Task Interspersal Implementation Practices with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Task interspersal is a teaching method frequently used with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although many different procedural variations of task interspersal have been reported in the literature, it is unclear how providers serving individuals with ASD implement task interspersal. The present study surveyed direct care providers to examine which variations of task interspersal they use most frequently, as well as how they choose a particular variation. Results revealed that many different procedural variations are used across providers. Provider discipline background appeared to be associated with differences in selection of specific procedural variations. Findings inform areas for further research as well as consideration of topics for discussion during training and/or supervision with employees and trainees. (1) Providers report frequently interspersing tasks of similar difficulty, despite research supporting the practice of interspersing tasks of varying difficulty. Service providers might consider primarily implementing maintenance among acquisition tasks when using task interspersal. (2) Due to potential problems associated with using the same reinforcement schedules/reinforcers for both tasks (e.g., satiation), providers and supervising BCBAs are encouraged to consider whether using different reinforcement schedules/reinforcers will enhance acquisition outcomes. (3) When selecting a procedural variation, providers reported relying on clinical judgment or guidelines from their organizations more frequently than directly contacting the current literature. It is important that organizations and supervisors provide clear guidelines and recommendations based on the most recent scientific literature and update these as new research is published. (4) Individualization of procedures based on specific client characteristics was found to be inconsistent. Supervisors are encouraged to discuss individualization practices for cases in which consistency of treatment across providers is preferred or necessary for maintenance of skills.
KeywordsTask interspersal Provider decisions Instructional programming Procedural variations Autism
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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