Autism is a behavioral disorder that affects social and communication skills of a child severely and also affects his behavior to a large extent. Experts of the area under discussion recognize autism as a condition of neural development disorder in which the system of information processing in a child’s brain is affected and he faces several behavioral disorders. Spectrum disorder is another name, used for Autism and this name has is used because symptoms of this disorder are found in a large numbers.
Studies Focus on Backward and Forward Chaining Process:
Wolery and Gast conducted a study to understand the effective process to transfer stimulus control. Authors studied about teaching autistic children and also that which chaining process is more effective forward or backward. In the study four responses against two stimuli has been recorded and discussed. Both forward and back ward chaining processes has been Step by step studied to understand the effectiveness of the process. During study, the outcome has been discussed with teachers and their concerns regarding the process had also been recorded for further study.
A study carried by Liz Hannah discusses various methods for teaching autistic children. Author also discussed backward and forward chaining technique for effective teaching. Author described techniques to teach new skills to children who are having problem with concentration, language and organization skills. As per author in forward chaining technique anything which teacher want children to learn get divided into small steps and one by one student learn all those steps. Teacher teach second step only when student is master of first step.
As per author in backward chining student learn the outcome of all steps first. The outcome or final result motivates student to learn other steps. By adopting this method one can teach various things to children. Author praise backward chaining as it provide confidence to children and help in learning several things.
A research study carried out to understand the behavior and response toward various teaching techniques have been studied. Under the study four mentally retarded children were taught various basic things like putting on cloths, tooth brushing, shoe tying and hair combing etc. all children were in age group of 4 to 11 years. In the study various behaviors have been taught to children by using various models and techniques. The teaching process was mainly executed in three phases. In first phase teacher verbally informed the tasks to the children. Response to the first phase has been recorded and then second phase initiated. In the second phase teacher described the process step by step verbally and physically and helped children in doing those steps. After proper training and practice children were asked to do the task independently.
For teaching the children, forward and backward chaining techniques have been used. Observations have been made on which one of the techniques are more useful for children and help them in learning process. Both of the techniques have been found effective, depending upon the nature of the task.
Peer Review Studies:
A study conducted by M H Charlop and J P Milstein focused on analyzing effectiveness of videos in teaching autistic children and to make teaching process more impactful. The study was mainly focused on developing conversational skills in autistic children. The study was conducted on three autistic children. All three children were shown the video tape in which, people were discussing the features of a toy. After completing the learning process for the displayed video, all the three children were asked to repeat the same behavior with new stimuli like new toy, new person, family member, and autistic person. It was observed that children performed even in new stimuli. All the conversational skills they learned through video were shown in new setup and with new stimuli. Children even maintained their learning and conversation skills over a period of fifteen months. The outcome of the study showed that video technique is an effective technique in teaching autistic children.
Another study assessing the effectiveness of video modeling was conducted by Nikopoulos CK and Keenan M. In the study effectiveness of video in teaching composite social sequences has been observed. In the study few autistic children were shown four different types of videos in a room. In the videos people were involved in simple conversations. After showing the videos and training children on the conversation sequences, analysis of children behavior was carried out. The video modeling enhanced not only their conversation skills but also helped them in improving engagement and copying response. In the study it has been showed that after providing training and follow up for one to two months the children were able to maintain learning.
A research study was carried out by Liber DB, Frea WD and Symon JB focusing on effectiveness of time-delay techniques in teaching autistic children. Authors in their study focused on importance of communication skills and play skills. They mentioned that both the skills play an important role in development of autistic children. Time-delay technique helps autistic children in enhancing knowledge about language furthermore how to use language and chain activities. The study was conducted over three autistic boys. Boys were taught play activities along with play sequences by using time-delay technique. After completion of teaching, process knowledge and behavior of students were analyzed. From the results it was found that time-delay technique is very effective in teaching multiple step play activities to autistic children.
Another study on the time-delay technique has been conducted by Charlop MH, Schreibman L and Thibodeau MG. Authors mentioned that while teaching autistic students the major problem has been observed as absenteeism of lack of pretension in teaching speech and Due to this, autistic children behavior is mostly dependent on the verbal behavior of people with whom they are interacting rather than depending on the natural environment.
In the study effectiveness of time delay technique to improve natural speech of seven autistic children has been accessed. During study all seven students were shown a preferred item like chocolate/cookies, their response after seeing the thing and hearing vocalization have been recorded. Later on the time between showing the things and vocalization has been increased and spontaneous response of children observed. Over the time, children learnt to request for the objects shown to them. Results showed the time-delay technique is very effective in teaching autistic children.
A study carried out by Charlop MH and Trasowech JE to access the effectiveness of educating parents on the time-delay technique to improve spontaneous response of autistic children in daily life. The study has been conducted over three autistic boys and their parents. In the study parents were informed about the time-delay technique and its usability to improve their children spontaneous response in daily occurring activities. Children spontaneous response at different locations with different persons and settings was accessed. Result of the study showed that spontaneous response of children was improved and they maintain that at other locations and in different settings.
