preschool-aged children with autism. The children demonstrated increases in the targeted symbolic play skills and increased positive responses to adult initiations and in initiations to adults during the play training, but not during the language training, with maintenance for 3 months and generalization across settings and other adults.
Krantz and McClannahan (1998) used a script-fading procedure to increase social initiations to a teacher. The technique involved using a one-word written stimulus embedded in a child’s independent play schedule. The stimulus prompted the child to approach an adult and initiate a joint attention request (look, watch me, etc.). The adult responded with comments but without any other reinforcing consequence. Three verbal preschoolers learned the procedure and maintained and increased initiations after the stimuli were faded. Furthermore, generalization was demonstrated through spontaneous use of unscripted initiations, as well as by generalization across new adults and new activities.
Peer Mediated Techniques for Increasing Interaction and Responses to Peers In the peer-mediated approach, developed over the past 20 years by Phillip Strain, Samuel Odom, Howard Goldstein, and their associates, typical peers are taught to repeatedly initiate “play organizers” such as sharing, helping, giving affection, and praise. Peers learn the strategies through role-play with adults and then are cued by adults to use those strategies with children with autism. Peers are reinforced by adults for their efforts, and the reinforcements are systematically and carefully reduced. The power of these strategies to increase social interactions of young children with autism, as well as generalization and maintenance, has been demonstrated in inclusive preschool classes, as reported in many published multiple baseline studies (Hoyson et al., 1984; Strain et al., 1979; Strain et al., 1977; Goldstein et al., 1992).
Variables found to be important in maintenance and generalization include the characteristics of the peers, methods of prompting and reinforcing peers, fading reinforcers, ages of children, and characteristics of the setting, as well as the use of multiple peer trainers (Brady et al., 1987; Sainato et al., 1992). Self-monitoring systems for the peers have also been used successfully (Strain et al., 1994). These interventions have been found most powerful when delivered in inclusive preschools, but they have also been used successfully by parents and siblings in homes (Strain and Danko, 1995; Strain et al., 1994).
Oke and Schreibman (1990) extended the use of play organizers in a case study involving one child, a high-functioning 5-year-old. They added two procedures to the peer-mediated techniques: they trained a typical peer to discriminate between and differentially attend to parallel play and