Research Article: Improving social engagement and initiations between children with autism spectrum disorder and their peers in inclusive settings
Koegel, L., Vernon, T., Koegel, R., Koegel, B., & Paullin, A. (2012). Improving social engagement and initiations between children with autism spectrum disorder and their peers in inclusive settings.Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, doi: 10.1177/1098300712437042
Research suggests that incorporating the circumscribed ritualistic interests of children with autism as a theme of activities can improve their socialization. The current study assessed whether socialization would improve if more general interests of children on the autism spectrum that would also be of interest to their typical peers were incorporated into activities. Three children with autism, who were included in regular education classes but did not seek out or interact with peers prior to intervention, participated. Data were collected in the context of a multiple baseline across-participants design, with a reversal for one child. Activities that were identified to be of interest to the study participants and their typical peers were implemented as clubs twice weekly during regular lunchtime periods. Results showed that all three children demonstrated large increases in their time engaged with peers as a result of the activities, with minimal training of the interventionist and without any specialized training of the children with autism or their peers. Furthermore, their untargeted verbal initiations greatly improved over baseline levels and often approximated the levels of their peers. Implications for further improving peer social interactions for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are discussed.