The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of workshops and coaching on paraprofessional implementation of function-based interventions. The results of indirect and direct functional behavior assessment guided the development of intervention strategies for three students with autism and intellectual disability. Following intervention, students’ appropriate behavior increased and challenging behavior decreased. In general, paraprofessionals implemented strategies with high levels of fidelity and judged both the coaching and workshop training procedures and student intervention strategies as socially valid. Implications for practice, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
In the current study, we examined the effects of response prompting strategies (i.e., constant time delay, system of least prompts) and frames on sentence writing for three participants, ages 7 to 12, with moderate intellectual disability. We used a concurrent multiple probe across behaviors design to evaluate the efficacy of the intervention package and posttest probes to assess generalized responding to untrained stimulation. During intervention, the teacher taught two students to construct sentences using selection-based software and another to generate handwritten responses across three different writing frames (i.e., I want _________, I see _____, The _____ is ______). Our findings suggest that the package was effective and produced variable levels of maintenance and generalized responding for all three participants.
There has been an increased interest in research evaluating the use of handheld computing technology as speech-generating devices (SGD) for children with autism. However, given the reliance on single-subject research methodology, replications of these investigations are necessary. This study presents a replication with variation, of a method for the acquisition of picture-symbol discrimination during mand training, while using the iPad® and application Proloquo2Go™ as an SGD in young children with autism. In a four-phased training procedure, three children with a diagnosis of autism acquired the ability to mand and discriminate between four picture-symbols on the screen of the device, while using the iPad Mini® as an SGD. In addition, for all three participants, the acquired repertoires maintained following the discontinuation of training. These results provide continued support for the use of handheld computing devices as SGD for children with autism.
Little is known about how internalizing symptoms in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affect family outcomes, despite the high rates of internalizing disorders in ASD and the dynamic relationships among child, parent, and family variables. We evaluated the predictive value of internalizing symptoms in 69 adolescents with ASD and average-range cognitive abilities on family impact. In addition, we examined the correspondence between parent and child symptom ratings. Results indicated that internalizing symptoms predict family impact above IQ and externalizing symptoms. Depression (but not anxiety) predicted more positive family functioning, and parents rated more internalizing symptoms than adolescents. The results are contrary to our initial predictions, and we offer several explanations for this difference. Differences between parent and child ratings of internalizing symptoms are also explored.
Peer-mediated instruction and intervention (PMII) is a systematic, evidence-based method for addressing the social-communication needs of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite existing research on this practice, gaps remain in the implementation of PMII. The purpose of this empirical review was to examine recent applications of this evidence-based practice and systematically assess the quality of the analytic approaches implemented. Recent studies selected for this review included participants with ASD and targeted social-communication skills. The Scientific Merit Rating Scale (SMRS) was used to review the quality of the research studies, and the results suggest that PMII continues to be an effective practice. These results indicate that future research should focus on larger study Ns, particularly for those who are preschool-age, and include measures of generalization and maintenance as well as treatment integrity measures of peers’ actions. The effectiveness of PMII relative to positive developmental outcomes is discussed.
The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a video modeling (VM) intervention in conjunction with a system of least prompts (SLP) to teach safety skills using cell phones to students with a moderate intellectual disability. A multiple-probe design across three participants was used to assess student acquisition in taking and sending a picture of a key identifier (i.e., a sign) during a role-play scenario in which students pretended to be lost in the community. Intervention sessions were conducted at the students’ middle school, at their community-based instruction site, and at an unfamiliar community location. All students successfully learned to take and send the picture in the community locations at the mastery criterion and generalized the skills at an unfamiliar community site. Implications of the use of VM to address the integration of technology with safety skill instruction and other areas of future research are discussed.
Video self-modeling (VSM) uses a method called feedforward to provide children the opportunity to view themselves as they perform in a more advanced or appropriate manner than they do presently. Typically, this is accomplished through the careful editing of videos. Studies on VSM and social skills with children on the autism spectrum ages 3 to 4 years have produced mixed results. In this study, a single-subject multiple-baseline design across four children (three on the autism spectrum and one with Down syndrome) with a mean age of 4 years 2 months was used to determine whether VSM would facilitate social initiations. This study was meant to be a replication of a study published in 2012. Positive changes were seen for all four children. The relationship between age and VSM efficacy is discussed along with other factors that may influence VSM outcomes with young children.
There have been few examples of inductive research in sensory reactivity, particularly in relation to autistic traits among the general population. This study used a mixed methods approach to explore the nature of sensory experiences among people with different levels of autistic traits. Participants completed the Glasgow Sensory Questionnaire and the Autism Spectrum Quotient. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses were performed on the data. Responses to the open questions were analyzed as part of this study, and the closed questionnaire data have been reported elsewhere. Data were coded and responses quantitatively compared by group. In addition, data were qualitatively analyzed using a general inductive approach, which resulted in two themes: "problematic sensory experiences" and "calming sensory experiences." Results show that coping mechanisms and certain aspects of the sensory experience vary according to autistic trait level, and provide insight into the nature of sensory reactivity across the general population.
Telehealth training may benefit parents’ use of early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study is one of the few randomized trials to compare telehealth parent training in the Early Start Denver Model (P-ESDM) with a community treatment-as-usual, early intervention program. Parents were randomized to 12 weekly 1.5-hr videoconferencing sessions with website access to P-ESDM learning resources or to monthly 1.5-hr videoconferencing sessions with website access to alternative resources to support their intervention. Telehealth training facilitated higher parent fidelity gains and program satisfaction for more of the P-ESDM than the community group at the end of the 12-week training and at follow-up. Children’s social communication skills improved for both groups regardless of parent fidelity. Findings suggest the feasibility of telehealth training with improved parent intervention usage and satisfaction from the program. However, the impact of these effects on children’s development over time is yet to be understood.
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently exhibit generalization errors, but many instructional programs fail to address this deficit. Generalization errors encompass when the learner should extend the use of a newly taught behavior to other contexts but does not (under-generalization), as well as when he or she should not use the newly established behavior in new contexts but does (over-generalization). This study was designed to evaluate the generalization errors of a preschooler with ASD. Following an intervention in which the participant was taught to request assistance with difficult tasks using a continuous reinforcement schedule, generalization gradients across levels of task difficulty were implemented to examine patterns of generalization. Initial results showed over-generalization of assistance requests and corresponding reductions in independent (the absence of any instructional prompts) task completion across all levels of task difficulty. A final phase involving competing schedules of reinforcement for assistance requests and independent work with video modeling led to improved conditional use of assistance requests. Implications for teaching conditional use of assistance requests are discussed.
Facilitated communication (FC) has been interpreted as an ideomotor phenomenon, in which one person physically supports another person’s hand and unconsciously affects the content of the writing. Despite the strong experimental evidence against the authenticity of FC output, several studies claim to support its validity based on idiosyncrasies found in the texts produced. A review of these studies showed that, because of the logical circularity of the reasoning proposed in the studies, no decisive evidence that validated FC was presented. In addition, the idiosyncrasies found were better explained as by-products of the unusual writing process itself. Finally, the studies did not fulfill the quality standards proposed by the FC field itself.
