Assessment-Based Peer-Mediated Social Competence Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Friday, May 15, 2015: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Imperial Ballroom (Grand America Hotel)
J. R. Martinez1, D. A. Prykanowski1, M. A. Conroy1, B. Werch2, K. Reese2 and K. Marsh2, (1)College of Education, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, (2)School Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Background: Social competence deficits are considered the most foundational characteristic used in diagnosing individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD; American Psychological Association, 2013). Most children form social relationships with their peers as they progress through school; however, for children with ASD peer-related social competence does not develop without explicit instruction and exposure to relevant social agents (Brown, Odom, & Conroy, 2001). As a result, many children with ASD form few friendships with peers and may be at a distinct disadvantage in accessing critical learning opportunities that normally follow social interactions (Carter, Davis, Klin, & Volkmar, 2005) and in accessing critical learning opportunities required for success later in their lives. 

Objectives: This poster will present findings from a single-case design research study investigating the effectiveness of an assessment-based peer-mediated intervention aimed at increasing peer-related social competence skills of children with ASD within their school settings. 

Methods: Four children (ages 4 – 11 years) diagnosed with ASD and five socially competent peers participated in the study. The children with ASD were paired with same-aged peers in order to form 3 dyads (i.e., 1 child with ASD and 1 same-age peer) and one triad (i.e., 1 child with ASD-two peers). Using a systematic assessment-based approach, individualized interventions were developed for each focal child dyad and triad with the goal of promoting their peer-related social interactions during three school activities. Using a multiple-baseline across activity design, the effectiveness of a multi-component intervention package, that included behavioral prompting strategies, preferred materials/activities and reinforcement strategies, was employed and participants were taught to initiate to peers, respond to social bids and increase the frequency and duration of their social interactions. A direct observation measurement system was used to code the frequency of occurrence of the target social behavior during the intervention observation sessions. All of the interventions were implemented using authentic school activities. 

Results: As illustrated in the two graphs attached below, the results indicated that the children with ASD increased their peer-related social competence. This is evident by increases in their responses to peers’ social bids and increases in the social interactions between them and their peers following the implementation of the intervention. Additionally, peers were more likely to initiate, engage and sustain social interactions with the children with ASD. Interobserver agreement checks on the target social behaviors were calculated for 25% of the total observation sessions for each dyad and triad. The overall mean percentage interobserver agreement on the target behaviors was 96.4%. Moreover, procedural fidelity was assessed for 20% of the total observation sessions and calculated to be 100% for each dyad and triad. 

Conclusions: Peer-related social competence is a critical skill for school success. The data from this study demonstrate the effectiveness of a systematic assessment-based approach for designing individualized school-based peer-mediated social competence interventions for children with ASD. Data from this study will be presented and discussed in terms of implications for school-based interventions.