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

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Symposium #408
CE Offered: BACB
Building Social Repertoires and Ensuring Their Generalization in Children and Adolescents with Autism
Monday, May 26, 2008
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
International South
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Dawn B. Townsend (Institute for Educational Achievement)
Discussant: Gregory S. MacDuff (Princeton Child Development Institute)
CE Instructor: Dawn B. Townsend, Ph.D.

It is often difficult for individuals with autism to effectively interact with others because of their deficits in social skill development, difficulties in reading social cues, and the often too common failure of skill generalization and maintenance. Yet, social interaction with others is critically important in all aspects of life. In this symposium, researchers will share data from three studies targeting the development and generalization of social skills. The presenters will highlight the importance of behavior analytic teaching strategies, such as modeling, script and script-fading procedures, prompting, and reinforcement, when targeting social skills. Specifically, data collected through the conduct of single-subject experimental investigations will be presented in reference to the development of greeting skills, sharing, and empathetic responding. In addition, the researchers will describe the extent to which such skills were acquired during training conditions, as well as the extent to which skills generalized from training to non-training situations. Finally, the presenters will discuss the importance of programming for the development of important social and language responses when educating individuals with autism.

Teaching Adolescents with Autism to Initiate Greetings with Script-Fading.
KEVIN J. BROTHERS (Somerset Hills Learning Institute), Yolanta Kornak (Somerset Hills Learning Institute)
Abstract: Impairments in social interactions are a core deficit for learners with autism. Delays and disturbances in language development add to the difficulties of interacting with others that many learners with autism display. Recent research on the use of scripts and script fading procedures has been effective for increasing language skills of people with autism in social situations (e.g., Krantz & McClannahan, 1993,1998 ) This paper will describe the use of a multiple baseline design across learners to assess the effects of scripts and script-fading procedures to teach three adolescent learners with autism to initiate appropriate greetings. Learners were taught to read written scripts or activate audio scripts when a visitor approached the learner in his classroom. Upon meeting criterion for imitating the scripts, learners’ scripts were faded one word at a time from the last word to the first. Throughout the study, generalization to untrained visitors was assessed and interobserver agreement measures were obtained. Results showed that all three learners acquired greeting skills and generalized their skills to the presence of unfamiliar visitors without scripts.
Teaching Children with Autism a Generalized Repertoire of Offering to Share.
DENISE MARZULLO (Bancroft NeuroHealth), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell College), Dawn B. Townsend (Institute for Educational Achievement), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell College)
Abstract: The development of prosocial behavior in general, and of sharing specifically, in early childhood is important, but often difficult in children with autism because of an impairment in prerequisite social skills, difficulty in learning through observation, and the failure of prosocial skills generalizing or remaining durable over time. The present study extended the procedure and design used by Reeve, Reeve, Townsend and Poulson (2007) to teach a generalized repertoire of offering to share in four children with autism, ages 7 and 8. A multiple probe baseline design was used across participants to assess the effectiveness of a treatment package consisting of multiple exemplars from four stimulus categories, video modeling, prompting and reinforcement on offers to share. Offers to share increased across all three children following the introduction of the treatment package, and sharing generalized to a novel setting, novel stimuli and novel adults and peers. Within-stimulus-category generalization was also demonstrated by all participants. Results demonstrate that a compact version of the teaching package used by Reeve et al. (2007) can be extended to other areas of prosocial behavior in children with autism.
Empathetic Responding to Affective Stimuli: Video and In Vivo Modeling Along with Prompting and Reinforcement.
PAUL ARGOTT (Queens College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York), Dawn B. Townsend (Institute for Educational Achievement), Claire L. Poulson (Queens College, City University of New York)
Abstract: Previous studies have suggested that children with autism have deficits in differential empathic responding to affective stimuli, but that these skills can be taught through behavior analytic techniques. The current study analyzed the effectiveness of a treatment package consisting of video modeling, in-vivo modeling, prompting, and reinforcement to increase empathic responding by children with autism to affective stimuli. Responses taught included statements of empathy, gestures, facial expressions, and correct vocal intonation, all four of which had to be present for a complete empathic response to be scored. A multiple baseline across empathic response categories design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment package with four students with autism. In the treatment phase, correct responding produced tokens exchangeable for preferred snacks and toys, while incorrect responding produced a correction procedure. Generalization was measured from reinforced training trials to nonreinforced probe trials every session. Furthermore, generalization from the instructor to a non-training adult was measured once a week. The number of complete empathic responses increased systematically with the successive introduction of the treatment package. The data illustrate that differential responding with complete empathic responses to affective stimuli can be taught to students with autism using modeling, prompting, and reinforcement.



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