Today, the use of formal preference assessments, including paired-stimulus preference assessments, is widely utilized to help determine which items to use as reinforcers during intervention. A second way to determine potential reinforcers is to analyze multiple dimensions of a stimulus in the moment, a procedure known as in-the-moment reinforcer analysis. Although paired-stimulus preference assessments are widely used, there is no experimental evidence that extensive advance preference assessments actually produce higher rates of learning than in-the-moment reinforcer analysis. The present study compared rates of learning on a simple expressive labeling task when correct responses were reinforced with items selected based on extensive formal paired-preference assessments versus items selected by a teacher using in-the-moment analysis of reinforcer effects. The results indicated no clear difference in skill acquisition, but there were clear differences in terms of efficiency and maintenance.
Social skills interventions designed to increase pro-social interactions for individuals with autism spectrum disorders are critical, but the relative effectiveness of these interventions is not well understood. More than 250 single-case design studies in 113 articles were reviewed and described in terms of participants, settings, arrangements, implementers, social partners, target behaviors, and treatment components. Differential success rates are reported, given the variation in study and participant characteristics (e.g., implementers, treatment components, participant age). Environmental arrangement, social skills training, and prompting were highly successful, and peer training, priming, and video-based interventions were less successful. More evidence is needed, particularly research including older individuals and utilizing indigenous implementers and typical social partners.
Although social validation of the goals, methods, and outcomes of evidence-based practices (EBPs) in autism treatment is a significant factor in their selection and effective use, EBPs are typically identified on the basis of the technical soundness of research without consideration of social validity. The authors investigated EBPs and emerging treatments identified by the National Autism Center (NAC) and National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders (NPDC) to determine which interventions have evidence of social validity, and the types of social validation addressed. A review of 828 articles cited by the NAC and NPDC determined that only 221 articles (26.7%) demonstrated direct evidence of the measurement of social validation. Of seven social validity categories analyzed, only consumer satisfaction, clinically significant behavioral change, and socially important dependent variables were consistently reported. A list of EBPs with varying levels of social and empirical validation is presented, and implications for future research are discussed.
Students with moderate intellectual disability often experience limited access to age-appropriate texts due to limitations in reading skills, access to instruction and supports, and educator beliefs. Use of text read alouds is an emerging tool for increasing such access; however, supports are often still required for access to age-appropriate texts. The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of the picture plus discussion (PPD) intervention on the comprehension abilities of high school students with moderate intellectual disability when expository texts were read aloud. A multiple probe design was used to measure the effect of this intervention across three different types of texts including leveled readers, stories from a local newspaper, and sections from employee handbooks. Results indicate that the PPD intervention was successful in increasing student comprehension as measured by story retell. Implications and future directions for research and practice are discussed.
This study examined differences in self-determination among students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), students with intellectual disability (ID), and students with learning disabilities (LD). A total of 222 participants with an equal size group for each of the three disability categories were selected to participate in the comparison of total self-determination and domain scores. A multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) was performed on four dependent variables (DVs)/factors, including autonomy, self-regulation, psychological empowerment, and self-realization. The results indicated that students with ASD had significantly lower levels of autonomy compared with students in either other group; that students with ID had significantly lower levels of self-regulation than students with LD, but not significantly different from students with ASD; that students with ASD and students with ID had significantly lower levels of psychological empowerment than students with LD; and that students with ID had significantly lower levels of self-realization than students with LD, but not significantly different from students with ASD. Suggestions for future research and implications for educators were also discussed.
This study compared the reliability, validity, and measurement properties of the Supports Intensity Scale–Children’s Version (SIS-C) in children with autism and intellectual disability (n = 2,124) and children with intellectual disability only (n = 1,861). The results suggest that SIS-C is a valid and reliable tool in both populations. Furthermore, the results of multi-group confirmatory factor analyses suggest that measurement invariance can be established across the two groups but that latent differences are present. Specifically, children with autism and intellectual disability tend to have higher intensities of support needs in social activities across age cohorts (5- to 6-, 7- to 8-, 9- to 10-, 11- to 12-, 13- to 14, and 15- to 16-year-olds), and children with intellectual disability only tended to have stronger correlations among support need domains measured on the SIS-C. Implications for applying the SIS-C to assessment and support planning are described.
The aim of this project was to develop an early reading intervention for children with Down syndrome based on the related behavioral phenotype. The intervention targeted learning of letter–sound correspondences, reading of decodable and high frequency words, and phonological awareness. We evaluated the feasibility and potential efficacy of the intervention with seven children between the ages of 6 and 8 years who participated in a series of multiple-probe across lessons single-case design studies. Results indicate a functional relation between the intervention and mastery of taught content for three students. Two students demonstrated positive although inconsistent response; two students demonstrated limited learning. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
The purpose of this systematic review was to synthesize 22 single-case research design (SCRD) studies on social stories intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We used the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) SCRD standards to analyze study rigor and evidence of a causal relation. We calculated four nonoverlap indices to evaluate intervention, maintenance, and generalization effects. Results suggested that all studies met the WWC design standards with or without reservations. Seven studies (32%) provided strong or moderate evidence of a causal relation. Nonoverlap indices calculations indicated social stories intervention was effective. Using the WWC 5-3-20 guidelines to determine evidence of social stories, social stories intervention would not be considered an evidence-based practice (EBP) for individuals with ASD based on visual analysis, but would be deemed an EBP based on nonoverlap indices. It is worth noting that WWC used visual analysis, not nonoveralap indices, to determine whether an intervention meets the 5-3-20 replication rule. Findings of the systematic review showed there were discrepancies. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
Using a multiple baseline single-subject design, this study evaluated the effects of a text structure intervention package on the ability of students with autism to comprehend traditional science texts. Three high school students with high-functioning autism and their teacher participated in this study. The intervention package included instruction in types of text structures using a text structure organization sheet before reading, and completing an analysis and summary sheet during and after reading. Results indicated that the instruction was highly effective during intervention and maintenance phase for all three participants. The first-year special education teacher was able to implement the intervention with fidelity. All participants agreed that the intervention was helpful for reading science texts. Future research and implications for classroom intervention is discussed.
Adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and significant intellectual disability (ID) often have limited speech communication abilities. Abundant research supports use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to enhance skills of children with ASD and ID, but less research has examined efficacy of AAC with non-speaking adults. In this study, three adults with ASD and significant ID were taught basic functional communication using the iPod Touch® with MyTalk Mobile® software within a single-case, multiple-probe across-subjects design. The iPod Touch® taught with most-to-least prompting increased participants’ independent manding, participants were able to discriminate between picture symbols, and participants’ manding generalized to a naturalistic setting with typically available preferred items. Implementation of AAC coincided with increases in speech for one participant. Results illustrate how an applied behavior analysis approach incorporating a speech generating device is effective in teaching communication to adults with ASD and significant ID.
Shared active surface (SAS) technology can be described as a supersized tablet computer for multiple simultaneous users. SAS technology has the potential to resolve issues historically associated with learning via single-user computer technology. This study reports findings of a SAS on the social communication and nonsocial speech of two preschool children with disabilities. An alternating treatments design was used to compare differences in these behaviors during a SAS technology–based coloring activity and analog coloring activity. Results indicated distinct differences in social communication and nonsocial speech across participants. Implications of the findings are discussed, and directions for potential research with this technology are provided.
Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) must identify, select, and even implement treatments. Child age, cognitive functioning, ASD symptoms, family income, parent education, and cultural background, all may influence treatment selection. Parents’ perceptions about ASD also may contribute. We explored whether parents’ perceptions of ASD, along with family- and child-specific characteristics, predicted use of various ASD treatment categories. Sixty-eight families from the Simons Simplex Collection completed the Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ-R). Logistic regression results indicated that when parent perceptions predicted use of a treatment category, relative contribution of perceptions was somewhat stronger than child- and family-specific factors (i.e., demographics, functioning). Moreover, predictive factors differed between treatment categories. Overall, treatment category use was influenced by parents’ perceptions of control over ASD treatment, behaviors perceived to be related to ASD, and beliefs about chronicity of the diagnosis. These findings may contribute to broader understanding of parents’ ASD treatment selection and enhance professionals’ ability to guide families’ decision-making.
This study examined the reliability and validity and hypothesized factor structure of two assessments of self-determination, the Arc’s Self-Determination Scale (SDS) and the American Institutes for Research Self-Determination Scale (AIR) in students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Ninety-five middle and high school students (17% female and 83% male) aged 13 through 21 years participated. Item analysis and confirmatory factor analysis were conducted separately for the SDS and AIR data. Together, the findings of this study suggest that (a) the two measures in this study show reliability and validity in the measurement of global self-determination in students with ASD and (b) the parameter estimates and the model fit statistics support the hypothesized factor structure of both instruments (with light variation for the SDS). Suggestions for future research and implications for educators are discussed.
Youth with disabilities are less likely to enroll and complete postsecondary education than their nondisabled peers. Using a qualitative, cross-case design, we investigated the high school to college transition experiences of young adults diagnosed with Asperger syndrome (AS). Data sources included a family questionnaire, review of special education records, and multiple individual interviews (N = 27) with young adults with AS, family members, teachers, and rehabilitation counselors. Social skills, communication, and executive functioning challenges in high school continued into postsecondary education settings. Across cases, five reoccurring themes seemed to influence the transition from high school to postsecondary education: (a) motivation to attend college, (b) high levels of disability awareness, (c) intentional family supports, (d) coordinated transition planning, and (e) clear postschool goals.
Researchers have proposed that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized, at least in part, by executive function (EF) difficulties associated with the integrity of the frontal lobe. Given the paucity of research regarding EFs in young adults with high functioning ASD (HF-ASD), this research involves an examination of various indices of EF related to inhibition, planning, and generativity. Results indicate that although young adults with HF-ASD as a group met normative expectations on all measures of EF, they also exhibited considerable individual variability relative to their age- and sex-matched typically developing peers. These findings have important research and clinical implications, including the need to carefully consider the impact of the research comparison group, and to recognize individual variability in executive functioning among young adults with HF-ASD.
This study investigated the effects of a modified system of least prompts and an electronic story-mapping intervention for elementary students with autism spectrum disorder. Participants were first taught to identify story element definitions using constant time delay. Participants then listened to age-appropriate narrative texts with a problem–solution structure, completed an electronic story map, and orally answered questions related to the story elements. If unable to complete the map or answer questions, a system of least prompts was used that redirected the students to use provided supports and provided rereads of portions of the text. A multiple probe across participants design was used to examine the effects of the intervention. Outcomes indicated the intervention was effective for teaching story element definitions, labeling of the story element map on an iPad, and comprehension of story element questions. The limitations of the study as well as implications for future research and practice are discussed.
There are many unmet needs among parents of children with autism for parent respite and social time for their children. The use of undergraduate student volunteers is a potential strategy for meeting some of these needs. Separate focus groups for parents and for undergraduates were convened to assess feasibility, comfort, reservations, and mutual interest in this approach. Both parents and students identified common ground over undergraduate volunteer services, and described the boundaries of participation within which they felt comfortable. Findings suggest that student-provided respite care is a feasible support for parents raising children with autism and for students seeking volunteer and career-orientation experiences.
The current study investigated the parent–child relationship by examining associations between parent stress, parental discipline strategies, child disruptive behavior problems, and level of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms. A sample of 130 parents of children with ASD ages 3 to 11 years participated. Parents reported high levels of parent stress and high levels of child disruptive behavior problems. A series of mediation analyses via bootstrapping were used to examine the development of child disruptive behavior. Use of harsh and punitive parental discipline strategies mediated the link between parent stress and child disruptive behavior problems. These findings suggest that parental discipline strategies should be a central target in prevention and treatment interventions for children with ASD to reduce the emergence of child disruptive behavior problems. Reducing challenging behavior in children with ASD may improve the rate of skill acquisition and improve the parent–child relationship. Future directions for research along with clinical implications for families are discussed.
An adapted alternating treatments design was used to compare the efficacy of echoic and textual prompts to teach three students with autism (ages 8–15) to ask questions related to two pre-selected topics of conversation. Participants were first required to answer questions related to the topics to determine whether accurate responses were within their repertoire. This was followed by a transfer of stimulus control procedure to teach participants to ask relevant questions to the experimenter on the same topics. Probes with a novel conversation topic were conducted in the natural environment with a peer, and follow-up probes were conducted after training. Results indicate questions taught using an echoic prompt were acquired in fewer trials to criterion than questions taught using a textual prompt for two of the three participants. Limitations and implications for future research will be discussed.
This study investigated the effects of tact prompts on the acquisition and retention of divergent intraverbal responding to categorical questions involving conditional discriminations. A 6-year-old boy with autism participated in the study. A multiple probe design across behaviors was used. A tact-prompt procedure was implemented. The results suggested that the tact-prompt procedure was effective to establish and increase the number of divergent intraverbal responses to questions across two categories. The child spontaneously emitted novel responses during training and generalization probe sessions, indicating occurrences of response generalization after divergent intraverbal training. Maintenance probes showed that divergent intraverbal responses were maintained at high levels for all target categorical questions 3 weeks after the completion of training.
There has been a slight increase in the number of studies focused on the strategies used to introduce content-based instruction to students with moderate/severe disability. However, interventions for students with significant intellectual disability (ID) are lacking adapted materials to make instruction available in all major academic areas including social studies. This multiple baseline study examined the effects of adapted videos for improving factual comprehension of non-fiction clips by four high school students with significant ID. Video adaptations included picture/word-based closed captions and interactive video searching for answers. According to the visual analyses, students performed better with adapted and interactive video clips. Furthermore, social validity interviews revealed that all students enjoyed the adapted and interactive videos and found them beneficial. Limitations and directions for future research in the area of adapted and interactive video instruction are discussed.
Individuals with high functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently experience obsessions and/or compulsions that are similar to those specified in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5) criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, little research exists on effective interventions for OCD-like behaviors (referred to as OCBs) in ASD. In a preliminary randomized controlled trial (RCT; N = 14), a manualized function-based cognitive-behavior therapy (Fb-CBT) consisting of traditional CBT components (psychoeducation and mapping, cognitive-behavioral skills training, exposure, and response prevention) as well as function-based behavioral assessment and intervention significantly decreased OCBs in 8- to 12-year-old children with ASD at post-treatment and 5-month follow-up. This multi-component treatment shows considerable promise, and a larger RCT is needed to further validate and expand these findings.
