Positive Behavior Supports for Individuals Diagnosed with ASD: Basic Behaviors & Life Skills

Friday, May 18, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
10:00 AM
A. R. Amraotkar and M. J. Boman, Kelly Autism Program, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY
Background: Individuals with Autism exhibit impaired cognitive processing, which may lead to delayed or underdeveloped responses. Special Education extensively relies on using verbal and visual cues to help process information. Differential Reinforcement strategy of Applied Behavior Analysis focuses on positive feedback in educating individuals with ASD and could be a pioneer in skill acquisition for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Karsten & Carr, 2009).

Objectives: To induce positive behavior changes and life-skills acquisition in ASD individuals with problem behaviors using Un-Prompted Differential Reinforcement strategy.

Methods: The participants for this study are three non-verbal individuals of different age groups and genders diagnosed with ASD attending an after school program at the Kelly Autism Program, Western Kentucky University. Problem behaviors identified in all participants were targeted for gradual extinction. Six tasks, three involving life skills and three involving behaviors previously introduced had been included in the lesson plans for these individuals. One task from each group with highest frequency was selected for every participant and further administered. Trained professionals applied the guidelines of Un-Prompted Differential Reinforcement strategy using Positive Behavioral Supports with the help of High Autism Interest objects which stimulate individuals to accomplish tasks and achieve their goals (Sasson, Turner-Brown, Holtzclaw, Lam, Bodfish, 2008). Functional Analysis & Screening Tool (FAST), developed by the Florida Center on Self-Injury (2005) would be used to further observe behaviors. Frequency of recognized behaviors along with attention span during current task was recorded in participants and their peers. Positive Behavioral Supports were developed and updated based on consecutive assessment reports and have been implemented successfully.

Results: Participants exhibited positive changes in tasks from each category. In contrast to assessment of all six tasks, high frequency tasks indicated that behavior changes (e.g., asking for more food) were slower to occur, while skills (e.g., puzzle solving) developed faster. Recognized problem behaviors decreased by 40 - 50% between all three participants during a period of 6 months. Among all participants, attention span and active participation increased by 10 seconds per task during a period of 6 months. Behaviors and skills were successfully combined resulting in a stronger intervention plan.

Conclusions: This strategy was effective in bringing the desired positive changes in skills & behaviors of non-verbal individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Attention span for desired task can be increased by designing an intervention for problem behavior and development of Positive Behavior Supports. Behaviors and skills may be addressed together to create a stronger intervention plan.

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