Many children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show limited play skills including difficulty sustaining appropriate play when alone and do not readily learn new play skills from observing and interacting with others during play. A variety of behavioral interventions have been designed to improve play skills in children with ASD including both structured and less structured or naturalistic interventions. The purpose of this study was to (a) evaluate the effects of imitation training in teaching independent play, including play actions and play vocals; (b) compare the effects of a structured imitation training protocol and a naturalistic imitation training protocol in teaching independent play; (c) evaluate the patterns of disengagement during independent play; (d) evaluate the maintenance and generalization of independent play following imitation training; and (e) promote observational learning of play skills, play actions and play vocals, from a model without imitation training. A multiple-baseline across play sets, replicated across five children, was used to analyze the effects of the two imitation training protocols on the children’s independent play. Within this design, a multi-element comparison was embedded to evaluate which one of these imitation training protocols was most effective to improve independent play. Overall, the results of this study showed some positive, but mixed findings within and across the children on the effects of imitation training on independent play. No obvious and consistent differential effects were found between the two imitation protocols for any child. All children continued to show some disengagement throughout this study; however, improvements in independent play maintained and generalized to novel, but similar, play sets. The children also showed limited play skills when only provided with a model, suggesting that these children continued to require further imitation training to learn new play skills and that they were not readily learning new play skills through observation. Implications and future research are suggested related to these findings.
|Advisor:||Morris, Edward K., Larsson, Eric V.|
|Commitee:||Dozier, Claudia L., Neidert, Pamela L., Travers, Jason C.|
|School:||University of Kansas|
|Department:||Applied Behavioral Science|
|School Location:||United States -- Kansas|
|Source:||DAI-B 78/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Early childhood education, Psychology|
|Keywords:||Autism, Behavioral intervention, Imitation, Independent play, Observational learning|
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