Parents report that the process of getting an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis is arduous, lengthy, and fraught with difficulties. This analysis of the Pathways survey data set examined the experiences of parents who said, at the time of the survey, that their child currently had ASD compared with parents who said, at the time of the survey, that their child currently had some other developmental disability. Despite substantially earlier parental concerns about their child’s development, the ASD group (n = 1,420) received their current diagnosis about 7 months later (M age at diagnosis = 62.8 months, SE = 1.62) on average, than did children in the group diagnosed with other developmental delay (n = 2,098, M age at diagnosis = 55.4 months, SE = 2.13). Parents in the "Current ASD" group were more likely to report that the health professional said nothing was wrong or that the child might "grow out of it," emphasizing a common parental complaint. Continued efforts to improve parents’ experience of the diagnostic process are warranted.
This study reports data comparing Five Factor Model (FFM) facets with the Inventory of Children’s Individual Differences–Short Form (ICID-S) in children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during middle childhood with same-age typically developing children. Two (ASD vs. Typical) x 2 (Sex) age-controlled MANCOVAs were performed: (a) ASD versus a contemporaneous comparison group and (b) ASD versus a norming data subset. Significant gender interactions are reported for the Agreeableness, Neuroticism, and Extraversion facets. Most FFM facets in the ASD group were reliable, and group differences in both analyses were consistent with the broader ASD literature. Contemporary and normative analyses resulted in very similar significant differences and effect sizes.
Studies comparing mathematical abilities of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing children are hitherto scarce, inconclusive, and mainly focusing on elementary school children or adolescents. The present study wants to gain insight into the foundation of mathematics by looking at preschool performances. Five early numerical competencies known to be important for mathematical development were examined: verbal subitizing, counting, magnitude comparison, estimation, and arithmetic operations. These competencies were studied in 20 high-functioning children with ASD and 20 age-matched control children aged 4 and 5 years. Our data revealed similar early number processing in children with and without ASD at preschool age, meaning that both groups did not differ on the foundation of mathematics development. Given the pervasiveness and the family impact of the condition of ASD, this is an important positive message for parents and preschool teachers. Implications and several directions for future research are proposed.
Previous studies suggest that individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely than other disability groups and the general population to gravitate toward science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. However, the field knows little about which factors influence the STEM pipeline between high school and postsecondary STEM major. This study analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study–2, a nationally representative sample of students with an ASD in special education in the United States. Findings suggest that students with an ASD who took more classes in advanced math in a general education setting were more likely to declare a STEM major after controlling for background characteristics and previous achievement level. Educational policy implications are discussed.
The role of culture in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has been too often neglected in research. The present study evaluated the implications of cultural factors for ASD screening and diagnosis by examining the parenting perceptions and diagnostic experiences of Latina and White mothers of children with ASD. The children of Latina mothers were diagnosed significantly later and were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with autism than with another ASD. Latina mothers demonstrated significantly less knowledge of developmental milestones and of ASD. Latina mothers were also significantly more likely to report early concerns about temperament. The results of this study suggest that both socioeconomic and culturally based differences likely influence the early perception and diagnosis of ASD.
Within the context of a multiple baseline design, the researchers in this investigation used a constant time delay (CTD) procedure to teach two classroom support personnel (i.e., paraprofessional, peer tutor) to use a simultaneous prompting (SP) procedure when teaching a high school student with a moderate intellectual disability to (a) identify words from science core content, (b) identify words from social studies core content, (c) make Kool-Aid, and (d) alphabetize last names by their first letters. The classroom teacher implemented the CTD procedure with a high degree of fidelity, the paraprofessional and the peer tutor implemented the SP procedure with high levels of fidelity, and the student increased his ability to perform the targeted skills.
The effectiveness of a multicomponent intervention to improve the problem-solving performance of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) during vocational tasks was examined. A multiple-probe across-students design was used to illustrate the effectiveness of point-of-view video modeling paired with practice sessions and a self-operated cue sheet to solve problems encountered during vocational tasks. Following intervention, all students improved performance and generalized problem-solving skills to a second untrained setting. Three of four students maintained performance at a 6-week follow-up. Overall, evidence indicated that students with ASD could learn to engage in problem solving independently following the intervention.
There is currently a limited understanding of adolescent sibling relationships where Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is present. This research gap remains despite preliminary findings suggesting that neurotypically developing (NTD) siblings undertake extra caregiving responsibilities and experience differential treatment from family members. Using a Family Systems approach, this qualitative study investigated NTD adolescent sisters’ roles and responsibilities for their younger adolescent brother with ASD from the perspectives of 11 family members (including NTD sisters, brothers with ASD, mothers, and fathers). Findings indicate the sisters undertook various caregiving roles and responsibilities, particularly at school, which had both positive and negative influences on the family system. Additionally, sisters perceived they undertook unfair household responsibilities, received reduced parental attention, and desired both distance from and engagement with their families. These perceptions varied amongst other family members. Implications of these findings and strategies for best supporting adolescent NTD siblings are discussed.
This study evaluated a parent-delivered social and emotional skills intervention—the Secret Agent Society (SAS) for children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HF-ASD). The study was a pre–post follow-up design with an 8-week baseline period and 6-week follow-up period. Participants were 38 parents and 41 children recruited from regional/rural Queensland and metropolitan Brisbane, Australia. Child participants completed measures of social skills and emotion management, and parents completed measures related to child behavioral problems, parent self-efficacy, child anxiety, and parent emotional distress at pre-intervention, post intervention, and 6-week follow-up. Analyses of outcomes were conducted with a series of repeated-measures MANOVAs and one-way ANOVAs at post intervention and 6-week follow-up. There were significant improvements in child social skills reported by parents with gains maintained at 6-week follow-up with large effect sizes. Parent self-efficacy, child behavior, and child anxiety levels also improved significantly. In addition, outcomes from the SAS self-directed program were compared with the original clinic-based program conducted by Beaumont and Sofronoff. Results indicated greater changes in social skills outcomes in the clinic-based program and no difference between groups on emotional management strategies. The limitations of the study and clinical implications are discussed.
The present study evaluated the effects of the Superheroes Social Skills program, a social skills curriculum for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Previous research has found the curriculum to improve social engagements of children with ASD during unstructured recess periods but has been limited in research design and lack of maintenance data. Five elementary-age participants with current placements in inclusive public school settings were included in the study. A multiple baseline design across participants was used to determine the effects of the intervention on social engagement during unstructured recess periods, as well as teacher ratings of social functioning and sociometric status. Visual and statistical analyses of data indicate increased social engagement of participants during recess periods following introduction of social skills training. Improvements were also observed in teacher ratings of social functioning and sociometric status. Limitations of the current study are also discussed.
