Autism Behavior Modification Health Professionals Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Computer programming also allows the student unlimited control of stimulus presentations. Computer-based reinforcers can also immediately follow responses. And computers allow concurrent or "cooperative" use (Goldsmith & LeBlanc).

Virtual Reality

This creates a three-dimensional, computer-generate environment, where people can behave and interact (Goldsmith & LeBlacn 2004). It has been shown effective in treating phobias, burn pain during wound care as adjunct therapy; self-mastery of wheelchair use by children with cerebral palsy; and movement by children recovering traumas and diseases. It can allow the elimination and gradual introduction of distracting stimuli, exaggeration and then gradual return to normal stimuli features and unlimited creation of exemplars to promote generalizations. It is also a safer alternative to skills commonly taught in the natural environment. Virtual reality training, however, is costly, has programming requirements and lacks knowledgeable clinicians and researcher to handle it. Nonetheless, technological advances and evolving lower-cost systems may make virtual reality more affordable in the future (Goldsmith & LeBlanc 2004).


Although new and largely un-explored, the robotics technique presents a simplified social environment and the gradual increase of complex social interactions (Goldsmith & LeBlacn 2004). Robots can be used to teach basic social interaction skills to persons with autism through taking turns and imitation games. Robots may be used as mediators and as objects of shared attention, which can, in turn encourage interaction with others. The Aurora Project in 1998 was introduced by a group led by Kerstin Dautenhahn. It wanted to discover how robots could be used as a toy and form part of the treatment of children with autism. It promoted sustained eye contact. A more recent model was Robota, a doll with added motors, sensors and simple processor that allows it to move, sense movement, recognize gestures and respond to them. Autistic children can play with them. Concrete benefits have yet to be determined, but preliminary findings and verbal accounts pointed to something promising about the tool (Goldsmith & LeBlanc).

Social Validation previous study on the use of symbolic play training on children with autism found that they increased relevant behavior and play complexity comparable to normal children of comparable ages (Schreibman & Powell 2006). Outcomes should be socially important, practical and relevant. Social validation is specifically relevant in evaluating the effects of behavior of children with autism. Society at large has a misconception of autism. This is why social validation can improve or correct the misconception by the general public (Schreibman & Powell).

Additional research found that persons with autism engage in other types of play behaviors (Schreibman & Powell 2006). These are often less complex and more repetitive than those engaged in by typical, normal children (Schreibman & Powell). Another study found tha naive judge detected differences in the play behaviors of normally developing children and in those of children with autism (Stahmer et al. 2006). These judges or observers also noted the differences in the two groups before and after symbolic play training. These judges evaluated the play of children with autism more positively after rather than before play training. Findings implied that while the quantity approximated typical levels, the quality remained deficient (Stahment et al.).


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