experience academic and occupational underachievement (Howlin & Goode, 1998) and are at greater risk for anxiety or depression (Kim, Szatmari, Bryson, Streiner, & Wilson, 2000). One such social cue that has received little attention in the literature is an uninterested listener. Using behavioral skills training, we taught children with diagnoses on the autism spectrum between the ages of four and nine to respond appropriately to an uninterested listener. Training included tacting interested and uninterested listener behavior and instruction on the appropriate responses of asking a question (experiments 1 and 2) and changing the topic (experiment 2). When necessary, we taught participants to vary between appropriate responses when extinction was introduced. Results showed behavioral skills training to be an effective means by which to teach children with autism to respond to an uninterested listener.


An Evaluation of the Efficacy and Social Validity of Interview Skills Training for College Students

COREY S. STOCCO (Briar Cliff University), Rachel H. Thompson (Western New England University), John Hart (Western New England University), Katie L. Grill (Briar Cliff University), Heidi L. Soriano (Briar Cliff University)

Recruiters report that interview performance is more influential than background or experience when deciding to hire a candidate (Perry & Goldberg, 1998). Despite the importance of interview performance, there is little behavior analytic research investigating how to improve interview skills. We evaluated the effects and social acceptability of a training model on the interview skills of college students. Individualized target skills (e.g., answers to questions) were identified based on participant reports, expert opinions, and performance during mock interviews. We used a multiple baseline design across skills to sequentially train skills. Training included instructing, modeling, role playing, reflecting (i.e., participants wrote brief summaries of how they performed during role-plays), and feedback. We used pre- and post-training mock interviews to assess the effects of training on interview performance. Mock interviews were based on job advertisements that the participants sent to the experimenter before the start of sessions. Results showed that participants improved on all targeted interview skills and that they were satisfied with the training procedures and outcomes. Additionally, experts consistently gave higher ratings to performance during post-training mock interviews.


An Evaluation of the Efficacy, Generalization, and Social Validity of an Individualized Approach to Teaching Conversation and Greeting Skills

STEPHANIE A. HOOD (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Kevin C. Luczynski (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Daniel R. Mitteer (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder commonly exhibit deficits in social skills, which can lead to poor academic achievement, unemployment, and psychopathologies (Chadsey-Rusch, Rusch, & OReilly, 1991; Bellini, Peters, Benner, & Hopf, 2007). The purpose of our study was to improve conversational and greeting skills during unscripted interactions with a teenager and a child. Selection of the skills was based on direct observation of the teenagers social-skill deficits and caregiver preferences. Initial teaching consisted of behavioral skills training in a trial-based format. Next, teaching continued in a session-based format in which textual prompts were provided following incorrect responses. We assessed the effects of our teaching on stimulus generalization of the social skills across several unfamiliar adults, and we obtained stakeholder responses on the social acceptability of the improvement in social skills. A multiple baseline design across behaviors was used to demonstrate experimental control over the teaching procedures on skill acquisition (Chris and Mike) and stimulus generalization to novel adults (Mike). The teaching procedures lead to acquisition, maintenance, and generalization for all skills. The results provide initial support of an individualized assessment and intervention process for addressing social skills deficits during unscripted conversations and greetings.




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