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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #296
CE Offered: BACB
Assessment and Treatment of Adults Diagnosed With ASD or Related Behaviors
Monday, May 28, 2012
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
302 (TCC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Amanda Karsten (Western New England University)
Discussant: Linda A. LeBlanc (Auburn University)
CE Instructor: Amanda Karsten, Ph.D.

Adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or related deficits face unique challenges as they transition to higher education and the workplace. The purpose of this symposium is to present results from a recent literature review and 2 experimental studies on the assessment and treatment of adults with ASD or related behaviors (i.e., organizational skills, relationship skills, conversation skills, and on-the-job performance).

Keyword(s): Adults, ASD, Employment, Social Skills

Meeting the Social Needs of Young Adults With High Functioning Autism: A Review of the Literature

APRIL N. KISAMORE (Western New England University), Amanda Karsten (Western New England University)

A sizable literature exists regarding the social needs of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD; see Rao, Beidel, & Murray, 2008; and Schreiber, 2011 for recent reviews); however, empirical literature pertaining to social needs of young adults with autism is lacking (Gerhardt & Weiss, 2011). Due to early identification and effective interventions for children with ASDs, a growing number of young adults with ASDs attend college or seek competitive employment (Howlin, 2005). College and work environments present a number of unique obstacles for individuals with ASDs (e.g., living independently or with a roommate; communicating effectively with professors, peers, employers, and coworkers; forming and maintaining friendships and romantic relationships) and obstacles to those who provide services for these individuals (e.g., difficulties with assessment, measurement, and reinforcer identification). In this paper we (1) review the literature on social needs of young adults with autism, (2) make suggestions regarding assessment and treatment techniques, (3) identify barriers to assessment and treatment and tactics to circumvent those barriers, and (4) provide recommendations for future research.


Teaching Adults With High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders to Serve as ABA Therapists for Young Children With Autism

RACHEL HOFFMAN (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Lynn Hawkins (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Mia Caccavale (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Melania Ruth Brown (University of Houston-Clear Lake)

Although a large percentage of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder have been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome (AS), high-functioning autism (HFA), or pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), little research has targeted this population. As children and adolescents, their academic work and adaptive skills may be comparable to those of their peers. Yet, as adults, they have substantial difficulty obtaining and maintaining employment. Further research is needed on vocational training programs and career opportunities that meet the needs of this population. A potential unexplored vocation is serving as a behavior therapist for young children with autism. Individuals who provide behavior analytic interventionists receive structured, hands-on training, combined with on-going monitoring and feedback. The procedures applied by behavior therapists when working with young children are explicitly delineated, invariant, and highly structured. As such, the task seems well-suited for individuals with AS and HFA. The purpose of this study was to pilot a training program for adults with AS, HFA, or PDD-NOS, who were interested in learning the skills used by behavior therapists when working with young children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Four adults, aged 21 to 30 years, participated. Each participant was trained individually using verbal and written instructions, modeling, and role-play with feedback to teach2 basic skills to an adult who was role-playing as a young child with autism. Generalization of the teaching skills was evaluated by having the participant (a) teach the adult confederate2 additional targets that were not included in training and (b) teach a new skill to a young child with autism. Results indicated that3 of the4 participants rapidly acquired the teaching skills and that these skills generalized to new targets and to an actual child.


Improving Conversational Skills of a College Student Diagnosed With a Learning Disability

LAUREN BEAULIEU (University of Massachusetts - Lowell), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University), Joana L. Santiago (Western New England University)

We used a multiple baseline across behaviors design to evaluate the effects of peer-mediated behavior skills training on the conversational skills of an undergraduate student diagnosed with a learning disability. Following treatment, we observed a decrease in interrupting and content specificity and an increase in questioning; results maintained with naive peers during unstructured conversations. We collected normative data on the conversational skills of typically-developing undergraduates, and after treatment, the participant engaged in conversational skills similar to his peers.




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