This study investigated effects of video modeling (VM) when teaching recreation and leisure skills to three high school students with moderate intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder. Results, evaluated via a multiple probe across participants design, indicated that VM was effective for teaching all students to play the Wii. Students were able to maintain high levels of accuracy in follow-up probes. Study limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
We conducted two separate but related single-case studies using alternating treatment designs to investigate the effects of two single-component reading interventions: question development and anaphoric cueing. In each study, we compared a typical intervention approach (Study 1, question development; Study 2, anaphoric cueing) with an alternate approach that included the addition of applied behavior analysis (ABA) techniques. The treatments that included ABA techniques were designed to improve the performance of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) on curriculum-based measures (CBM) of reading and on-task behavior measures during the reading tasks. The ABA techniques included the use of visual supports, a token economy, and the use of readings based on the perseverative interests of students. Four students in Grades 3 to 5 identified with ASD participated—two students in each study. Study 1 evaluated the relative effects of question development plus ABA compared with question development on CBM reading probes and an on-task behavior measure for two students. Study 2 evaluated the relative effects of anaphoric cueing plus ABA compared with anaphoric cueing on CBM reading probes and an on-task behavior measure for two students. The results indicated that the treatments that included ABA techniques were more effective than treatments that did not include ABA. These data support the use of ABA techniques for the enhancement of question development and anaphoric cueing as a means to improve reading comprehension and on-task behavior for students with ASD.
The objectives of this study were (a) to evaluate parental stress in parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD group) and compare it with the stress in parents of children with typical development (comparison group); (b) to study the relationship between parental stress, autism severity, and both verbal and performance IQ; and (c) to study the relationship between parental stress and resilience. Parental stress in the ASD group was clinically significant and higher than in the comparison group. The child’s autism severity was a significant predictor of parental stress related to the child’s distractibility and hyperactivity. The child’s verbal IQ was a significant predictor of parental stress in the child domain. Only for the ASD group, the child’s performance IQ was a significant predictor of parental stress, and parental resilience was a significant predictor of parental stress related to depression and competence variables. These results and implications for intervention are discussed.
Evidence is accumulating that early intervention can be effective in improving the skills of young children with autism spectrum disorder. However, the science is hampered by the lack of agreed "gold standard" tools for the measurement of progress and outcome. What is required is a reliable, valid, and sensitive measure of change in the core domains of autism, which can be undertaken blind to group and time. This article explores the use of a promising measure of change, for which reliability, validity, and sensitivity to change over a lengthy period have been previously demonstrated. Pilot data indicate that, despite some sensitivity to change over a short period of time, it does not capture treatment effects more effectively than an existing diagnostic tool. Future directions for the ongoing search are suggested, including consideration of how to achieve sensitivity to differential change as well as to change over time.
Students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience peer conflict and social challenges, which likely relate to compounded characteristics of both the child with ASD and his or her peers. However, few studies have experimentally investigated these associations to inform prevention and intervention efforts. The present study used social networking blogs to examine how middle school students’ attitudes toward a fictional peer with ASD, Charlie, vary according to whether Charlie was (a) physically included with typically developing peers and (b) socially accepted. Participants expressed less favorable attitudes when Charlie was socially excluded by his peers, regardless of whether his peers had disabilities. More favorable attitudes were associated with participant popularity, previous exposure to ASD, younger age, and being female. Charlie’s ASD status was associated with more negative anticipated peer attitudes. These results indicate that facilitating positive, public social experiences of students with ASD may promote positive attitudes and social acceptance by peers.
Through an online survey, 83 parents of individuals aged 21 and below diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) rated available ASD treatments for perceived effectiveness and scientific validity. Parental awareness of evidence-based treatments was assessed and compared with the National Standards Report (NSR). Parents were also asked to identify information sources used when selecting treatments and to rate the efficacy of treatments utilized for their children. Results showed that parents identified "professional advice" as the most influential source in helping decide which ASD treatments to utilize with their child(ren). A majority of parents agreed with the NSR for only 9 out of 26 identified treatments. There was no strong agreement among the parents with regard to their independent ratings of intervention efficacy and scientific validity. More than 35% of the parents listed interventions that were not part of the NSR consensus.
The purpose of this pilot study was to determine if participation in an aquatic exercise program improves sleep in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Participants included 8 children. An A-B-A withdrawal design was utilized. Each phase lasted for 4 weeks. The treatment included 60 min of aquatic exercise 2X/week. Phone calls to parents of the participants were made throughout the duration of the study. Parents were asked questions related to sleep latency, nighttime wakenings, and sleep duration. A one way repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was utilized to determine if differences existed between phases. Statistically significant difference existed for sleep latency (p < .001) and sleep duration (p < .001). These results suggest that participation in aquatic exercise may improve the sleep habits of children with ASD.
Young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related social-communication delays may display difficulties commenting on actions that occur in their natural environment. One method for increasing early conversation skills is direct instruction. Using video examples of actions may increase the salient features of instructional targets and, as such, may be an effective stimulus for presenting actions during instruction. The present study used a multiple-probe design across participants replicated across behaviors to evaluate the effectiveness of a 0- to 4-s progressive time-delay (PTD) procedure using video presentation of actions to teach three preschool-aged children with ASD and related social-communication delays to label actions. In addition, the teacher provided language expansion on all instructional targets, as well as assessed generalization to novel stimuli (videos and pictures or photographs). Results indicate that all participants acquired action labels. Two of the three participants generalized responses to novel videos and pictures while expanding their responses without direct instruction. Implications for teachers targeting action labels in early childhood settings are provided.
One hundred nine people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS), and Stress Survey Schedule (SSS). Compared with Australian norms for DASS depression, anxiety, and stress, both males and females with ASD showed elevated scores. Females aged 25 to 44 years scored significantly higher on the DASS depression subscale than same aged males and younger males and females. Significant gender and age differences were evident on SSS subscales. In comparison with males, females were more stressed on Pleasant Events, Sensory/Personal Contact, and Social and Environmental subscales, and adult females in particular were more stressed on items around Change and Social Threats and Anticipation/Uncertainty. Young people were less stressed on seven of the eight SSS subscales than older people. It appears that emotional vulnerability in people with ASD varies according to gender and age, with adult females at particular risk.
A large body of work has been done on the deficient conversation skills in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), yet little is known about their performance in other discourse types such as persuasion. The study investigated the persuasion skills in Chinese children with high-functioning ASD. Ten school-age Chinese children with ASD were gender, age, and language matched with 10 typically developing (TD) peers. Persuasion was evaluated via a role-play and a direct temptation task in terms of the participants’ persistence and the persuasive strategies used. Results showed no difference in persistence between the two groups. The TD group performed significantly better in their persuasive strategies used. A significant main effect of task was observed where children in both groups performed better in the role-play than the direct temptation task. The present findings provide an account of why children with high-functioning ASD often experience unsuccessful persuasion outcomes in real-life situations.
Children with autism have deficits in social communication and may engage in less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) than children without disabilities. In this study, a classroom teacher implemented two interventions in the context of an alternating treatments design. Physical activity, engagement, and social behaviors were monitored for two young children with autism spectrum disorders. Data show that engagement and social behaviors increased during a structured choice (SC) intervention condition. MVPA was variable within and across conditions, but appropriate physical activity (e.g., physical activity that was associated with engagement) was highest during the SC condition. A final condition during which the teacher prompted movement showed minimally higher physical activity with sustained social and engagement behaviors.
This research investigated the self-reported mainstream school experiences of those diagnosed on the autistic spectrum compared with the typically developing school population. Existing literature identifies four key areas that affect the quality of the school experience for students with autism: social skills, perceived relationships with teaching staff, general school functioning, and interpersonal strengths of the young person. These areas were explored in a mainstream U.K. secondary school with 14 students with autism and 14 age and gender matched students without autism, using self-report questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Quantitative analyses showed consistent school experiences for both groups, although content analysis of interview data highlighted some differences in the ways in which the groups perceive group work, peers, and teaching staff within school. Implications for school inclusion are discussed, drawing attention to how staff awareness of autism could improve school experience and success for students with autism attending mainstream schools.
