International Meeting for Autism Research: Evaluation of An Imitation Intervention for Low-Functioning Adolescents with Autism

Evaluation of An Imitation Intervention for Low-Functioning Adolescents with Autism

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
11:00 AM
K. A. Meyer1, B. Ingersoll1, D. Carlsen2 and T. Hamlin2, (1)Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, (2)Center for Discovery, Harris, NY
Background: Individuals with autism have significant difficulties with social skills across the lifespan. While a variety of social interventions for young children and high-functioning older individuals have been developed in recent years, few interventions focused on improving social skills in older low-functioning individuals with autism have been examined. Previous research suggests that reciprocal imitation training improves imitation and other social-communication skills in young children with autism. A developmental perspective would suggest that this intervention might also be appropriate for older low-functioning individuals with autism.

Objectives: This study investigated the effect of two to six 20-minute sessions per week of reciprocal imitation training on imitation skills, social engagement, and repetitive behaviors in four adolescents with low-functioning autism over the course of ten weeks.

Methods: This study used a non-concurrent multiple-baseline design across four adolescents with autism and severe to profound intellectual disabilities residing at a residential treatment facility.

Results: Preliminary results indicate that all four adolescents improved their imitation skills over the course of the 10-week treatment. In addition, the two adolescents who displayed high rates of repetitive behaviors during baseline sessions also decreased their rate of repetitive behaviors over the course of treatment. 

Conclusions:  Overall, these results suggest that reciprocal imitation training may be effective at improving imitation and decreasing repetitive behaviors in adolescents with low-functioning autism.


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