Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 312–323 | Cite as

Using Time-delay to Improve Social Play Skills with Peers for Children with Autism

  • Daniella B. Liber
  • William D. Frea
  • Jennifer B. G. SymonEmail author
Original Paper


Interventions that teach social communication and play skills are crucial for the development of children with autism. The time delay procedure is effective in teaching language acquisition, social use of language, discrete behaviors, and chained activities to individuals with autism and developmental delays. In this study, three boys with autism, attending a non-public school, were taught play activities that combined a play sequence with requesting peer assistance, using a graduated time delay procedure. A multiple-baseline across subjects design demonstrated the success of this procedure to teach multiple-step social play sequences. Results indicated an additional gain of an increase in pretend play by one of the participants. Two also demonstrated a generalization of the skills learned through the time delay procedure.


Autism Time Delay Social Skills Play Skills Task Analysis Classroom Peer Mediated 



This study was conducted as part of a thesis project in the Charter College of Education in the Division of Special Education and Counseling at California State University, Los Angeles. We would like to acknowledge the participant children, their peers, families and teachers who participated in this study. Your participation may help many students with autism to improve social interactions with peers. Also, we appreciate the Director of the school programs for granting us permission to conduct the study in her setting and staff who assisted with data collection.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders – text revision (Fourth Edn.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Charlop, M. H., & Trasowech, J. E. (1991). Increasing autistic children’s daily spontaneous speech. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 24(4), 747–761.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 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(3), 307–314.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. DiSalvo, C., & Oswald, D. (2002). Peer-mediated interventions to increase social interaction of children with autism: Consideration of peer expectancies. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 17(4), 198–207.Google Scholar
  5. Garfinkle, A., & Schwartz, I. (2002). Peer imitation: Increasing social interactions in children with autism and other developmental disabilities in inclusive preschool classrooms. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 22(1), 26–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Goldstein, H., Kaczmarek, L., Pennington, R., & Shafer, K. (1992). Peer-mediated intervention: attending to, commenting on, and acknowledging the behavior of preschoolers with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25(2), 289–305.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kamps, D., Royer, J., Dugan, E., Kravits, T., Gonzalez-Lopez, A., Garcia, J., Carnazzo, K., Morrison, L., & Garrison Kane, L. (2002). Peer training to facilitate social interaction for elementary students with autism and their peers. Exceptional Children, 68(2), 173–187.Google Scholar
  8. Laushey, K., & Heflin, J. (2000). Enhancing social skills of kindergarten children with autism through the training of multiple peers as tutors. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30(3), 183–193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Leung, J. (1994). Teaching spontaneous requests to children with autism using a time delay procedure with multi-component toys. Journal of Behavioral Education, 4(1), 21–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Matson, J. L., Sevin, J. A., Box, M. L., Francis, K. L., & Sevin, B. M. (1993). An evaluation of two methods for increasing self-initiated verbalizations in autistic children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 26(3), 389–398.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Morrison, L., Kamps, D., Garcia, J., & Parker, D. (2001). Peer mediation and monitoring strategies to improve initiations and social skills for students with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 3(4), 237–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Pierce, K., & Schreibman, L. (1995). Increasing complex social behaviors in children with autism: effects of peer-implemented pivotal response training. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28(3), 285–295.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pierce, K., & Schreibman, L. (1997). Multiple peer use of pivotal response training to increase social behaviors of classmates with autism: Results from trained and untrained peers. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30(1), 157–160.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Schuster, J. W., Morse, T. E., Ault, M. J., Doyle, P. M., Crawford, M. R., & Wolery, M. (1998). Constant time delay with chained tasks: A review of the literature. Education and Treatment of Children, 21(1), 74–107.Google Scholar
  15. Schwartz, I. S., Anderson, S. R., & Halle, J. W. (1989). Training teachers to use naturalistic time delay: Effects on teacher behavior and on the language use of students. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 14(1), 48–57.Google Scholar
  16. Smith, T., Lovaas, N. W., & Lovaas, O. I. (2002). Behaviors of children with high-functioning autism when paired with typically developing versus delayed peers: A preliminary study. Behavioral Interventions, 17(3), 129–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Strain, P. S., & Fox, J. J. (1981). Peers as behavior change agents for withdrawn classmates. In B. B. Lahey & A. E. Kazdin (Eds.), Advances in clinical child psychology (Vol. 4, pp. 167–198). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  18. Strain, P.S., & Kohler, F. (1998). Peer-mediated social intervention for young children with autism. Seminars in Speech and Language, 19(4), 391–405.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Taylor, B. A., & Harris, S. L. (1995). Teaching children with autism to seek information: Acquisition of novel information and generalization of responding. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28(1), 3–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wall, M. E., & Gast, D. L. (1997). Caregivers’ use of constant time delay to teach leisure skills to adolescents or young adults with moderate or severe intellectual disabilities. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 32(4), 340–356.Google Scholar
  21. Wolery, M., Holcombe, A., Cybriwsky, C., Doyle, P. M., Schuster, J. W., Ault, M. J., & Gast, D. L. (1992). Constant time delay with discrete responses: A review of effectiveness and demographic, procedural, and methodological parameters. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 13, 239–266.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniella B. Liber
    • 1
    • 5
  • William D. Frea
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jennifer B. G. Symon
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.California State University, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Division of Special Education and CounselingCalifornia State University, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Autism Training ProgramsCalifornia State University, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Autism Spectrum TherapiesSouthern CaliforniaUSA
  5. 5.Julia Ann Singer Therapeutic SchoolVista del Mar Child and Family ServicesCulver CityUSA

Personalised recommendations