Two students with developmental disabilities were taught two daily living skills using video prompting with error correction presented on an iPod Touch, and two different fading procedures were implemented. In one fading procedure, individual video clips were merged into multiple larger clips following acquisition of the entire skill. In the second fading procedure, video clips were backward "chunked" during the intervention as individual steps were mastered. A multiple probe across participants design within a reversal design was used. Results showed that video prompting with error correction was effective in teaching both daily living skills. Furthermore, fading the video prompts during the intervention resulted in more rapid learning and higher maintenance and generalization effects than fading after acquisition.
The frequent co-occurrence of anxiety disorders and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in youth has spurred study of intervention practices for this population. As anxiety disorders in the absence of ASD are effectively treated using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) protocols, an initial step in evaluating treatments for comorbid youth has necessarily centered on adaptation of CBT. One primary limitation of this research, to date, is that interventions for adolescents with anxiety disorders and ASD have not been systematically tested. In this study, 20 adolescents (90% male) with ASD and a comorbid anxiety disorder, between ages 11 and 14 years (M = 12.2 years, SD = 1.11 years), participated in an open trial of modified CBT targeting anxiety with ASD. Findings demonstrated significant reductions in anxiety severity, as assessed by clinician and parent ratings, from baseline to post-treatment. In addition, reductions in parent-rated externalizing symptoms were observed. Gains were maintained at a 1-month follow-up.
Many children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit difficulties with complex language and social communication. Direct Instruction (DI) is an empirically supported curriculum designed to teach complex language skills to children with and at risk of learning disabilities. Only recently, the effectiveness of DI has been evaluated among children with autism. The present study evaluated the effectiveness of the DI Language for Learning curriculum among 18 children diagnosed with ASD. Immediate post-intervention language scores on curriculum post-tests were significantly higher than pre-intervention scores and remained significantly higher than pre-intervention scores up to 6 to 8 months following the intervention. Comparing language skills across groups, children already exposed to the intervention exhibited significantly higher language skills than their non-exposed waitlist counterparts.
Despite the stated importance of a successful kindergarten transition (TTK) for future school success, no research has addressed this transition for culturally/ethnically diverse families having children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). To address this gap, six focus groups (three with ethnically diverse parents, one with kindergarten teachers, and one each with early childhood resource teachers and early intervention providers) were conducted to elicit the experiences of these stakeholders regarding TTK for children with ASD generally, and the TTK experience for ethnically diverse families specifically. Four major themes relating to TTK emerged from the focus groups: Relationship Building, Communication, Knowledge, and Support. While these themes were relevant for all groups, parents who were relatively recent immigrants and for whom English was not a first language identified unique difficulties. Results are discussed within the context of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory. Recommendations to improve the experience for ethnically diverse families are explored.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of four high school–aged students with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and moderate intellectual disability to generalize performance of skills when using materials different from those presented through video models. An adapted alternating treatments design was used to evaluate student performance when using materials depicted directly in the custom-made video programs compared with materials different from those depicted in the custom-made video programs. Results indicated that overall, students committed more errors and required more sessions to reach criteria when using the generalized materials; however, three of the four students completed tasks under Comparisons 1 and 2 with 100% accuracy when using materials that differed from those in the video model.
This study complements current research on quality of life for individuals with autism and cognitive impairments, by focusing less on objective measures (e.g., employment status, educational attainment, living arrangements) and more on subjective measures such as satisfaction levels. Twenty-three structured interviews were conducted with parents, and qualitative analysis of emergent themes is provided. In spite of limited independence on the part of young adults with autism spectrum disorders and cognitive impairments in terms of both home and community life, satisfaction levels were high across all domains and most parents ranked their children’s overall quality of life as "excellent" or "good."
For parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who have given their time and commitment to complete an education and have gained employment in a professional field, a career disruption can have profound effects. A qualitative methodology was used to answer the two research questions that anchored this study: (a) What is the impact of career disruption on career-oriented parents who transition to being the primary caregiver for a child with ASD? and (b) How do parents who become the primary caregivers cope with the disruption, delay, or forfeiture of their professional careers? Parent participants identified three phases: (a) the career disruption process, (b) the impact of career loss, and (c) the transition to personal significance. Discussion focuses on the impact of career disruption and the necessity of service providers to recognize and embrace the importance of parental advocacy.
Independence is the ultimate goal for students with disabilities, including secondary students with autism. One avenue targeted for increasing independence and decreasing prompt-dependency is through self-monitoring. In this study, investigators sought to determine whether a difference exists in levels of task independence when three students with autism complete food preparation tasks while self-monitoring using a low-tech treatment (paper/pencil) and high-tech treatment (iPad). Although both interventions decreased the need for prompting thereby increasing independence, students needed less assistance when using the iPad. Students also maintained their levels of independence in food preparation following summer vacation. Social validity interviews indicated students preferred self-monitoring with the iPad over the paper/pencil.
Because of the importance of contextual sensitivity in several cognitive processes that are affected in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such as social cognition, understanding of language, or cognitive shifting, we argue that a lack of contextual sensitivity or "context blindness" should be given more attention in a neurocognitive account of ASD. Context blindness emphasizes an aspect of the central coherence hypothesis developed by Uta Frith that has been largely overlooked in both literature and scientific research, namely, the ability to use context in sense making. In this article, we will define context blindness, describe how it can explain some of the cognitive and behavioral characteristics of ASD, and explore its relationship with the other neurocognitive theories of ASD (theory of mind, empathizing–systemizing, and executive function).
Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) is a popular treatment for Pervasive Developmental Disorders that involves therapists using various strategies and manipulanda to provide sensory stimulation to improve behavioral dysfunctions. Although SIT is popular, the research literature demonstrates little experimental proof of effectiveness. Many published studies find little to no causal relationship between SIT and improvements in target behaviors. There are numerous internal and external validity threats that preclude confidence in a functional relationship for those studies that report positive changes. The current study attempted to evaluate the impact of different SIT techniques on the behavioral excesses of children diagnosed with autism, while using research designs that adhered to commonly accepted standards for internal and external validity controls. The results showed that there was no causal relationship between the sensory procedures and improvements in the targeted dependent variables. Thus, SIT remains an unproven treatment for autism.
The present study provides a preliminary evaluation of the effects of the Superheroes Social Skills program, a practice-ready, multimedia social skills program, on social engagements of elementary-age children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Four children with ASD between the ages of 8 and 10 with current placements in inclusive public school settings participated in an 8-week intervention utilizing the intermediate skill components of the Superheroes Social Skills program. The intervention was presented once per week for approximately 30 min in the school settings. Analysis of data suggests that social engagements of participants during generalized recess periods increased following the introduction of intervention. Data on frequency of initiations and responses, as well as sociometric outcomes, were also collected as a secondary dependent variable and are discussed. Results suggest that pullout social skills training may result in effects that are generalized to more naturalistic settings. Limitations of the current study and suggestions for future research are reviewed.
