, Volume 39, Issue 9, pp 1240-1251,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 09 Apr 2009

Improving Social Initiations in Young Children with Autism Using Reinforcers with Embedded Social Interactions

Abstract

Children with autism often exhibit low levels of social engagement, decreased levels of eye contact, and low social affect. However, both the literature and our direct clinical observations suggest that some components of intervention procedures may result in improvement in child-initiated social areas. Using an ABAB research design with three children with autism, this study systematically assessed whether embedding social interactions into reinforcers, delivered during language intervention, would lead to increased levels of child-initiated social behaviors. We compared this condition with a language intervention condition that did not embed social interactions into the reinforcers. Results indicated that embedding social interactions into the reinforcers resulted in increases in child-initiated social engagement during communication, improved nonverbal dyadic orienting, and improvements in general child affect. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.