Teaching children with autism to ask questions in integrated preschool settings: a comparison of constant and progressive time delay
Recent communication interventions for children with autism have addressed their difficulty with pragmatic skills such as asking questions. Receiving explicit instruction in asking questions seems to be particularly relevant for children with autism who often fail to make spontaneous verbal initiations, thereby decreasing their learning and social opportunities. Other behavioral characteristics often associated with autism such as stimulus overselectivity, aberrant behavior in the face of repeated errors, and prompt dependency indicate that great care needs to be given in transferring stimulus control from explicit prompts to naturally occurring stimuli. In this study, an adapted. alternating treatments design was used to compare a standard constant and an adapted progressive time delay procedure in teaching preschoolers with autism to ask What and Where questions in their integrated preschool classroom. The progressive time delay procedure was modified so that increases in the delay intervals were contingent on only unprompted correct responses. After the transfer of stimulus control in the initial 1 s adapted progressive time delay interval, a continuous schedule of reinforcement with a limited hold was systematically extended as a means of permitting the participants to respond in a manner more consistent with that of their typically developing peers. The results indicated that both prompting procedures were effective; however, considering that the transfer of stimulus control seemed complete after the 1 s adapted progressive time delay interval, a further comparison of the 1 s adapted progressive interval and 4 s constant time interval demonstrated that a 4 s constant time delay was slightly more efficient in teaching children with autism to ask questions. Implications for future research in the use of time delay procedures for children with autism are discussed.
- Education - Seattle