This community effectiveness trial examined the feasibility and efficacy of a comprehensive psychosocial treatment for 28 children, aged 7 to 10 years with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASDs). Treatment included instruction and therapeutic activities targeting social skills, face-emotion recognition skills, interest expansion, and interpretation of non-literal language skills. A behavioral program was instituted to foster skills acquisition and reduce ASD symptoms and problem behaviors. Feasibility was supported in high levels of fidelity and satisfaction. Significant improvements were found for the children’s non-literal language skills and parent ratings of target social and communicative skills, broader social performance, and ASD symptoms. Secondary staff ratings corroborated parent ratings. Results suggest that the treatment, when administered by a community agency, was feasible and yielded positive outcomes similar to prior randomized clinical trials (RCTs).
Repetitive behavior is a hallmark feature of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and can have adverse consequences related to social stigma and low rates of skill acquisition. Basic research suggests that variability, or the extent to which one response differs from previous responses, is amenable to antecedent and consequence manipulations. This article describes the concept of variability, synthesizes the findings of 14 recent studies on interventions to increase the variability of behavior in individuals with ASD, and proposes preliminary guidelines for practitioners that focus on building response repertoires, implementing contingencies to produce and maintain variability, and incorporating prompts to vary responding.
Despite growing knowledge of the effectiveness of various interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), it is never clear whether a particular intervention will be effective for a specific child with ASD. Careful monitoring of an individual child’s progress is necessary to know whether an intervention is effective. In this review, we examined intervention research studies focused on children with ASD in Grades K–12 that involve parents, teachers, and other school staff as data collectors. We describe the strategies that have been used in the 40 identified research studies to monitor progress in the areas of behavior and social communication. The results highlight monitoring strategies that may be helpful for parents and teachers to apply, and the discussion provides related suggestions to guide future research and practice.
This article provides direction for educational decision making specifically for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who have the cognitive and adaptive capabilities required to pursue postsecondary college education. The purpose is to draw attention to the available postsecondary pathways, 2- and 4-year college options, by addressing important issues for college-bound young adults with ASD. These include living supports, practical skills, social supports, and educational accommodations. Furthermore, the role of educational and faculty supports is emphasized, as this is an area that has received little research attention.
The current study examined the relation between parental expressed emotion, a construct of the quality and amount of emotion expressed within the family environment that is a well-established predictor of symptom relapse in various psychological disorders, with externalizing behaviors in children and adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Participants were 111 parents of 6- to 18-year-old children and adolescents with an ASD who completed questionnaires measuring family environment variables (including parental expressed emotion, parental distress, and parenting practices), as well as assessing their child’s autism symptoms and emotional and behavioral functioning. Results of regression analyses indicated that parental expressed emotion, specifically criticism/hostility, accounted for 18.7% of the variance in child externalizing behaviors beyond that accounted for by demographic control variables, overinvolvement, parental distress, and parenting practices. Findings highlight a possible point of intervention for parents of children and adolescents with an ASD with concomitant externalizing behaviors.
With the increasing number of students with Asperger syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism (HFA) enrolling in college, it has become apparent that support services are greatly needed to assist these students in navigating college life, both academically and socially. Yet, there is a dearth of research describing the specific supports needed for this population. This exploratory study sought to determine the current support practices offered on college and university campuses for students with AS. A critical focus of this study was on the specific accommodations accessed and the support services provided, including support groups, counseling, supervised social activities, and summer transition programs. Both supports that were found to be helpful and not helpful are provided. In addition, recommendations for implementing support programs are provided.
Current large-scale assessment and accountability policies in the United States emphasize the need for all students to be appropriately included. However, there are many challenges to effective inclusion. Students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit unique social communication and behavior challenges that can hinder their effective inclusion in instruction and testing. However, no studies have systematically examined how this unique group of students is currently included in accountability programs. A statewide representative sample of 191 teachers selected a student with ASD and reported on (a) the extent to which the student received instruction according to the general curriculum, (b) the teacher’s academic expectations for the student, and (c) the method by which the student participated in accountability testing. Results indicated that many students were reported to rarely receive instruction according to the general curriculum, and many were reported to participate in an alternate assessment.
Preparing teachers to implement evidence-based practices for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a pressing need. We surveyed 456 teachers and administrators in a southern state about professional development related to educating students with ASD. Specifically, we were interested in confidence in implementation of evidence-based practices, interest in accessing training on these topics, perceived benefit of different avenues of professional development, and interest in accessing these avenues. Overall, teachers were not very confident in their ability to implement evidence-based practices and address important issues for students with ASD. Surprisingly, lower confidence was not related to increased interest in training. In addition, teachers and administrators perceived workshops to be a more beneficial and attractive avenue of professional development compared with coaching, despite empirical evidence to the contrary. We offer possible explanations for these findings and share implications for administrators, technical assistance providers, and policy makers who make decisions about professional development opportunities.
The study examined teasing experiences among 74 individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; M age = 115.7 months [9.6 years]; 83.8% male). Experiences were examined from parent, teacher, and child’s own perspectives. Factors potentially associated with being teased were investigated. Comparison data were ascertained on typically developing siblings (n = 68; M age = 116.5 months [9.7 years]; 52.9% male). Select items on the Child Behavior Checklist 6–18 and the Teacher Report Form 6–18 were utilized to calculate the prevalence of being teased; qualitative data from a subgroup of verbally fluent children with ASD (n = 50) were analyzed to provide child self-report teasing data. Children with ASD were more likely to be teased than their typically developing siblings. Characteristics that were significantly associated with being teased included higher cognitive functioning, less severe ASD symptomatology, and more time spent in inclusive educational settings. Clinical implications are discussed.
Due to the numerous interventions available for children with autism, parents are faced with challenging decisions regarding treatments from the time of diagnosis and throughout their child’s life. This exploratory qualitative study investigated the reasons behind parents’ decisions about interventions for their child with autism. In-depth interviews were conducted with 23 parents from 18 families making decisions for 19 young children to understand their perspectives on deciding a philosophical approach, choosing a preschool program, and/or deciding on alternative treatments. Children had a diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified or autistic disorder and were below the age of 7 years. Parents’ considerations were categorized into the themes of parental, child, and program attributes. Recommendations were made regarding areas to explore with families to provide support as they weigh the numerous options available. Recommendations for policy changes that could improve diagnostic and treatment services for children with autism and their families were discussed.
One of the challenges in supporting young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in inclusive classrooms is the generalization of improved social behaviors. Using a multiple-baseline design across participants, this study examined the generalized effects of social script training alone and combined with peer buddies on the interactive play of three children with ASD to play settings in inclusive classrooms where the training was not in effect. Social script training alone increased the interactive play of children with ASD when the intervention was in place, but did not generalize to another play setting when social script training was not being conducted. The addition of peer buddies combined with social script training produced a generalized increase in peer interaction to play settings in inclusive classrooms when theme-related play materials and adult assistance were unavailable. Implications of these results for inclusion of young children with ASD are discussed.
