Setting generality of peer modeling in children with autism

  • Edward G. Carr
  • Michael Darcy


Behavior development in normal children is greatly facilitated by peer modeling. Unfortunately, autistic children do not typically imitate their normal peers. The present study was undertaken to identify variables that facilitate the acquisition of peer imitation and promote setting generality of imitative skills once they have been acquired. We selected a common preschool activity (Follow-the-Leader) as the vehicle for studying modeling effects. Four preschool children with autism took part in an intervention in which a normal peer demonstrated and, if necessary, physically prompted a variety of actions and object manipulations that defined the activity. Following training, all four children generalized their imitative skill to a new setting involving new actions and object manipulations. Results are discussed with respect to the potentially important role that the use of multiple training objects and/or responses play in enhancing attention to the model and facilitating setting generality as well as the role that intrinsically reinforcing activities may play in maintaining acquired peer imitation.


School Psychology Preschool Child Normal Child Autistic Child Object Manipulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blew, P. A., Schwartz, I. S., & Luce, S. C. (1985). Teaching functional community skills to autistic children using nonhandicapped peer tutors.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18, 337–342.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Canale, J. R. (1977). The effect of modeling and length of ownership on sharing behavior of children.Social Behavior and Personality, 5, 187–191.Google Scholar
  3. Carr, E. G., & Kologinsky, E. (1983). Acquisition of sign language by autistic children: II. Spontaneity and generalization effects.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 16, 297–314.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Charlop, M. H., Schreibman, L., & Tryon, A. S. (1983). Learning through observation: The effects of peer modeling on acquisition and generalization in autistic children.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 11, 355–366.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Charlop, M. H., & Walsh, M. E. (1986). Increasing autistic children's spontaneous verbalizations of affection: An assessment of time delay and peer modeling procedures.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 19, 307–314.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Coleman, S. L., & Stedman, J. M. (1974). Use of a peer model in language training in an echolalic child.Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 5, 275–279.Google Scholar
  7. Egel, A. L., Richman, G. S., & Koegel, R. L. (1981). Normal peer models and autistic children's learning.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 14, 3–12.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Geshuri, Y. (1972). Observational learning: Effects of observed reward and response patterns.Journal of Educational Psychology, 63, 374–380.Google Scholar
  9. Grusec, J. E., & Abramovitch, R. (1982). Imitation of peers and adults in a natural setting: A functional analysis.Child Development, 53, 636–642.Google Scholar
  10. Ihrig, K., & Wolchik, S. A. (1988). Peer versus adult models in autistic children's learning: Acquisition, generalization, and maintenance.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 18, 61–19.Google Scholar
  11. Kazdin, A. E., (1973). The effect of vicarious reinforcement on attentive behavior in the classroom.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 6, 71–78.Google Scholar
  12. Lancioni, G. E. (1982). Normal children as tutors to teach social responses to withdrawn mentally retarded schoolmates: Training, maintenance, and generalization.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 15, 17–40.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Lovaas, O. I. (1981).Teaching developmentally disabled children. Baltimore: University Park Press.Google Scholar
  14. Lovaas, O. I., Berberich, J. P., Perloff, B. F., & Schaeffer, B. (1966). Acquisition of imitative speech by schizophrenic children.Science, 151, 705–707.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Lovaas, O. I., Freitas, L., Nelson, K., & Whalen, C. (1967). The establishment of imitation and its use for the development of complex behavior in schizophrenic children.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 5, 171–181.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. McCall, R. B., Parke, R. D., & Kavanaugh, R. D. (1977). Imitation of live and televised models by children one to three years of age.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 42 (5, Serial No. 173).Google Scholar
  17. Stokes, T. F., & Baer, D. M. (1977). An implicit technology of generalization.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 10, 349–367.Google Scholar
  18. Strain, P. S., Kerr, M. M., & Ragland, E. U. (1979). Effects of peer mediated social initiation and prompting/reinforcement procedures on the social behavior of autistic children.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 9, 41–54.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Varni, J. W., Lovaas, O. I., Koegel, R. L., & Everrett, N. L. (1979). An analysis of observational learning in autistic and normal children.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 7, 31–43.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Wahler, R. G. (1969). Setting generality: Some specific and general effects of child behavior therapy.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2, 239–246.Google Scholar
  21. Wolf, T. M. (1973). Effects of live modeled sex-inappropriate play in a naturalistic setting.Developmental Psychology, 9, 120–123.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward G. Carr
    • 1
  • Michael Darcy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyState University of New YorkStony Brook

Personalised recommendations