Effects Of Social Skills Training And Contingency Management On Reciprocal Interaction Of Preschool Children With Behavioral Handicaps

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Four subjects participated in a study to evaluate the effects of various social interaction skill interventions on the social behavior of preschool children and the reciprocal nature of their interactions with peers. Intervention included social skills training conducted in a controlled instructional setting, as well as individual and group-oriented contingency management procedures implemented during free play. Subject performance was assessed with a behavioral role play test and via direct observation of subject and peer behavior in free play settings. Results indicated unique effects for social skills training and the two contingency management interventions. Social skills training alone produced significant improvement in the production of target social skills, as measured by role play, for 3 of 4 subjects. However, this intervention produced relatively modest effects on subject and peer behavior in free play. Prompts and praise for target behaviors delivered to individual subjects during free play (i.e., Coaching) produced significant change in rates of subject initiations and responses to peers and peer responses to subject initiations, but produced few changes in reciprocal interactions between subjects and peers. Prompts and praise delivered to total play groups (i.e., Group Coaching) produced desired effects on peer behavior, but had less effect on interactive behavior of subjects. These results are discussed with respect to the role of reciprocal interaction and behavioral trapping for producing maintenance and generalization in social interaction interventions for preschool children with behavioral handicaps.

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