Quality of life (QoL) for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and factors associated with QoL are not well understood. Prior literature has relied on parent-report though this is changing. It may be important to consider both parent-reported QoL and self-report. This study explored QoL in 22 Canadian adolescents (3 girls, 19 boys) ages 13 to 18 years (M = 15.2 years). Adolescents completed the 10 subscales of the KIDSCREEN-52, a standardized questionnaire, while their parents completed the proxy form of the measure and the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System–II. Both parents and adolescents reported mean QoL scores in the lower average range. Intra-class correlation coefficients between parent and self-report were similar to adolescents without special needs except for four subscales. Correlations between QoL and the General Adaptive Composite score were remarkably low. Adolescents with ASD respond differently from their parents in some areas and both reports should be considered.
This preliminary investigation examined the relationship between poverty level and parental awareness of evidence-based interventions in urban African American parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Based on responses to a survey, more parents above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) reported awareness of the interventions than parents who were below the FPL. Similarly, poverty level was related to parental awareness of the educational and therapeutic services their child received.
This pilot study investigated the feasibility and effectiveness of a home-based parent training and coaching program on the use of naturalistic and visual teaching strategies by parents of children (aged 2–5 years) with Down syndrome to promote and enhance these children’s social-pragmatic communication skills. Five parent interventionist–child dyads participated. A single-case multiple-baseline design demonstrated the feasibility and effectiveness of the parent training and coaching program on parents’ correct use of naturalistic and visual teaching strategies. Findings suggest that parents and children benefited from the intervention. Parents learned the new teaching strategies, implemented them with high fidelity, and were satisfied with intervention procedures and outcomes. In addition, parents reported improvement in their children’s social-pragmatic communication skills. Implications for practice and future research are described.
Evidence-based treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are comprised of components that identify therapist behavior necessary to implement the treatment with integrity. Some components are shared across approaches from diverse theoretical backgrounds. One component included in several interventions that has not been researched in isolation is turn taking, or the manner in which the therapist facilitates back-and-forth interaction with the child. The current study used an alternating treatments design to examine the efficacy of four types of turn taking. Six children, ages 30 to 39 months, received behavioral treatment while therapists systematically varied the nature of the turn taking component. Children’s responses were behaviorally scored to examine differences based on turn condition. Consistent patterns of behavior were found across children. Results suggest that the optimal type of turn is dependent on developmental level and target skill. Implications for treatment of ASD and future research directions are discussed.
This study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of a parent education program on decreasing parenting stress and increasing parental confidence and quality of life in parents of Chinese American children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). A pre-, posttest group design was used in this study. A total of nine families of Chinese American children with ASDs participated in a 10-week parent education program (including 10-weekly 120-min group sessions). The findings of this study revealed that after receiving the program, parents of Chinese American children with ASDs showed significant reduction in parenting stress, improvement in parental confidence, and improvement in quality of life in physical health and environment domains.
Self-prompted communication books were used in combination with conversational peer orientation to increase conversational interactions of verbal high school students with autism or autistic-like behavior with their peers without disabilities. Previous investigators have used communication books only with students with autism or intellectual disability with limited or no verbal or reading skills. The six high school participants in this study could read and were verbal. We sought to determine whether the communication books would be accepted by peers without disabilities in general education classrooms or whether the books would stigmatize the students with disabilities. Finally, we assessed the effects of having a peer with a learning disability as the teacher of conversational interaction skills. We interpreted our results to conclude that the communication book package was associated with increased conversational interactions for all participants with their general education peers and that communication books were viewed positively by conversational partners.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are principally characterized by impairments in social functioning. Experimental investigation often is conducted using methods measuring social attention, social cognition, and social communication. In this study, we instead measured interest in social information, making a distinction between basic-level person-centered social information such as physical attributes of people ("human" information) and high-level social information such as hypotheses about mental states, emotion, and relationships ("social" information). Based on content analysis of verbal descriptions of color images, 31 young adults (4 women), aged 17 to 25 years with ASD, and 35 typically developing young adults (8 women), aged 17 to 31 years, devoted similar proportions of their descriptions to human and social topics. Results are interpreted in the context of current calls for more ecologically valid methodology and in relation to other assessments of social processing in ASD.
The number of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) receiving services in public schools is increasing steadily. However, the findings of previous research and recent litigation trends suggest that a notable disconnect persists between school-based services and parental satisfaction. As a means to better understand parental dissatisfaction with educational services, I analyzed presenting issues and outcomes of complaint investigations filed by parents of children with ASD in a midwestern U.S. state. A total of 97 electronic summaries of complaint investigations filed from January 2004 to January 2009 were examined using content analysis to identify the most frequently cited complaint issues, as well as the findings of fact leading to decisions in favor of schools. Common complaint issues included problems with Individualized Education Program content and implementation, parental participation, evaluation and case conference committee procedures, staff qualifications, and behavior/disciplinary procedures. Implications of the findings for educators, parents, and future research are discussed.
The increased attention given to the implementation of personnel preparation programs in the field of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has directly paralleled the significant increase in the number of students identified with ASD. For this study, we sought to analyze key aspects of programs for professionals who work with students with ASD. In addition to a detailed analysis of multiple demographic characteristics related to these programs (e.g., length of time program offered, level of higher education at which the program is offered, number of courses within a program, field experiences, online options), a critical focus in the research was assessing the reliance on evidence-based practices by these training programs. We also examined characteristics and practices relevant to the training of behavior analysts through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) approved coursework.
Deferred imitation and early social communication skills were compared among speaking and nonspeaking children with autism and children developing typically. Overall, the children with autism showed a lower frequency on measures of deferred imitation and social communication compared with typically developing children. Deferred imitation was observed at a significantly lower level among the speaking and nonspeaking groups of children with autism. However, when comparing the speaking autism group with the typical group, many differences in observed social communication disappeared. These results underscore the importance of considering children’s verbal ability in autism research and clinical practice, and indicate that there are specific difficulties in deferred imitation in autism but that the social communication deficits that are observed are greatly influenced by low level of verbal ability.
The effects of training and supervision on instructor knowledge and performance of discrete trial teaching (DTT) within three domains (DTT Technical Skills; Work Session Preparation/Conclusion; and Student Engagement/Management) were examined in this study. Eight undergraduate student instructors received an 8-hr training in DTT and support skills accompanied by a pre- and post-test of knowledge. The instructors then taught a variety of skills to six students with autism in a community-based preschool, where instructor competence was tracked and performance feedback provided using the Discrete Trial Teaching Competency Checklist for Instructors. Competence in all three domains improved over time with performance feedback. However, significant variability was observed within and between instructors, and performance in some areas remained below optimal levels even with regular supervision and performance feedback. Implications for training and supervising instructors to implement DTT with children with autism in community-based settings are discussed.
Video self-modeling (VSM) has been used to teach social skills to children with autism older than 4 years of age. Attempts to use VSM with younger children with disabilities have produced less than favorable results; however, it is unclear whether VSM could be used to promote social initiations by typically developing children. Thirty minutes of staged filming, in which the four typically developing participants were prompted to interact with a peer with autism on the playground and inside during center time, was edited into 2.5- to 3-min clips. Each clip took less than 2 hr to edit. Data were collected on frequency of solitary play, initiations, parallel play, and engaged play and were then analyzed in a multiple-baseline-across-participants single-case design. Visual analysis led to the conclusion that VSM did not affect the typically developing children’s behavior. Limitations of the study and cautions for using VSM with very young children are discussed.