Case Study-1 

Use of Applied Behavior Analysis with an Autistic Adolescent

Socialization between individuals is an important characteristic in human development. In individuals with autism, there is a profound deficit with social skills and with social reciprocity. Interventions and techniques are utilized to help enhance these skills. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects that Applied Behavior Analysis using discrete trials can have on the ability to elicit a spontaneous greeting in various settings by an adolescent male diagnosed with autism. This study analyzed data collected during a ten week intervention program. Behavior ratings reflected some uneven progress over the ten weeks, but significant improvements in the targeted social behaviors were exhibited by the tenth week of training. The behavior checklist appeared to be an effective tool for assessing the social behavior of an adolescent male diagnosed with autism.

Research has demonstrated the need for social interaction from infancy to adulthood in normal human development. Initiating conversation, making eye contact, and responding to dialogue are important components of social competence. Individuals begin to develop these social skills (i.e., how to greet and engage in conversation) at an early age through modeling by others. As children mature, they refine these social skills as they enter adolescence and grow into adulthood. However, children with autism develop and mature differently.

Children with autism exhibit many social difficulties. It appears that they do not comprehend nonverbal aspects of communication and usually lack social reciprocity, such as understanding conversations or their partners’ thoughts, feelings, ideas, and unfamiliar setting? Research has shown that children with autism are more likely to initiate an interaction if prompted by another person (Gadia, Tuchman, & Rotta, 2004). Studies have also shown that children with autism can learn to make initial greetings in structured settings such as school. However, there are few studies that demonstrate success in getting individuals with autism to initiate conversation in unstructured settings with little or no initial prompting.