Behavior Analysis in Practice

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 216–221 | Cite as

Using Shaping to Teach Eye Contact to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Amelia M. FongerEmail author
  • Richard W. Malott
Brief Practice


The current study used a shaping procedure to teach three preschool-aged children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder to make eye contact with the instructor for a duration of 3 s. Then, eye contact was taught during breaks in instruction. Following the initial intervention, the frequency of reinforcement was decreased while training for generalization across instructors and locations. All three children acquired quick and sustained eye contact, which maintained after 1 month without the need for prompting. This study provides an alternative method for teaching young children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder to make eye contact without the need for prompting; outlines an approach for teaching eye contact when baseline levels of eye contact are severely low and/or the child is actively avoiding eye contact; describes a successful method for thinning the schedule of reinforcement and introducing instructional demands; and recommends a practical technique for gaining attention before delivering an instructional demand.


Eye contact Shaping Early intervention Autism spectrum disorder 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

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.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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