Teaching Children With Autism to Initiate Social Interactions Using Textual Prompts Delivered via Apple Watches®

Abstract

Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often engage in low levels of peer social interactions; therefore, we often need to explicitly teach these skills. In the current study, we implemented a combined tactile and textual prompt, delivered via a text message sent to an Apple Watch®, to prompt social initiations from children with ASD to peers during free play. Results showed that the text message prompts increased the frequency of independent social initiations for both participants. Furthermore, 1 participant continued to emit high levels of independent social initiations during a 1-month follow-up with no prompts.

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Acknowledgements

This project was completed in partial fulfillment of the master’s degree from California State University, Stanislaus, by the first author. This study was supported in part by a Student Engagement in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Mini-grant from California State University, Stanislaus. We thank Haide Rocha and Cecilia Schaffner for their assistance in collecting data.

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Correspondence to Katie M. Wiskow.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional committee (Psychology Institutional Review Board, CSU Stanislaus, P-F17-72) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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

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Research Highlights

• Clinicians can teach children to respond to text-message prompts during brief, individual sessions.

• Utilizing technology (e.g., cell phones and smart watches) may allow clinicians to deliver less intrusive prompts in play contexts.

• Text-message prompts permit clinicians to deliver specific, contextually appropriate prompts.

• Smart watches are common, socially acceptable stimuli that may be ideal mechanisms to deliver prompts naturalistically.

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Lopez, A.R., Wiskow, K.M. Teaching Children With Autism to Initiate Social Interactions Using Textual Prompts Delivered via Apple Watches®. Behav Analysis Practice 13, 641–647 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-019-00385-y

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Prompting
  • Social interactions
  • technology
  • Text message