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The Influence Of Child-preferred Activities On Autistic Children's Social Behavior.

R. Koegel, K. Dyer, L. Bell
Published 1987 · Psychology, Medicine

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One of the characteristics of autistic children is severe social avoidance behavior. We assessed whether the type of activity (child-preferred vs. activities that were arbitrarily determined by an adult) engaged in during an interaction was correlated with the amount of social avoidance behaviors these children exhibit. Results revealed a negative correlation between appropriate child-preferred activities and social avoidance behavior. Additional analyses revealed that (a) social avoidance behaviors could be manipulated within a reversal design, and would predictably decrease when the children were prompted to initiate appropriate child-preferred activities; and (b) these procedures could be used to teach children to initiate child-preferred activities in community settings, resulting in reductions in social avoidance responses even after the therapist's prompts were completely removed. These data suggest that the manipulation of task variables may influence the severe social unresponsiveness that is characteristic of autistic children.
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