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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #376
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advancements in Play and Social Skill Development for Children With Autism
Sunday, May 24, 2020
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 201
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Emma Seliina Sipila-Thomas (Michigan State University )
CE Instructor: Emma Seliina Sipila-Thomas, M.A.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have trouble establishing and maintaining relationships, do not engage in appropriate play with their peers, and show key deficits in conversational speech. This symposium seeks to address these problems by presenting three studies that use interventions to increase social and play skills with children with ASD. The first study implemented a manualized social-play intervention and evaluated student social and play skill outcomes. The second study taught children with ASD a socially appropriate method to ensure their own preferences were respected while playing with a peer. The third study implemented a multiple-baseline design across dyads of children with ASD to assess the potential of using scripts, presented through text messages, on the conversational speech between eight participants with ASD during free play. All three studies for this symposium have important implications for increasing social and play skills with children with ASD.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Autism, Play, Social Skills, Verbal Behavior
Target Audience:

Board Certified Behavior Analysts

Learning Objectives: CE Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) develop teaching tools, such as behavioral skills training, to teach children with ASD to identify preferred toys; (2) identify a teaching strategy to teach children with ASD to express their own play preferences; (3) identify the strengths of naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions in teaching social skills to children with ASD
An Evaluation of a Manualized Social-Play Intervention Using a Randomized Controlled Trial
EMMA SELIINA SIPILA-THOMAS (Michigan State University ), Matthew T. Brodhead (Michigan State University), Josh Plavnick (Michigan State University)
Abstract: Play is an essential pivotal skill for children because it is both an important developmental outcome and a context for much of the curriculum presented in early learning environments. However, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a troubling developmental social trajectory due to their deficits in social behaviors and restricted interests that severely inhibit their ability to engage in appropriate play with their peers. Given the importance of social skill development in children with ASD, it is paramount that children with ASD receive access to social skills programs at an early age, alongside their typically developing peers, in order to fully benefit from future meaningful social experiences throughout their lifespan. To date, there are no carefully designed manualized procedures for educators to deliver social-play skills interventions to children with ASD within inclusive early-childhood special education settings. The purposes of the present study were to: (1) implement a manualized social-play curriculum, Play20, and (2) evaluate student social and play skill outcomes using a randomized controlled trial containing a treatment (i.e., Play20) and control group. Students in the Play20 group engaged in more and higher quality play actions than students in the control group. The findings and implications are discussed.

Teaching Negotiation Skills During Play to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

NICOLE O'GUINN (Baylor University), Jessica Akers (Baylor University)

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often have trouble establishing and maintaining relationships. This difficulty is intensified by the restricted interests and repetitive behaviors which are typically present within this population. These difficulties are often exhibited during play with their peers. Research supports teaching several skills necessary to play with peers, including assessing and responding to a peer’s preference. However, children with ASD are generally not taught to negotiate with a peer during play to ensure both play partners’ preferences are honored. The purpose of this the current study is to provide children with ASD a socially appropriate method to ensure their own preferences are respected while playing with a peer. The intervention included a behavioral skill training package to teach children with ASD to first identify toys which are preferred and non-preferred by the peer with whom they are playing. Following mastery of this skill, we teach children to negotiate for their own play preference while considering their peer’s play preferences using a first then statement. For example, “if we first play with (peer’s preferred toy) then can we play with (child with ASD’s preferred toy)?”. Generalization will be assessed with a novel peer.


A Collaborative Parent-Implemented Script Program to Teach Conversational Speech to Their Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder at Home

MELAURA ERICKSON TOMAINO (Port View Preparatory), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)

A multiple baseline design across participants (parent/child dyads) was used to evaluate the effectiveness of a collaborative parent training program in teaching parents to implement a script program to teach their children with ASD to engage in a reciprocal conversation at home. A script training program was designed with parents and experimenter creating appropriate home themed scripts for parents to later us. Several versions of scripts (multiple exemplars) were created (Scripts A,B,C) for each parent-child dyad. Once all baseline probes across all scripts and all settings (home and generalization settings) were taken, the script program was implemented in the home by the parents. Parents demonstrated quick acquisition of the script procedures and all child participants learned the scripts. Five out of six children generalized the skill across conversational topic to an untrained topic.




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