Title

Social stories to increase verbal initiations to peers in children with autistic disorder and Asperger's Disorder

Date of Completion

January 2008

Keywords

Education, Educational Psychology

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Individuals with autism and Asperger's Disorder experience pervasive social impairments as a core diagnostic feature that assert an overwhelming influence on daily adaptive functioning (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). The inability to navigate effectively through the social world is often the key obstacle preventing successful adjustment into society. Social stories are a highly popularized intervention that is recommended to treat this symptom. The literature reflects that social stories are beneficial at reducing many problem behaviors. Systematic and empirical evidence of the use of social stories to increase prosocial behaviors is limited. The present study replicated previous methods (Delano & Snell, 2006) and utilized a multiple baseline design across participants to investigate the use of social stories to increase verbal initiations and contingent responses to peers. The present study added to the research base by further examining the usefulness of social stories to increase verbal initiations to peers in students with both autism and Asperger's Disorder. Additionally, this investigation looked at possible treatment effects in an applied setting. Results imply that until further research is able to decipher more about the crucial elements of social stories, including the underlying mechanism at play, their use to increase verbal initiations and contingent responses to peers in an applied setting maybe unreliable. Ineffectiveness of social stories is hypothesized to be due to characteristics of the population used or to the absence of a behavior analytic perspective when applying the treatment. It is theorized that close examination of the contextual influences that surrounded the occurrences of the target behaviors and attention to individual characteristics of participants may increase success rate of social stories. Findings point to the need for practitioners to exercise caution when using social stories to increase social engagement skills in individuals with autism and Asperger's Disorder in an applied setting. ^