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 #475
CE Offered: BACB
Social Skills Instruction for Individuals with Autism Across the Lifespan: Leveraging Existing Skills to Build New Ones
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
W184bc (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Amy Kenzer (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center)
CE Instructor: Amy Kenzer, Ph.D.

Social skill instruction is a critical component of intervention for individuals with autism, regardless of age. Early social skills instruction may be focused on responsivity to communicative partners, coordination of eye contact, and basic verbal behavior. As individuals gain complex skills, the instructional methods and targets also increase in complexity; shifting from establishing foundational skills to building meaningful relationships. While individuals with autism may show deficits within the social domain, it may be possible to utilize existing skills to facilitate learning in these critical areas. The first presentation will demonstrate how a young child's orienting to non-social stimuli can be used to increase responding to their name. The second presentation will discuss how embedded social reinforcement can improve coordinated eye contact while manding for non-social stimuli with preschoolers with autism. The third presentation addresses teaching assertiveness, verbal communication, sportsmanship, and displaying positive affect to young adults with autism and their peers during game play.


Using Non-Social Auditory Stimuli to Teach Responding to Name to Children with Autism

AMANDA M. SUMNEY (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center), Rachel McIntosh (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center)

The rate at which infants respond to their name is considered a specific predictor of whether they are later diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Responding to one's name is not only an important social skill, but may pose a safety concern. While children with autism may be unresponsive to their name, they may still respond to auditory stimuli in their environment. In the current study, we examined responding to name with three children with ASD. Non-social auditory stimuli were used to initially gain the child's attention; as the child began to respond to those stimuli, the experimenter called the child's name. Non-social auditory stimuli were systematically faded across successive trials until no stimuli were required. Results suggest that this intervention produced an increase in responding to name in the absence of additional stimuli for all three children.


Using Embedded Social Reinforcement to Increase Vocal Responses with Coordinated Eye Contact in Children with Autism

Brent Seymour (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center), KATELIN HOBSON (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center), Amy Kenzer (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center)

Amongst the many diagnostic indicators and social and communication deficits associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), a lack of eye contact may be the most notable (APA, 2000). A lack of coordinated eye contact may be particularly noticeable when manding for objects as the individual's attention is focused on the desired item rather than the communicative partner mediating access to it. In the current study, we used a multiple baseline across participants with multiple probe design to examine the effects of embedded social reinforcement on manding with coordinated eye contact in three children with autism. Participants were exposed to four social interaction conditions in which the child was manding for desired items the experimenter withheld, desired items in addition to those the child already had, preferred social stimuli, or desired items with embedded social stimuli. During intervention, the participants engaged in preferred activities with objects, while the experimenter provided embedded social reinforcement. Generalization probes were conducted to examine coordinated eye contact when manding for desired items in the absence of social reinforcement or preferred social stimuli in the absence of objects. Results suggest embedded reinforcement increases coordinated eye contact and generalizes to non-social conditions.


Peer-Facilitated Social Skill Training for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders in a College Setting

Christina Whalen (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, Sanford University), Brad Herron (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center), BRENT SEYMOUR (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center), Leasha Barry (University of West Florida)

Eight young adults with ASDs participated in a week-long college experience including dorm move-in, college life skills classes, social activities, tech cohorts with curriculum, homework, projects, presentations, and graduation. The program was co-facilitated by the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center and the University of Advancing Technology. Participants were given pre and post surveys that assessed college readiness. A modified multiple-baseline design was used where peer-facilitated social probes were conducted in ten-minute sessions across baseline, mid, post (return to baseline) and for half the participants, a 2nd baseline session. Probes were conducted with two participants with ASDs and two neuro-typical college peers. Intervention A included two 30-minute feedback sessions between SARRC staff and participants. Intervention B included one 30-minute feedback session between SARRC staff and all neuro-typical peers. Behavioral outcome measures assessed four social skills: affect, sportsmanship, verbal communication, and assertion. All participants improved in at least one of the target areas following Intervention A, and even more progress was seen following Intervention B. Participants also showed increases in their post scores on the college readiness surveys. The importance of priming college experiences for young adults with ASDs and the potential impact on employment and independent living will be discussed.




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