Another study conducted by Howlin P and Rutter M shows the impact of mother’s speech on autistic children. For the study purpose, two groups of parents and children were formed i.e. controlled group and experimental group. In control group no changes were made in the language and expression of parents but in experiment group some alterations were made in communication style of parents. Results of the study showed that no major changes in communication pattern of control group were observed whereas improvements in children language of experimental group were very much visible. The study had shown a direct link-up between parent language and child language.
Another study carried out by Girolametto L, Sussman F and Weitzman E analyzes the impact of parent language on child behavior. The study was conducted on three families over a period of eleven weeks. During the study parents have been asked to; follow model language, increase their child participation in regular tasks and follow children lead. Outcome of the study was evaluated on following parameters – input of parent’s reactive language, frequency of child communication, number of interactions made by children, and initiation. The result of the study indicated that increased responsiveness of mothers directly reflected in child behavior. All three children participated in the study increased their interactions, initiations and use of vocabulary. Overall their social interaction skills were improved. Authors concluded that mother’s responsiveness is directly related with children engagement and social interactions.
A study conducted by Ben-Itzchak E and Zachor DA to access the relationship between variables i.e. social and communication and outcome in autistic children. The study was conducted on 25 children. Based on the IQ level two groups of children were formed. Total six behavioral development aspects i.e. imitation, receptive and expressive language, nonverbal communication skills, stereotyped behaviors and play skills were covered and studied over a period of one year. After doing intervention for one year on all above mentioned behavioral aspects the analysis have been done. The result of the study indicated that children with high IQ level showed better response towards receptive and expressive language and play skills whereas both group given good response towards receptive language .
A study conducted by Thorp DM, Stahmer AC and Schreibman L access the effectiveness of sociodramatic play on autistic children. The study was conducted on three autistic children. All three children have been given training on pivotal response. The training mainly provided to teach language to autistic children. Children were evaluated on language skills, play skills and social behavior before going to the training, after training and during follow up. Positive response has been noticed on all three measures i.e. language skills play skills and social behavior.
Study conducted by Stahmer AC and Schreibman L focused on teaching autistic children in unsupervised environment. Under the study effectiveness of self management training was accessed. The experiment was carried out on three autistic children. Play behavior of children were measured before self management training and after training. Children presented a poor play behavior before self management training but after the self management training appropriate behavior was observed. Two children even maintained their behavior in new settings with one month follow up. Based on the findings of study, as the negative self motivational behavior decreased, positive play behavior increased.
After having observed several aspects of autism and reviewing various studies on the same subject, it is clear that autistic children can be taught and trained by counseling, and regular practice. The parents, teachers and psychotherapists should pay appropriate attention on the children suffering from this behavioral disorder. These children should never be made realized at any point of time that they are suffering from any kind of disorder and the teachings or training should be conducted in a very friendly atmosphere.
Ben-Itzchak E and Zachor DA. (2007). The effects of intellectual functioning and autism severity on outcome of early behavioral intervention for children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities , 287-303.
Charlop MH and Trasowech JE. (1991). Increasing autistic children daily spontaneous speech. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , 747-761.
Charlop MH, Schreibman L and Thibodeau MG. (1985). Increasing spontaneous verbal responding in autistic children using a time delay procedure. Journal of Applied Bahavior Analysis , 155-66.
Girolametto L, Sussman F and Weitzman E. (2007). Using case study methods to investigate the effects of interactive intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Communication Disorders , 470-492.
Hannah, L. (2001). Teaching Young Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders to Learn. London: AAPC Publishing .
Howlin P and Rutter M. (1989). Mothers’ speech to autistic children: a preliminary causal analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines , 819-843.
Johnny L. Matson , Marie E. Taras, Jay A. Sevin, Steven R. Love and Diane Fridley. (1990). Teaching self-help skills to autistic and mentally retarded children. Research in Developmental Disabilities , 361-378.
Liber DB, Frea WD and Symon JB. (2007). Using time-delay to improve social play skills with peers for children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders , 312-23.
M H Charlop and J P Milstein. (1989). Teaching autistic children conversational speech using video modeling. Journal of Applied Bahavior Analysis , 275-285.
Mark Wolery and David L. Gast. (1984). Effective and Efficient Procedures for the Transfer of Stimulus Control. A Journal of The Hammill Institute on Disabilities , 52-77.
Nikopoulos CK and Keenan M. (2007). Using video modeling to teach complex social sequences to children with autism. Journal of Autism and Development Disorders , 678-693.
Stahmer AC and Schreibman L. (1992). Teaching children with autism appropriate play in unsupervised environments using a self-management treatment package. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , 447-459.
Thorp DM, Stahmer AC and Schreibman L. (1995). Effects of sociodramatic play training on children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders , 265-282.