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The Effects of an Observational Intervention on Audience Control by Peers in Preschool Children with Developmental and Language Delays

Baowaidan, Lamis Mamdouh A.

I tested the effects of an observational intervention on observing responses, denial responses, and audience appropriate behaviors in 9 preschool children with developmental and language delays. The participants were 8 males and 1 female aged 3-5 years, who were selected from a preschool program that implemented a behavior analytic approach to all instruction. All participants had fluent listener and speaker repertoires and emitted mands, tacts, and sequelics with adults. The children were selected to participate because they displayed little to no awareness of, or interactions with their peers during free play and social settings. I conducted probes for a) peer observing responses, b) responses to denial of non-preferred stimuli being delivered to peers, c) social initiations to peers, d) responses to peers’ social initiations, and e) other socially appropriate behaviors. Pre-intervention probes showed that all participants emitted low peer observing responses in free play settings, and did not consistently initiate or reciprocate peer interactions across different social settings. Five out of nine participants emitted responses to denial prior to the intervention. The independent variable was an observational intervention using non-preferred stimuli and a denial condition that was used in prior studies to establish conditioned reinforcement by observation. The participant and peer confederate sat side-by-side at a table, and were separated by an opaque partition. They were both presented with a performance task. The participant observed the peer confederate receive the non-preferred stimuli but could not observe the peer’s responses to the task. The intervention continued until the participants emitted responses to denial of the non-preferred stimuli across two sessions. Post-intervention data suggest that peer observing responses in free play settings, as well as audience appropriate behaviors in social settings increased as a function of the observational intervention in 8 out of 9 participants. Responses to the denial of non-preferred stimuli delivered to a peer increased in 4 out of 4 participants who did not respond during pre-intervention probes.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Behavior Analysis
Thesis Advisors
Dudek, Jessica Lee
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 29, 2016