Setting generality of peer modeling in children with autism
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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.
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