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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #139
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Approaches to the Study of Social Interactions in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sunday, May 27, 2007
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Elizabeth G
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer M. Gillis Mattson (Auburn University)
Discussant: Raymond G. Romanczyk (Institute for Child Development)
CE Instructor: Jennifer M. Gillis Mattson, Ph.D.

Social interactions primarily consist of approach (i.e., initiations and response to initiations) or avoidance behavior between individuals. Social interactions involve complex nonverbal, verbal, and behavioral cues that typically influences an individuals behavior in some predictable ways. The hallmark deficit in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is the social impairment, which involves a significant difficulty with social interactions. Measurement procedures for social interactions varies across studies in our field, with many research studies using parent or teacher reports as well as standardized assessments, to describe a childs social skills and interactions. The first paper in this symposium will present results from a study that conducted a parametric analysis of some of the variables involved in a social interaction in young children with ASD. In addition, a new behavioral assessment, the Social Interaction Inventory-Revised (SII-R) that was developed to quantify social interactions will be introduced. The second paper presented will share results from a study that included typically developing children for the purposes of providing normative data for the SII-R. The third paper will present results from a study that included children with ASD and a follow-up assessment to determine if the SII-R is sensitive to changes in social interactions in children with ASD.

Examining Factors that Affect Social Behavior among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
ROSE F. EAGLE (Institute for Child Development), Raymond G. Romanczyk (Institute for Child Development)
Abstract: This study investied factors that affect the social behavior of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). The effects of two types of adult-initiated social behavior on the social behavior of two groups of children with ASDs were examined. The two groups included were 1) children with minimal language, and 2) children with some communicative language. The participants experienced two conditions: 1) “Passive Behavior” in which an unfamiliar adult sat quietly without making any social initiations, and 2) “Social Behavior” in which an unfamiliar adult made frequent social initiations. There was no significant difference between the two conditions or the two groups on the measures of interpersonal distance. Measures of socialization behaviors and symptom severity were significantly correlated with frequency of social initiations. A large proportion of participants (10 of 22) did not respond to the manipulation (i.e. remained inactive). Thus, differences between the inactive children and the active children were examined. The active children, though further away from the adults, made significantly more social initiations. Implications are discussed in terms of behavioral subtypes in ASDs.
The Social Interaction Inventory, Revised: The Development of Norms for a New Measure of Social Behavior.
EMILY HUBER CALLAHAN (Institute for Child Development), Raymond G. Romanczyk (Institute for Child Development)
Abstract: A qualitative impairment in social interactions is one of the core components of autistic disorder as defined in the DSM-IV-TR. Most programs developed for individuals with autism include social skills instruction or training and growing attention has been directed at the development of effective interventions (Koegel, Koegel & MeNerney, 2001; Strain & Hoyson, 2000; Hestenes, & Carroll, 2000). However, there are limited tools available to assess social skills and even fewer designed to assess improvements in social behavior. While there are some measures that are useful for identifying children who may be displaying deficits or delays in social functioning, they do not provide information about the specific nature of a child’s social difficulties and were not designed to track behavior change. The focus of the current study was to use the Social Interaction Inventory-Revised (SII-R) (Gillis, Romanczyk & Lockshin, 2005) to assess social interactions in typically developing children 2- to 5-years of age to establish a set of norms. Furthermore, patterns of age differences in social competence and development were examined using this measure. Age was not significantly related to scores obtained on the SII-R. However, a significant positive relationship was observed between social initiations made by the participant and a participant’s responses to the initiations of the examiner suggesting that the development of these two skills are coordinated in typically developing children, and that these skills develop very early.
The Social Interaction Inventory, Revised: An ASD Sample and Six-Month Follow-Up.
Abstract: An accurate assessment tool is crucial in the identification, evaluation, and treatment of children with deficits in social development. While many tests rely on self and/or third party questionnaires, the Social Interaction Inventory- Revised (SII-R) is unique in that it utilizes direct observations of social interaction in a controlled clinical setting. The SII-R attempts to assess skills in two domains of social interaction: Social Initiation and Social Responsivity. In the present study, the SII-R was administered to a sample of children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (N=40). The children with ASD scored significantly lower than typical children in both domains. These results are consistent with the impairments in social skills typically seen in individuals with ASD. Six months after the first administration, a second administration of the SII-R was conducted with the same sample of children. Scores are compared with progress on social skills goals for each child, while attending an applied behavioral analysis day school program. The results are discussed in terms of utility of the SII-R as a behavioral measure of social competence for young children with ASD and as a measure of change of social competence over time.



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