Using a Group-Oriented Contingency to Increase Social Interactions between Children with Autism and Their Peers: A Preliminary Analysis of Corollary Supportive Behaviors

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The effects of a group-oriented contingency on the social and supportive interactions of three preschoolers with autism and their socially competent peers were examined. Children participated in daily manipulative play activities in groups of three (including one target child and two peers). A group reinforcement contingency increased all three target children's social interactions with peers (e.g., share, assistance, and play organizers) but produced few or no corollary supportive exchanges within the playgroups (e.g., one socially competent youngster tells another to "Ask [target child] to share the Lego toys with us"). After a withdrawal of treatment phase in which social interactions decreased to low levels, children were taught to direct supportive comments to other members of their playgroups. Following this brief training, the interdependent group contingency was reinstated to reinforce the share, assistance, and play organizer exchanges between the target children and peers. In addition to interacting with the target children, socially competent youngsters also used supportive prompts to facilitate the social exchanges between their remaining group members. Children's social and supportive interactions decreased and increased again during subsequent baseline and group contingency phases. These results are discussed with regard to the efficacy of group-oriented contingencies and the function of supportive peer behaviors.

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