Using a Self-Management Packet to Increase Conversational Skills and Social Fluidity in Teenagers with Asperger's
Authors: Robert L. Koegel, Jane L. Talebi, & Lynn Kern Koegel (In progress)
Abstract: The current study investigates the effects of a self management intervention for social conversation on three teenagers diagnosed with Asperger's. Specifically, the study seeks to discover the effectiveness of a self-management package individually designed for each participant targeting various conversational and/or social skills. Prior to intervention, the participants respectively demonstrated low levels of question-asking and initiating, high levels of perseveration on preferred topics, and difficulty in perceiving when conversational partners had lost interest in their topic. Initial data indicate that implementation of this intervention does significantly increase the participants' ability to initiate with others by asking questions, edit their preferred topics to appropriate lengths for conversation, and appropriately notice other's nonverbal pragmatics and change the conversation topic accordingly.
Reducing Ritualistic Behavior in Children with Autism Using a Transfer Stimulus
Authors: Robert L. Koegel, Jane Talebi, & Lynn Kern Koegel (In progress)
Abstract: The current study investigates the effects of a transfer stimulus on ritualistic behavior in three children with autism. Specifically, the study seeks to discover whether a counting intervention used in conjunction with a competing reinforcer can effectively facilitate a child's transition away from the object of ritualistic interest to another object. Prior to intervention, all three children demonstrated high levels of interest towards the preferred stimulus and little interest in other objects. In addition, all three children showed high levels of disruptive behavior upon leaving the favored object. Initial data indicate that implementation of this intervention does significantly increase a child's ability to transition calmly away from the preferred object to another stimulus. Initial data also show that the effects of the intervention may generalize to other ritualistic behaviors in the child's routine.
Targeting Restricted Interests and Repetitive Behaviors by Increasing Flexibility in Children with Autism and Asperger’s Disorder
Authors: Robert L. Koegel, Ph.D.,Christie Enjey Lin, Lynn K. Koegel, Ph.D. (In progress)
Abstract: The category of restricted interests and repetitive patterns of behaviors (RIRB) is one of the core diagnostic features of Autism and Asperger’s Disorder. These symptoms have been described as a heterogeneous group of behaviors that are ritualistic, invariant and developmentally/socially inappropriate. Despite the variety of RIRB observed across individuals with autism, there appears to be a common underlying thread of inflexibility. RIRB is a significant concern because of the pervasiveness of these symptoms, coinciding disruptive behaviors and research demonstrating less improvement in this area compared to social and communication domains. RIRB has implications for the quality of life of the individual and family. Research indicates that self-management is an effective behavioral intervention to target improvement in a variety of behaviors. This study investigated the implementation of a self-management program to target RIRB by increasing “flexibility.” For this study, flexibility was defined as appropriately varying or adapting behaviors when presented with an opportunity to disengage from a RIRB without displaying disruptive behaviors and continuing to engage in the activity at hand. A non-concurrent multiple baseline across participants research design was implemented. Results demonstrated that self-management increased flexibility and was generalized to a variety of settings and activities.
Modifying Social Conversation Behaviors in Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome Using Video Feedback
Authors: Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D., Whitney Smith & April Regester, Ph.D. (In progress)
Abstract: Young adults with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) display a marked impairment in social interaction and often exhibit difficulty in social conversations with peers. These deficiencies can interfere with the initiation and maintenance of peer relationships. Video feedback has been shown to be an effective technique in teaching social behaviors. We examined the acquisition of social communicative behaviors using video feedback and generalization across peers during social conversation. A multiple baseline across participants design was employed to target question asking in social conversation for each of the 4 participants. Results suggest that video feedback is an effective technique in teaching question asking during social conversation. Results are discussed in terms of advancing intervention techniques to target more complex social goals for the older population with AS.
Modifying Social Behaviors in College Students with Asperger's Syndrome: A Case Study
Authors: Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D. & Whitney Smith (In progress)
Abstract: Young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) often exhibit difficulty building and maintaining social relationships due to core deficits in socialization. Though many report a desire for peer relationships, they also report a higher degree of loneliness and social isolation. As services are often low for this older population with AS, there is a need for empirically-validated interventions targeting more complex social goals. A concurrent multiple baseline design across behaviors was employed for individualized target social behaviors with college students with AS. The intervention included 2 phases targeting, (1) social conversation skills and (2) social integration among the typical college-age population. Results showed that video self-modeling was effective in improving question asking and decreasing fidgeting in social conversations. Structured social planning was effective in increasing the number of weekly social activities the participant engaged in. Results are discussed in terms of moving intervention towards more complex social goals.
Improving Appropriate Conversation with Children with Asperger Disorder Through the use of a Social Conversational Framework
Authors: Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D. & Whitney Ence (In progress)
Abstract: Although children with Asperger’s differ in the manifestation and degree of symptoms, the social problems of Asperger’s are the most troubling, pervasive, and difficult. Social communicative skills play a major role in the success or inability to form relationships that enable individuals to function happily and effectively. Although there is heterogeneity in social communicative profiles of children with AS, there is a suggested pattern of impairments. Within these impairments, children with AS have deficits in their ability to restrict explanations to appropriate amounts of detail and have difficulty using language as a tool for emotional regulation. The purpose of the study is to demonstrate that children with Asperger’s can improve appropriate conversation, by appropriately limiting detail and include an emotional component through the use of a self-management package utilizing a social conversational framework coupled with a visual cue. Using a multiple baseline design, we evaluated if the children were able to improve their appropriate conversation and if the treatment gains would maintain over time and generalize to new conversational partners once the intervention was faded. The data indicate that children with Aspergers can effectively learn to limit their explanations to appropriate amounts of detail and concurrently improve their emotional regulation and treatment gains maintain over time and generalize to new partners through the use of the conversational framework self-management package.
