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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #174
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Assessment and Treatment of Social Deficits in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Sunday, May 30, 2010
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
206AB (CC)
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Nathan A. Call (Marcus Autism Center)
Discussant: Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
CE Instructor: Robert Putnam, Ph.D.
Abstract: Deficits in social interactions are one of the central characteristics of an autism diagnosis. As such, understanding the variables that can influence social interactions and the best methods for increasing them is an important topic for behavior analysts who work with individuals with autism. This symposium will present three studies that focus on using behavior analytic approaches to identify social reinforcers, measure deficits in social interactions, or remediate them.
Identifying Social Reinforcers and Utilizing Them for Teaching Interaction in Children and Teenagers With ASDs
DELNA H BHARUCHA (New England Center for Children), Catia Cividini-Motta Cividini (New England Center for Children), Merideth C. Phelps (New England Center for Children), Kathleen M Clark (New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: It has been noted that persons with autism have deficits in social behavior. The purpose of this study was to determine whether social reinforcers could be identified for children and teenagers diagnosed with autism and to determine whether these social reinforcers could be used to teach brief social interactions. There were six participants in this study, three children and three teenagers, diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. There were two primary phases in this study: 1) Reinforcer Assessment, in which a multiple schedule was arranged to determine the reinforcing efficacy of 3 common social consequences for an arbitrary response; and, 2) Social Interaction Training, in which key joint attention responses crucial to social interaction were assessed and deficiencies in responding were remediated with prompting combined with social reinforcement. The results of the study suggested that social reinforcers can be identified using a multiple schedule and that these reinforcers, when combined with prompting can be successfully applied to teaching joint attention responses in young children and teenagers. We also assessed whether these results generalized to the natural environment for some of the participants. These data will also be discussed.
Preferences for Social Attention in Children With Autism: A Functional Taxonomy
NATHAN A. CALL (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center), Crystal N. Bowen (Marcus Autism Center), Addie Jane Findley (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Impairments in social interactions are one of the core behavioral manifestations required for a diagnosis of autism. However, there is significant heterogeneity across individuals with respect to the degree and quality of impairments in their social interactions. One way to sub-categorize individuals with autism may be to measure the extent to which social interactions function as a reinforcer. Previous attempts to categorize individuals with autism based on social behavior have relied on caregiver report (Castelloe & Dawson, 1993). The current study attempted to measure the extent to which attention did or did not function as a reinforcer for three children with autism using observable behavior. Participants were exposed to a series of concurrent operant conditions in which they could either interact with a novel therapist or avoid social interaction. The response effort required to maintain access to or avoid attention increased in subsequent conditions. Participants were grouped into categories based on their preferences for attention and the level of effort expended to maintain access to or avoid attention. Patterns in choice responding were categorized into aloof, passive, and active subtypes, and were correlated with outcomes of intensive behavioral intervention for other skill deficits characteristic of autism, such as language.
Teaching Children With Autism to Engage in Social Initiations Using PECS
AMBER R. PADEN (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Tiffany Kodak (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Me), Wayne Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Elizabeth M. Gawley (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Kelly J. Bouxsein (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Carissa M. Nohr (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Abstract: Increasing social initiations is often a high-priority treatment goal when educating children with autism. Previous research as demonstrated the utility of a scripts (e.g. Krantz & McClannahan, 1998; Petursdottir, McComas, & McMaster, 2007), tactile prompts (Shabani et al., 2002), and activity schedules for increasing social interactions with individuals with ASD (e.g. Betz, Higbee, & Reagon, 2008; Krantz & McClannahan, 1998). A number of individuals with ASD do not have vocal verbal behavior and communicate using a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). It remains unclear whether children who use PECS will use this form of communication to initiate interactions with their peers. The current study examined the use of PECS to increase social initiations between two children diagnosed with autism. An ABAB reversal within a multiple baseline across subjects was used to evaluate the effects of treatment on social initiations with peers. Results indicated that the participants independently initiated social interactions by exchanging PECS cards with peers.



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