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 #514
CE Offered: BACB
Rethinking Early Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Critical Role of Parents as Therapists
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Area: DEV/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Rebecca P. F. MacDonald (The New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Christine Reeve, Ph.D.

This collection of papers highlights the vital role of parental involvement in the early intervention autism treatment team. Emphasis is placed on collaboration between parents and professionals to maximize on treatment gains through naturally occurring developmental processes across settings.

The Starting Right Program: Providing Parent and Family Support to Enhance the Quality of Early Intervention Services for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
CHRISTINE REEVE (Mailman Segal Institute), Heather O'Brien (Mailman Segal Institute)
Abstract: With the increasing number of children being diagnosed with autism and with children being diagnosed earlier and earlier, the need for effective programs for children younger than 3 is greatly increasing. These services need to be designed to increase skills of the children, prepare the children for school-based instruction in the future, and improve parents’ skills in teaching and supporting new skills in their children to assure generalization and maintenance of these skills. Starting Right is a pilot program designed for children under 3 years of age with autism and related disabilities. Children enter the program at the earliest identification, and parents and children attend class together 2 to 3 days per week for 4 hours per day. Didactic parent training and parent support groups are also offered to families of the children enrolled. This presentation will highlight the practices of the program, the strategies implemented, and follow the progress of the children from entry to exit in regards to educational functioning.
Social Referencing as a Learned Process.
TARA M. SHEEHAN (Nova Southeastern University), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University), Jacob L. Gewirtz (Florida International University)
Abstract: This paper will provide a brief review of social referencing from the developmental and behavior analytic literatures. The typical development of social referencing behavior in infants will be examined, highlighting the pivotal role of parents in the process. The role of social referencing in the development of social behavior, including joint attention and social reciprocity, will be explored. Deficits in social referencing behavior in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder will be identified and suggestions for autism intervention and treatment will be provided.
Training Parents to Evoke and Reinforce Social Referencing Behavior in their Young Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
TARA M. SHEEHAN (Nova Southeastern University), Hernan Dennis Ruf (Nova Southeastern University), Heather O'Brien (Mailman Segal Institute), Liliana Dietsch-Vazquez (Nova Southeastern University), Melissa DeVincentis (Nova Southeastern University)
Abstract: Social referencing is a pivotal skill for social interaction. Social referencing is the ability to use other people’s emotional reactions as a critical reference point for subsequent behavioral responses. Typically, social referencing is utilized to respond to confusing, unexpected or ambiguous stimuli. Social referencing behavior has been reliably observed in infants 12 months of age using the visual cliff experimental procedure. However, children identified as having autism spectrum disorder often do not learn to use social referencing to manage uncertainty. Instead, children identified as having autism spectrum disorder learn to avoid or attempt to control uncertain and confusing situations. This presentation will outline a parent training procedure based on pivotal response training designed to teach parents to evoke and reinforce social referencing behavior when interacting in play activities with their young child with autism spectrum disorder. Data on both parent and child behavior will be presented and the effectiveness of utilizing parents to teach social referencing to their child with autism spectrum disorder will be discussed.
Adult Child Interaction Therapy Using Video: A Preliminary Intervention Program for Pre-School Children with Autism.
DONIA FAHIM (University of London)
Abstract: A positive partnership with parents and effective multidisciplinary work are vital elements to teaching children with Autism. Adult Child Interaction Therapy (ACIT), a therapy tool which has been designed to teach parents how to positively pair with their children, has been used for several years with positive outcomes. The main principle of ACIT is to develop a partnership with parents, enhancing their understanding of their child with the therapist's theoretical and clinical expertise, whilst teaching the parents objectives that can be worked on with positive outcomes. Its most unique feature is the use of video to analyse in minute detail the transitory nature of communication. From the video analysis, aims can be identified and they can be objectively measured and observed. Following the four week ACIT block, the parent-child dyad is enrolled into a more intensive early intervention program. The dyad is then reassessed 10 weeks later and progress made by both the adult and the child are identified and measured. This paper discusses the importance of parental involvement and interaction, the importance of using video and how ACIT has been successfully used with parents from a variety of socio-economic spheres and with different abilities prior to them beginning structured language intervention.



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