Increasing social engagement in children at risk for developing autism spectrum disorders
Authors: Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D. & Robert L. Koegel, Ph.D. (In progress)
Abstract: One of the most profound deficits in autism spectrum disorders is abnormal social development and decreased affect. These deficits are manifested early on, and are often the first symptoms noted by parents of children with autism. Although research has identified early signs of the disorder within the first year of life, there is little empirical evidence for early interventions during infancy. The purpose of the current study was to examine the efficacy of an early treatment program designed for infants who exhibit deficits in the social domain and who may later develop autism spectrum disorders. A parent education program using the principles of pivotal response treatment (PRT) was developed to encourage early infant-caregiver social interactions. Specifically, parents were taught to identify high affective exchanges with their infant and to reinforce positive social interactions. Preliminary results indicate infant-caregiver social interactions can be dramatically improved in children who exhibit social deficits. These findings are discussed in terms of developing an early socialization model for infants at-risk for developing autism.
Abstract: Increasing numbers of children with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's Syndrome (AS) are being included in a variety of educational institutions. There is a marked need to improve socialization for these children across various settings, particularly recess. Previous studies have shown that adult-facilitated social interactions can lead to increased utterances towards peers and social engagement in free play settings. However, these gains often do not generalize and maintain post-intervention. We hypothesize that failure to generalize is due to the children's lack of initiations skills; i.e. they can play appropriately in an activity that is initiated for them, but do not know how to initiate activities. The first phase of this study is a replication which demonstrates that children with HFA and AS have gains in utterances and social engagement with peers at recess in adult-facilitated settings, but fail to generalize these gains. The second phase tests the effectiveness of initiations training on generalization of these measures. A non-concurrent multiple baseline across participants design was utilized to assess whether adult facilitated games increased social interactions during recess for children with high functioning autism and Asperger's disorder. During Phase I, the children were taught 4-5 age-appropriate games and data was taken on verbal initiations, responsivity to peers, and social engagement. As expected, gains were made in Phase I but children did not generalize these skills to non-adult-facilitated settings. In Phase II, initiations training led to generalized gains in social engagement and utterances towards peers.
Improving socialization between children with Asperger’s disorder and their peers in full-inclusion community and elementary school settings
Authors: Koegel, L. K., Vernon, T.W.,Koegel, R. L., Koegel, B. L., & Paullin, A. W. (Submitted)
Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities
Abstract: Children with Asperger’s Disorder often have difficulty with peer relationships and socialization. The current study assessed whether peer social interactions would improve in school settings if an intervention was designed that incorporated the children with Asperger’s interests. Three children who were fully-included in regular education classes but did not interact with peers prior to intervention participated in this research. Social lunch clubs, which invited typical peers to join, were implemented twice weekly during regular school lunchtime periods. Results showed that all three children increased their time engaged with peers as a result of the clubs. While their initiations greatly improved over baseline levels and approximated their peers, they were often initiating below the level of most of their peers. Implications for improving peer social interactions for children with Asperger’s Disorder are discussed.
Teaching adolescents with Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism to serve as social facilitators in a summer camp setting
Authors: Koegel, R. L., Vernon, T.W., Ence, W. A., Koegel, L. K., & Openden, D.A. (In preparation)
Abstract: As autism intervention research continues to evolve, individuals with Asperger’s syndrome and autism continue to make tremendous strides in terms of autonomous functioning. Individuals are now reaching levels of independence that require a shift to focus research efforts on new areas of concern. Of particular concern and a growing area of research is the development of effective vocational training programs for this population. The purpose of this study was to examine if adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism could be trained to work as social facilitators within a summer day camp setting. Using a multiple baseline design, individuals with ASD were taught using a multi-phase training program designed to increase their ability to effectively supervise, instruct, and facilitate the social interactions between children in a summer camp group. Data were taken on the number and types of initiations the participants made towards the children, time spent on appropriate on-task behavior, and number of initiations the children made towards the participants. The data show that both participants were able to acquire the necessary skills to meet or exceed the data of the typically developing counselors.
Abstract: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) have difficulties interacting socially with peers, especially in unstructured play settings. Generalized peer social engagement and initiations were targeted in two participants (one child with autism and one with Asperger’s Syndrome). In the first phase of the study, social facilitation techniques led to gains during intervention but failed to generalize outside of the intervention sessions. In the second phase, the children were provided with training for play and social initiations training. Following this phase, the children demonstrated generalization in both social engagement and initiations. The results are discussed in terms of the theoretical implications for incorporating initiations into social interventions.
Improving Pragmatics in Children with Autism: The Use of Video Self-Management
Authors: Katherine Levinger, M.A., Rosy Matos-Fredeen, Ph.D.& Robert L. Koegel, Ph.D. (In progress)
Abstract: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder often display difficulties with pragmatics and social conversation. This includes a deficit in appropriate nonverbal pragmatic behavior, particularly when discussing topics not related to their perseverative interests. The current study examines, in the context of a multiple baseline design, the effects of implementing a video self-management intervention to improve nonverbal pragmatic behavior during social conversation on topics other than perseverative interests. Results indicate that the intervention was associated with increased percentages of appropriate nonverbal pragmatic behavior, while maintaining or increasing on topic-responding during social conversation. Improvements generalized to other conversational partners and maintained at follow-up. The results are discussed in relation to long term outcomes.