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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #21
Social Skills Training in Diverse Settings: School, Private Practice and a Summer Treatment Program
Saturday, May 24, 2008
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Continental A
Area: CBM/CSE; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Steven Gordon (Behavior Therapy Associates)
Discussant: Sandra L. Harris (Rutgers University)
Abstract: Social skills impairments are evident in children with a wide range of disabilities including Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Nonverbal Learning Disabilities. Social Skills Training (SST) has become a standard recommended intervention for those who show such deficits. Recent research findings investigating the effectiveness of SST with populations of children considered Emotionally and Behaviorally Disordered (EBD) and those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have found a weak effect. Reasons for this weak effect have been accounted for in the manner of the delivery of SST such as a low frequency of sessions delivered in a time limited fashion, a pull-out program, failure to match deficit to intervention and a lack of treatment fidelity. Innovative models of SST need to be developed that address these limitations and have the potential to contribute to the overall effectiveness of SST. This symposium will present emerging models of implementing SST in diverse settings: a public school, a private psychology practice and finally, a five-week summer treatment program.
Social Skills Training in a Public School Setting.
LINDSAY HILSEN (Hopewell Valley Regional School District)
Abstract: Students with special needs often lack social awareness and present with social skills deficits. As a result direct instruction in social skills is required so that psychological adjustment is enhanced. A public school setting lends itself to a multitude of opportunities and challenges for social skills training. The social skills program at Hopewell Valley Regional School District began at the middle school meeting twice a week and has expanded into the high school meeting five times a week. Social skills have been incorporated into all academic classes through a life skills philosophy. Administrators, teachers, parents, and typically developing peers have been brought “on board” contributing to a team approach thereby facilitating the acquisition, generalization and maintenance of social skills. Social learning principles of prompting, shaping, modeling, and reinforcement are used to promote skill acquisition. Problems of implementation and strategies to address these problems will be reviewed.
Recruitment, Retention and Results: Social Skills Training Groups in a Private Psychology Practice.
STEVEN GORDON (Behavior Therapy Associates)
Abstract: Social Skills Training groups within a private psychology practice setting present unique challenges of Recruitment, Retention and Results (The Three Rs). These specific obstacles have been addressed in an evolving model employed at Behavior Therapy Associates for the past four years with over twenty groups for children with ASD and other disorders. In contrast to school-based settings, a large number of children are not readily available in private practice, therefore special attempts are needed to form groups by age, gender, cognitive level and communication skills. Recruitment obstacles are addressed via referrals from other professionals, schools, and previous and existing clients. Retention in private practice becomes another issue since children have to leave a setting that is highly reinforcing (e.g., home) for a setting that may be less reinforcing (e.g., therapist’s office). Obstacles are addressed via high rates of individualized feedback to children and parents, tangible reinforcement, and strategies to promote generalization. Results are achieved by the use of the 3D Approach (i.e., Discuss, Demonstrate, Do) for each skill. These time-limited groups use rules, reinforcement, discussion, modeling, behavior rehearsal, homework assignments, and parent and school involvement. Future directions for this model will be delineated.
Intense Social Skills Training Within A Five-Week Summer Treatment Program.
MICHAEL C. SELBST (Behavior Therapy Associates, P.A.)
Abstract: Many school districts and parents are faced with the challenge of providing effective social skills programming throughout the summer time for children with special needs. This is compounded by the fact that many children with social skills deficits have significant difficulty transitioning to and succeeding within traditional summer camp programs. In light of these issues, Behavior Therapy Associates founded Stepping Stone Summer Program in 2000 that has expanded to a five-week intensive social skills program. Stepping Stone is designed to develop children’s social-emotional and behavioral skills through specialized group training, individualized attention, recreational activities, and academic-related activities. Students learn a problem-solving approach that can be applied within everyday situations. The program also helps parents and staff members learn to effectively coach the children across a variety of social situations and settings. Components of the program include structure, group-format with role playing, natural environment opportunities for generalization, direct and incidental teaching, positive reinforcement system, daily feedback to parents, and carryover strategies shared with parents and referring school districts. The goal of this program is to help children expand their social skills repertoire by utilizing a problem-solving approach while incorporating ABA principles. An overview of the program will be discussed.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh