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Use of the Power Card Strategy as an intervention with an elementary school student with Asperger syndrome


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Use of the Power Card Strategy as an intervention with an elementary school student with Asperger syndrome increasing on-task behavior in the general education setting
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Devenport, Jane M
University of South Florida
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use of special interests or obsessive preoccupation to increase acceptable behavior
visually based strategies
cognitive behaviorally based strategies
mediated generalization
rule governed behavior
Dissertations, Academic -- Applied Behavior Analysis -- Masters -- USF
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ABSTRACT: It has been slightly more than a decade since Asperger syndrome was recognized as a distinct sub-category of autism disorder and was first given a diagnostic category in the DSM-IV. An abundance of suggestions, ideas, and recommendations for treatment have been offered, yet there is only a limited amount of research that empirically evaluates these interventions. This study explores an intervention, the Power Card Strategy (PCS), previously demonstrated to be effective with improving social behaviors with a young girl with autism, by employing the student's area of special interest. An advantage to this intervention is it is relatively easy to implement, requires minimal time, and the cost is virtually nil.This study used a reversal design to investigate the utility of the Power Card Strategy to increase on-task behavior during teacher-directed math instruction in a general education class. The results of this study suggest that the PCS was effective for increasing on-task behavior with this student. An upward trend was observed in the student's on-task behavior during the intervention condition. Upon return to the baseline condition, the student's on-task behavior stabilized at levels observed during intervention, suggesting that skills acquired during the intervention phase maintained.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2004.
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by Jane M. Devenport.
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Use of the Power Card Strategy as an Intervention with an Elementary School Student with Asperger Syndrome: Increasing On-Task Behavior in the General Education Setting by Jane M. Devenport A thesis defense in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis College of Graduate Studies University of South Florida Major Professor: Pamela Osnes, Ph.D., John Esch, Ph.D. Trevor Stokes, Ph.D. Date of Approval: June 11, 2004 Keywords: use of special interests or obsessive preoccupations to increase acceptable behavior, visually based strategies, cognitive behaviorally based strategies, rule governed behavior, mediated generalization Copyright 2004, Jane Devenport i


i Table of Contents List of Tables ii List of Figures iii Abstract iv Chapter One Introduction 1 Chapter Two Method 19 Participant & Setting 19 Target Behavior 21 Target Behavior Definitions 22 Materials & Procedures 23 Experimental Design & Data Collection 25 Reliability 26 Chapter Three Results 28 Chapter Four Discussion 34 References 43 Appendices 49 Appendix A: Teacher Questionnaire 50 Appendix B: Expectations Script 51 Appendix C: Power Card Script 52 Appendix D: Power Card 53 Appendix E: Student/Teacher Data Collection Form 54 Appendix F: Teacher Fidelity to Pre-Intervention Protocol Form 55 Appendix G: Teacher Fidelity to Intervention Protocol Form 56


ii List of Tables Table 1 Reliability Table 58 Table 2 Post Study Teacher Questionnaire (General Education Teacher) 59 Table 3 Post Study Teacher Questionnaire (Exceptional Education Teacher) 60 Table 4 Goal and Outcome Rating Scale (Exceptional Education Teacher) 61 Table 5 Goal and Outcome Rating Scale (General Education Teacher) 62


iii List of Figures Figure 1 Graph of Student On-Task Behavior 28 Figure 2 Graph of Teachers Gesture Behavior 30 Figure 3 Graph of Teachers Verbal Behavior 31 Figure 4 Graph of Teachers Proximal Behavior 31


iv Use of the Power Card Strategy as an Intervention with an Elementary School Student with Asperger Syndrome: Increas ing On-Task Behavior in the General Education Setting Jane Devenport ABSTRACT It has been slightly more than a de cade since Asperger syndrome was recognized as a distinct sub-category of autism disorder and was first given a diagnostic category in the DSM-IV. An abundance of suggestions, ideas, and recommendations for treatment have been offe red, yet there is only a limited amount of research that empirically eval uates these interventions. This study explores an intervention, the Power Card Strategy (PCS), previously demonstrated to be effective with improvi ng social behaviors with a young girl with autism, by employing t he students area of special interest. An advantage to this intervention is it is relatively easy to implement, requires minimal time, and the cost is virtually nil. This study us ed a reversal design to investigate the utility of the Power Card Strategy to incr ease on-task behavior during teacher-directed math instruction in a general education clas s. The results of this study suggest that the PCS was effective for increasing on-task behavior with this student. An upward trend was observed in the students on-task behavior during the intervention condition. Upon return to the baseline condition, the students on-


v task behavior stabilized at levels observed during intervention, suggesting that skills acquired during the intervention phase maintained.


1 Chapter One Introduction Hans Asperger (1906-1980), a Viennese physi cian who specialized in pediatrics, is credited for giving the first insights into Asperger Syndrome. Asperger observed that a select group of boys, with whom he came into contact, demonstrated notably unusual characteristics of social peculiarities and social isolation, although their cognitive and language development appeared within normal limits (Myles & Simpson 2002; Gu tstein &Whitney, 2002). Along with these peculiarities, Asperger recognized positive attributes, including a high level of independent thinking and a propensity for special achievement (Cumine, Leach, & Stevenson, 1998). Of further interest to As perger was the impact the boys behavior appeared to have on other s with whom the boys interacted, especially their parents and teachers, and the boys susceptibility to bullying and teasing by peers (Cumine, Leach, & Stevenson, 1998). In 1944 Asperger presented his paper, Autistic psychopathies in childhood explaining this developmental condition (Cumine, Leach, & Stevens, 1998). However, his work went unnoticed due to complications presented by World War II. The fact that Asperger s paper was written in German further prolonged English speaking clinicians fr om having access to this information (Henderson, 2001; Safran, Safran, & Ellis 2003). It was not until 1981 when Wing introduced literature on Hans Asperger s vital work, along with her own, that this syndrome began to receive increasing attention (Myles, 2002; Safran, Safran, & Ellis, 2003). Another influent ial variable that further advanced the


2 recognition of this syndrome as a di stinct sub-category of autism was the translation and publication of Hans Aspergers paper into English in 1991 (Cumine, Leach, & Stevenson, 1998); and in 1994, the inclusion of the disorder as a diagnostic category in the Diagnosti c and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersFourth Edition (DSM-IV; Am erican Psychiatric Association, 1994) (Henderson, 2001; Smith My les & Simpson, 2002). Griswold, Barnhill, and Smith Myles (2002), discussed the prevalence of Asperger Syndrome (AS) indi cating that according to Kadesjo, Gillberg, and Hagberg (1999), of every 10,000 births there are 48 cases of AS, and it appears to occur more frequently in males, with a likely ratio of 10 boys to every girl (Cumine, Leach, & Stevenson, 1998). T he DSM-IV-TR Manual indicates that Asperger Syndrome falls under the main category of Pervasive Develop Mental Disorders and distinguishes the syndrome from Autism Disorder pointing out that, in contrast to Autism Disorder, there are no clinically significant delays in language, cognitive development, or in t he development of ageappropriate selfhelp skills, adaptive behavior areas (social interactions being the exception), and no significant lack of interest in th e environment. The manual gives the diagnostic criteria for Asperger s Disorder as the following: A. Qualitative impairment in social in teraction, as manifested by at least two of the following: 1) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-toeye gaze, facial expr ession, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction


3 2) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level 3) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people) 4) Lack of social or emotional reciprocity B. Restricted repetitive and stereoty ped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following: 1) encompassing preoccupation wit h one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus 2) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals 3) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements) 4) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other impor tant areas of functioning. D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years). E. There is no clinically significant de lay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate se lf-help skills, adaptive behavior


4 (other than in social interactions ), and curiosity about the environment in childhood. F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia. There is debate within psychiatry and ment al health fields as to whether Asperger Syndrome can actually be differ entiated from High Functioning Autism (HFA) (McLaughlin-Cheng, 1998; Safran, 2001; Meyer & Mineshew, 2002). An article published in 1995 by Klin, Volkmar, Sparrow, Cicchetti, and Rouke examined the validity of AS by comparing the neuropsycho logical profiles in this condition and HFA. The study suggested that an empirical distinction existed because the group differentiated significantly in eleven neuropsychological areas. As pointed out by Safran, 2001, t here have been a number of studies investigating various characteristics of the disorder, such as pragmatics, pedantic speech, and interpersonal awareness. T he outcomes of these studies generally support differential diagnosis. However, Safran (2001) refers to Szatmaris (1998) literature review on this topic. Sz atmari concludes that data relating to differential diagnosis of AS from HFA are conflicting. Safran (2001) refers to Kunce and Mesibov (1998) to bring a level of resolve to this issue, stating: While the stigma of labeling has been debated for decades in special education, understanding and awareness of AS by educat ors and parents is the crucial first step. Accura te diagnosis therefore serves as a vehicle to convey information, but does not substitute fo r individualized instru ction. Without diagnosis, however, adults may view AS-re lated behaviors as being intentional,


5 blaming youngsters for failing to control t heir often socially undesirable actions. Further, without appropriate educational su pports, students may be left to fend for themselves in a world where social cues hold little meaning, where repeated failure in interpersonal relationships creat es anxiety and social rejection. Until demonstrated otherwise, individua lized programming accompanied by understanding of the syndrome remains t he recommended course of intervention (p.153). Currently there is no clear-cut asse ssment procedure that can definitively confirm the diagnosis of Asperger Syndr ome. The diagnosis must be inferred through careful interpretation of behavior patterns and various types of assessment including intellectual ability academic achievement, developmental history, adaptive behavior, and motor skills (Cumine, Leach, & Stevenson, 1998; Myles & Simpson, 1998). Myles and Simps on (2002) indicate that it is common for most clinicians and other professionals to use the DSM-IV-TR criteria for the purpose of making a diagnosis. They conclu de, however, that this source falls short in providing a broad and complete und erstanding of the disorder, in that it fails to thoroughly address the characterist ics that most directly relate to and affect school performance. Therefore, Myles and Simpson (2002) stress the importance of educators having a solid understanding of this disorder in order to effectively meet the needs of these students. They state school professionals must have a working knowledge of the school-related social, behavioral/emotional, intellectual/cogni tive, academic, sensory, and motor


6 characteristics of students with AS to effe ctively meet these individuals complex and variable school, home and community needs (p.2). In an attempt to give a clearer pi cture of the soci al, academic, and behavioral experiences of children ident ified with Asperger syndrome Church, Alisanski, and Amanullah (2000) conducted a study involving 40 children with AS between the ages of 3 and 15 years. The study illustrated that both across time and within age groups the children had unique but similar developmental paths. These variances, as well as, consistencies were apparent in their social, academic, and behavioral experiences. This study by Church, et al., demonstrated several important points wo rth noting. First, they emphasized very specific problems that appeared to co rrelate to stages of maturation: The behavioral issues and early sensory issues of preschoolers were felt to be dramatic. During elementary school many of the children were diagnosed with Asperger syndrome as their social skills deficits became more prominent. During middle school, children began fee ling their differences and expressed sadness, anxiety, and rejection. Teenager s faced increasing anxiety, obsessivecompulsive tendencies, behavioral chall enges, and ever-changing social skills deficiencies. These age-related areas of difficulty need to be targeted for intervention (p. 20).Secondly, social skills abilities among the 40 children in the study were wide-ranging, but remained t he most profoundly challenging area of concern for all involved (Church, Alis anski, & Amanullah, 2000). Cumine, Leach, & Stevenson (1998) point out that m any children with Asperger syndrome can develop interpersonal skills, usually bet ween the ages of 9 and 14. However,


7 this is believed to be a significant delay when compared to typical children who usually develop these skills by age 4. T he literature suggests that much of the social ineptness on the part of AS ch ildren may, in part, be due to Mind Blindness. In 1985, Baron-Cohen, Leslie and Frith theorized t hat individuals with autism suffer from a form of Mind Blindne ss or lack, of what they refer to as, Theory of Mind (Cumine, Leach, & Stev enson, 1998; Myles & Simpson 2002). The premise of this purports that children with autism di splay a significant deficit in their ability to recognize or read the feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and intentions of other people and to respond accordingly (McAfee, 2002). Regarding children identified with AS, Neihart, B illings and Montana (2000) state: Theory of mind also subsumes the ability to take perspective; to be aware of oneself and to take another perspective at the same time. Children with AS have great difficulty understanding the perspective of others which is what makes their social adjustment so challenging (p. 224). Cumine, Leach, and Stevenson (1998) refer to Jordan and Powell (1995) who identify a number of educational im plications associ ated with Theory of Mind insufficiencies, such as: difficult y with predicting and reading intention or understanding motives behind the behavior of others, leading to fear and avoidance of other people; difficulty in understanding the emotions of others, as well as their own, leading to the inability to empathize; difficulty understanding that behavior affects how others think or feel, leading to a lack of motivation to please. These are just some of exampl es of the hurdles with social impairment as they are presented in AS. Therefore, it has been proposed that it is not the


8 lack of desire for social engagement, on the part of the individual with AS, but a triad of impairments that result in an underlying social deficit (Cumine, Leach, & Stevenson, 1998), leaving the AS individual ill-equipped to handle various social situations. All too frequently, t he result of this is social isolation (Neihart, Billings & Montana 2000). Cumine, Leach, and Stevenson (1998) ex plore two other theories, Central Coherence Deficit and Executive Functioning Deficit, in an attempt to further explain features that contribute to im paired functioning in students with Asperger syndrome. Cumine, Leach, and Stevenson (1998) site the work of Uta Frith (1989) who describes central coherence as the ability to pull together assorted information to generate higher-level meaning in context. Some characteristics of Central Coherence Deficit, includes the insistence on sameness, attention to detail rather than the whole, obsessiona l preoccupations, and the existence of special skills (Cumine, Leach, & Stevenson, 1998). Executive Functioning Deficit can be described as the ability to plan and organize tasks, monitor ones own performance, control unsuitable response s, accept constructive criticism or feedback, and suppress distracti ng stimuli (McAfee, 2002). McAffee points out that the educational implicat ions of deficits in executive functioning are immense as they frequently affect the AS students ability to ac complish many of the work and self-help tasks associated with success in school environments. As the number of children being i dentified with Asperger syndrome continues to grow, educational professi onals are finding that their ability to effectively serve this population is an ex tremely challenging endeavor (Myles &


9 Simpson 2002). The literature suggests t hat much of the diffi culties stem from an inadequate understanding rela ted to the perplexities of this disorder and the seemingly contradictory c haracteristics of AS (Myle s & Simpson 2002; McAfee, 2002; Neihart & Billings, 2000). Myle s and Simpson (2002) offer one such example, suggesting that educators fi nd it challenging to separate the AS students ability for verbosity from a true understanding of language. In other words, AS students tend to sound more competent than they really are, potentially leading to inaccurate assu mptions of the stu dents academic and social abilities. Cumine, Leach, and Stevenson (1998) point out that the AS student may have a wealth of knowledge, but may lack the ability to apply the knowledge in meaningful way. Finally, Church, Alisanski, and Amanullah (2000) advise the child with AS may yet face another challenge, looking normal; implying that disabilities are typica lly judged by society on outward appearances. Therefore, the literat ure suggests that the first st ep towards planning effective interventions for the student with Asperger syndrome is to have a comprehensive understanding of the educationa l implications associated with the psychological theories of Theory of Mi nd, Central Coherence Deficit, and, Executive Functioning Deficit (Cumine, Leach, & St evenson, 1998). Because the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome as a distinct sub-category of Autism Disorder is relatively new, limitations of time have impacted t he extensive development of intervention programs specifically des igned and empirically researched for these students (support this notion, suggesting that t he research in the area of Asperger syndrome is in its early stages, especially when it comes to an understanding of


10 the academic achievements of individuals with this disorder. They contend that further research is needed to develop an empirical foundation for understanding the academic characteristics of student with AS; and in order for educators to identify and implement the best instru ctional methods for students with AS. Safran, et al (2003) suggest that, in fact, most AS specific interventions are from descriptive, anecdotal reports and that the majority of the practices that assert to be research-based are actually generalized from studies with related disability groups. Therefore, Safran, et al (2003) recommend that in order for professionals to develop acumen for the best school based approaches, they must combine the most relevant research with carefully reported case studies. The best knowledge-based practice accordi ng to Safran, et al (2003) includes intervention strategies in the context of Academics, Behavior, and Communication. Simpson and Smith Myle s (1998) discuss ways to structure the environment for social success. They suggest that the AS st udent responds best when clear instructions for appropriate social behaviors are provided and accompanied by models clearly demonstrat ing the acceptable behavior, when opportunities are offered to practice t he acceptable behavior, and when feedback is given for acceptable and unacceptable social performance (Simpson & Smith Myles, 1998). They also recommend build ing on the AS students preference for predictability, order and consistency, by offering a schedule that outlines the daily events and forewarns of any change in r outine can assist in setting up a successful environment for the AS indi vidual. While dat a are limited on the effectiveness of the following strategies, there is descriptive literature that


11 suggest that social skills training, social stories, and structured teaching may be useful for, and merits more research for students ident ified with Asperger syndrome (Safran, 2001). The descriptive literature suggests that social stories aid in addressing the theory of mind defic its frequently apparent wit h student with AS (GoldenEdelson, 2003). According to Swaggar t, Gagnon, Jones Bock, Earles, Quin, Smith Myles, and Simpson (1995), a social story describes social situations in terms of relevant social cues and appropr iate responses (p.1). Golden Edelson (2003) explains that Carol Gray, the develope r of social stories seeks to include answers to questions that these students need to know to allow for appropriate interactions in social situations. H agiwara and Smith Myles (1999) refer to the work of Gray and Garand (1993), who emphasize that this instructional technique, which uses pictures or sym bols along with short sentences put in a small book format, provides a means to reduce the confusion for individuals with autism that is brought on by verbal instru ctions and social interactions. Social stories include four types of sentences: 1) Descriptive sentences are utilized to describe what people do in parti cular situations; 2) Directive sentences direct the student to an appropriate pref erred response; 3) Perspective sentences present others reactions to a given situation in order to teach the AS person how others perceive various events; and, 4) Control sentences are us ed to identify strategies the person can use to help maintain me mory and comprehension of the social story (Swaggart, Gagnon, Bock, Earles, Qu inn, Smith Myles, & Simpson,1995). Golden Edelson (2003) points out that a benefit of social stories is that they are


12 constructed to address the specific needs of the individual, and, also, they are especially useful in teaching routines, how to complete various activities, how to ask for assistance, and how to behave when confronted with feelings of frustration and anger. Although no specific study involving persons identified with AS has been located, a study by Lorimar, Simpson, Smith Myles, and Ganz (2002) was conducted to determine the efficacy of a social story intervention in a home setting with a five-year-old boy with autism. However, consistent with students identified with AS, this boys cognitive ability was estimated to be in the average to above average rage, he could communicate his wants and needs within normal limits for his age-range, his main speech deficits were in the area of social pragmatics, he ex hibited some obsessive compulsive behavior, and received occupational therapy to address fine motor skills development and sensory integration concerns. Usi ng an ABAB design the intervention was constructed with the goal of decreasing pr ecursors to tantrum behavior. Two social stories were presented and withdrawn while using an event recording procedure in which the frequency of interr upting verbalizations, determined to be precursors to tantrum behavior, were tallied. Results revealed a dramatic decrease in interrupting verbalizations and tantrums when the social stories were initially introduced following the baseline condition, a return to baseline condition resulted in a clear upward trend in target behaviors, and finally, upon reintroduction of the social story inte rvention, the target behaviors took a dramatic downward trend.


13 There is a vast collection of literature on the use of social skills training for individuals with various disabilitie s and a wide range of ages. However, according to Barnhill, Cook, Tebbenkam p, and Smith Myles (2002) few studies have been carried out that exclusively focu s on social interventions for children with AS. Marriage, Gordon, and Brand (199 5) carried out the only social skills training group in the research literature specifically designed for students with AS. Their research was a descriptive study that included eight boys diagnosed with AS between the ages of 8 and 12. The study utilized role-playing, video taping, and game playing. For the pur pose of measuring improvement, parents were asked to complete a preand post -rating scale. The results of the parent feedback did not indicate t hat the participants successfu lly generalized the skills to home, school, or community settings. However, researchers noted improvements in the acquisition of some sp ecific social skills with most of the participants. In 2002, Barnhill, Cook, Tebbenkamp, and Smith Myles conducted a study to investigate the usefulness of a social skills intervention targeting nonverbal communication (deciphering varying tones of voice and rates of speech, understanding nonverbal sound patterns, gain ing meaning from others marked emphases in speech, and facial expre ssions of others). The participants included eight adolescents with AS and relat ed pervasive developmental delays. To assess the participants nonverbal language skills a diagnostic tool, The Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy 2 (DANVA2; Nowick 1997) was utilized. The DANVA2 included a preand posttest measure. Training was


14 conducted over an eight-week period and employed several teaching strategies that included role-playing, modeling, and reinforcement through feedback. The first four weeks focused on teachi ng paralanguage; the la st four weeks emphasized identifying and responding appropriately to the facial expressions of others. The results of t he study demonstrated statistica lly insignificant gains in nonverbal communication skills developm ent. However, the researchers indicated that two major outcomes emer ged that were encouraging: 1) Some social relationships between the partici pants developed and maintained after the study was concluded; and, 2) Following intervention several of the participants continued to demonstrate the ability to ident ify the facial expressions of others they encountered in the natural community settings, although they did not appear to respond appropriately to the emotions being expressed (Barnhill, et al, 2002). Charlop and Milstein (1983) suggested that as a te aching tool, modeling is cost-efficient and convenient. As an instructional method, modeling is one procedure that has shown promise for prom oting the acquisition of new skills and generalization for autistic children (Charlop & Milstein, 1989). Currently, the use of video technology is growing as a promis ing instructional tool with children with a variety of disabilities (Strumey, 2003). Since its inception it has been utilized in the field of exceptional st udent education to advance behavioral interventions in areas such as social skills training (DAteno, Mangiapanello, & Taylor, 2003), language acquisition (Wert & Neiswo rth, 2003), and academic performance (Kinney, Vedora, & Stromer, 2003). Howeve r, using this technology to create interventions has not been specifically targeted for use with the AS population,


15 therefore, it is necessary to review res earch involving individuals within a closely related disability group, such as high f unctioning autism. In 1989, Charlop and Milstein conducted a study using a video modeling procedure. The participants in the study were three boys with autism. Based on their assessed mental ages, presence of speech and evidence of some social skills, all three boys were considered to be high functioning. In sp ite of these findings the boys rarely asked questions, participated in spontaneous speech, or engaged in conversation, and their history of general izing newly acquired speech skills was poor. Though attempts had been made to t each conversational skills through traditional prompting and reinforcement procedures, the boys failed to acquire the skills. The study required the boys to watch videotaped conversations consisting of two individuals discussing particular toys. When the boys had met the criteria that had been set for learning (vocal response that were the same or similar as those presented in t he video model), generalization of the conversational skills acquired was then assessed. This was accomplished by presenting untrained topics of conversati on, a different toy, unfamiliar persons, and different settings. The results of the study supported the use of video modeling to promote conv ersational speech, and the children were able to generalize and maintain the skills learned over a period of 15-months. Keeling, Smith Myles, Gagnon, and Simp son (2002) refer to a study done by Mercier and colleagues (2000) whose investigation concluded that individuals with autism spectrum disor ders who have narrowly framed areas of interest find these special interests highly reinforcing. Working from this premise, Keeling et


16 al, investigated a technique called the Power Card Stra tegy (Gagnon, 2001) in order to empirically examine the use of a special interest or obsessive preoccupation to increase socially acceptable behavior. The Power Card Strategy is a visually based strategy that consists of two parts: a personalized script and a Power Card. The script, which is typically read to the individual prior to the problematic event, contains the following components: 1) A brief scenario, written at the individuals comprehension level that focuses on the persons special in terest and the behavior of concern or troubling circumstance. If per tinent, visual representations of the special interest may be included; 2) The scenario presents a solution to the problem, similar to the one experienced by the i ndividual, but is implement ed through the special interest model or hero; 3) Also, the scenar io gives a rationale for why it is in the best interest of the special interest her o or model to use a positive behavior; 4) The problem-solving method is outlined by presenting the brief, three to five step strategy used by the special interest model or hero, including how success is experienced by the model or hero; and, finally, 5) A motiva tional note to the individual that encourages the use of the new behavior that was demonstrated to be successful when implemented by the special interest model or hero (Keeling, Smith Myles, Gagnon, & Simpson, 2003). The participant in the study by Keeling et al, was a 10-year-old girl with a diagnosis of autism who had a significant interest in Po wer Puff Girls. The girl exhibited poor sportsmanship behaviors, in the form of disapproving vocalizations, whining, and screaming, when she lost a leisure or academic game, resulting in her peers avoiding


17 playing games with her. This study empl oyed a single-subject, multiple-baselineacross-conditions design. Duration data were collected on the target behaviors across three game conditions. During baseli ne, the girl engaged in the targeted inappropriate behaviors across all settings. During intervention, when the power card script and card, featuring the Pow der Puff Girls, were introduced the behaviors steadily decreased resulting in no display of the target behaviors by the final phase of the study (Keeling, Smith Myles, Gagnon, & Simpson, 2003. As Keeling, et al, (2003) suggest, perhaps the mo st significant result of this study was related to the issue of generalization. Anecdotal reports indicated that the student began to independently transfer t he new responses to novel game situations with peers. According to Keeling, Smith Myles, Gagnon, and Simpson (2003) the Power Card Strategy appears to propos e an adaptable and resourceful process by which appropriate replacement behaviors can be taught. Keeling, et al, also, emphasize that particularl y with students who have a hyper-focus in a special interest area, such as students with AS, and who tend to respond well to cognitively oriented and cognitive behav iorally based intervention, the Power Card Strategy has wide-ranging potential. The literature with regards to AS c onsistently emphasizes that students identified with this disorder often lack the skills necessary to manage the day-today routines and social demands presented by the school environment (Cumine Leach & Stevenson, 1998). The interv entions mentioned abov e all appear to offer viable solutions to many of t he behavioral dilemmas presented by students


18 identified with AS. However, when determining the appropriateness of any behavioral intervention, one must consi der the context in which it will be implemented. Because of their aver age to above average intelligence, the research suggests that students identif ied with Asperger Sy ndrome are often served in a general education setting (Neihart & Billings, 2000). That being the case, it is known that the circumst ances faced by most general education teachers typically involve large class size s, limited resources, and little time for planning. Therefore, it is imperative that practicality, utility, and feasibility be of utmost importance when choosing an interv ention under these conditions. Of the interventions that were explored, the Power Card Strategy appeared to meet these requirements, as it is relatively simple to develop, t he time and training requirement for implementation is minimal, and the cost is virtually nil. Therefore, the goal of the present study was to a ssess the effectiveness of using the Power Card Strategy to emphasize specific behaviors to promote successful classroom functioning in a general education cl assroom with an elementary student diagnosed with Asper ger Syndrome.


19 Chapter Two Method Participants and Setting The Coordinator for Exceptional St udent Education (ESE) services is responsible for programming for Autistic Programs in St. Johns County School District, and she suggested potential participants for this study. She identified five potential participants, and a screening took place using a teacher questionnaire. This was developed by the researcher to address issues relevant to the criteria needed for participation in this study (see Appendix A). In order for the students to be included in the study, the teacher had to answer affirmatively to all questions. The researcher predetermined that confirmatory answers were necessary for inclusion in this study for the following reasons: 1) the Power Card intervention hinges on using the students area of special interest or a highly admired person to influence behavior chan ge; 2) noncompliance associated with classroom expectation is an essential co mponent to the study with regards to functioning within the general education classroom, and finally, 3) this procedure uses visual cues to prompt behavior. These areas are addressed on the questionnaire and therefore s upport the rationale for using this questionnaire to screen potential participants (see Appendix A). From the five potential participants, two elementary students with a medical diagnosis of Asper ger Syndrome (AS) were i dentified as meeting the criteria to participate in this study. Documentation of this diagnosis was included in the students school records. Both participants attended two different public


20 schools in a medium size school district in a metropolitan area in a southern state. The students had been identified as eligible for exceptional student education services, but received the majority of their instruction in the regular education setting. The first participant, Steven, was a 10-yr-old Caucasian boy who had been determined to be eligible for two exce ptional education programs: Autistic and Gifted. Steven has a full-scale intellectual quotient of 135. Steven has attended a mainstream campus for his ent ire educational career. During his fourth grade year he briefly attended a program for gifte d students at another school. While in the gifted program, his t eachers found it difficult to address his inability to conform to the classroom ex pectations and routines associated with the gifted program. After several mont hs, his parents withdrew him from the gifted program and returned him to the general education setting with Exceptional Student Education (ESE) s upport. During the 2003 2004 school year, Steven received all of his instructi on in grade five in the general education classroom with consultative support from the ESE teacher. Typically the ESE teacher was utilized for test-taking situations (Steven came to her class to take tests), for assistance in fi nishing incomplete assignments, and for social skills training. Informed consent was obtained fr om this participant and his parents, as well as the teacher, following the Instit utional Review Board guidelines of the University of South Florida Initially, a second potential participant was identified. However, in the process of obtaining inform ed consent from this parti cipant and his parents, the


21 parents opted out of this study as they concurrently had been pursuing intervention recommendations from a priv ate source and decided that this study could potentially interfere with this pursuit. Consequently, this study only involved one participant, Stev en. Due to the low preval ence of AS, it was not possible to identify a second participant. The study was conducted in Steven s general education classroom at an elementary school in a small city in a southern state. The school serves approximately 600 students, grades K through 5. Stevens general education classroom had a total of twenty-three student s. Of the twenty-three students, six were also identified as exceptional education students. Stevens general education teacher had been employed as an in structor at the sch ool for ten years and held a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, and a Masters degree in Educational Leadership. She was certified in the area of Elementary Education by the Florida Department of Education. Target Behavior Stevens teacher was interviewed for the purpose of identifying a target behavior. It was determined that Steven had difficult y with specific behaviors during whole-group, teacher-directed instruction time, more specifically, during math lessons. Prior to beginning this study, a functional behavior assessment was conducted by the district behavior specialist that included the completion of a teacher interview, a motivational a ssessment scale and a direct observation using an A-B-C recording format. It had been reported that math had always been Stevens least favorite subject. Though on occasion Steven would exhibit


22 difficulty with staying on-task during instruct ion that involved other subjects, this difficulty did not occur consistently or to such a marked degree that it interfered with his ability to make academic progr ess and to benefit from or hinder the learning of others in the general education setting. Based on all the information gathered, it was hypothesized that the o ff-task behavior functioned as a means to escape a non-preferred task / demand (math instruction) and was maintained by access to positive reinforcement (i.e., access to books, drawing / doodling, walking around the classroom, lo oking at objects, etc.). Target Behavior Definitions The target behavior for the student wa s on-task behavior. It was defined as: head oriented toward the teacher or on directed task / materials; at least one buttock maintaining contact with the chair. Target behaviors were also identified for the teacher. The purpose was to analyze whether or not teacher behavior impacted student responding. For the teacher, data were collected on the following three behaviors: 1) gesture behavior: any hand movement, or finger pointing directed at the student such as, teacher taps on the students desk, a hand signal to sit down or return to seat, or any physical contact, such as, a tap on the shoulder, etc.; 2) ver bal behavior: any vocalizati on directed at the student; 3) proximal behavior: the teacher moves within two-thirds of a meter of the students desk and / or body.


23 Materials and Procedure Materials needed to conduct this study included three items: (1) Expectations Script (2) a Power Ca rd script); and (3) a Power Card. As the Power Card Strategy involved interaction between the teacher and student, a pre-intervention condition called the expectations phase was introduced in order to rule out increas ed teacher attention as a controlling variable. During this condition, the t eacher introduced a script to the student, the length of which was approxim ately equivalent to the duration of time required for interaction during the intervention condition. This script emphasized the importance and rationale of following school expectations, and included behaviors such as, walking quietly in the hallway, staying in seat during instruction, attending to the teacher during lessons, and completing assignments. In other words, desired behaviors that help to maintain order in the school environment (see Appendix B). As in the intervention condition, the teacher was directed to approach the student within ten minutes of t he beginning of the math lesson. She then gave the student the choi ce of having the script read to him or reading it aloud. After reading the script or listening to the student read it, the teacher instructed the student to return to his seat. The Power Card Strategy (PCS) uses an antecedent control procedur e. A scenario was composed that described how the participants highly admired person had himself or herself experienced the same problem situati on that the participant was experiencing and offered a solution to the problem (Appendix C). Informal interviews with the parent and teacher, and personal observation by the researcher, provided the


24 information for determining the students sp ecial area of interest and/or highly admired person. The parent was asked to i dentify the people, things, or activities that they observed the student consistently engaging with or talking about. Of these identified, the parent was asked to determine which was considered to be of strongest interest to t he child. Once identified by the parent, the researcher interviewed the teacher to determine if t he identified special interest area was also prevalent in the school environment. The Power Card script and Power Card was developed using the procedure outlined by Gagnon (2001). Th is procedure consisted of writing a scenario and developing a Power Card t hat was consistent with the students reading and comprehension level, and utilizi ng a print size that was individualized for the student. The script was written in first person and in the present tense. The first paragraph of the script summariz ed how the hero or special interest person related to the topic of concern, followed by a section that provided a solution to the problem. Next, the script incorporated a section that related this solution to the students particular situat ion. The Power Card was composed on a 3 x 5 card and contained a synopsis of the alternative behaviors that had been identified for the student to engage in during the problem situation. The card also had a picture of the students i dentified special interest person. In Stevens case it was Bill Nye the Science Guy (See Appendix D). Because the problem behavior occurred during whole-group, teacherdirected math lessons, the teachers was asked to identify an observation time that met the following crit eria: 1) for each observation session there would be an


25 equal opportunity for the occurrence or non-occurrence of the behavior, and 2) for each observation session the conditions would be consistent from one session to the next. Given these criteria the teacher identified one time each school day that met these conditions. Therefore it was det ermined that the observations would occur each morning du ring the teacher-directed math lesson at approximately 10:30a.m., and would la st for ten minutes in duration. During the baseline phase of this st udy the normal classroom procedures were in effect. No changes occurred in t he teaching procedures or instructional practices. Following the bas eline and pre-intervention conditions, the script and the Power Card were introduced to the st udent. During this phase, the teacher was directed to approach the student withi n ten minutes prior to a group lesson, and then would ask the student if he preferr ed the script to be read to him or to read it aloud. Each day prior to th e observation sessions, the student or the teacher read the script and then reviewed t he Power Card. If the student chose to read the script, the t eacher stayed and listened as it was read aloud. Following the reading of the script and review of the Power Card, the teacher directed the student back to his seat to prepare for the group lesson. She then placed the Power Card in close proximity to the student on a board approximately one meter from the side of his seat. Experimental Design and Data Collection This study employed a single-subject, A-B-C-A reversal design. Data collection occurred in the general education setting. A ten-second whole-interval recording procedure was implemented. This was determined to be the most


26 appropriate form of data collection becaus e it produces an underestimate, rather than overestimate of the behavior (Cooper, He ron, & Heward, 1987). This being the case, after the observer(s) had been cued that an interval had begun, using a beep from a signaling device, the st udents target behaviors had to be continuously present during the entire interv al in order for the observer to record it as an occurrence of the target behavio r. For the teachers target behaviors (gesture, verbal, or proximal), a par tial-interval recording procedure was implemented. Any occurrence of the target behaviors was recorded as an occurrence if observed during any time during the ten-second interval (see Appendix E). Reliability For Steven, the ESE teacher acted as the primary data collector and the principal investigator was the second observer, along with a trained school staff member who assisted when the principal investigat or was not available. The principal investigator trained both observers. Prio r to the implementat ion of the study, training was conducted on the data colle ction procedure. The primary and second observers were asked to observe the participant during whole-group instruction for math. Using the same data collection procedure and form that was used in the study, the observers were a sked to collect data on the participants during 2-minute training sessions. T he data collectors were required to demonstrate an average of 80% accuracy over five consecutive training sessions. For student behavior the primar y data collector had a range of scores between 50 percent and 100 percent and a mean score of 90 percent. For


27 teacher behavior, the prim ary data collector had a range of scores between 60 and 100 percent and a mean score of 88 percent. The second back-up data collector had a range of scores for student behavior that ranged between 80 and 100 percent with a mean score of 96 percent. For teacher behavior, the second back-up data collector had a range of scores that ranged between 90 and 100 percent and a mean score of 96 percent. During each session the observer(s) stood in the teacher planning area with the door slightly open, and observed through a one-way window. When a second observer was present, the observers stood at least three feet apart from one another. A low-volume beeping device signaled the st art / end of each tensecond interval. Data collectors did not confer about data scoring. Treatment fidelity was assessed using task analysis of the behaviors the teacher(s) was directed to engage in, in order to adhere to the pre-intervention and interventionprotocol (see Appendix F and G).


Chapter Three Results This study was designed to assess the influence that the Power Card Strategy could have on teaching on-task behaviors to a ten-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome. Figure 1 gives a graphic display of the percentage of time Steven engaged in on-task behavior across the four conditions (baseline, pre-intervention, intervention and return to baseline) measured in this study. Participant 10%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%12345678910111213141516171819SessionPercentage of On Task Behavior BaselinePre-interventionInterventionReturn to Baseline Figure 1: Illustration of the participants behavior across the four study conditions. During baseline, Stevens on-task behavior was well below expectation. The initial baseline condition took place over six sessions. There was little variability between the first two data points with measures ranging between zero percent and six percent; however, on session three a significant upward trend of the dependent measure was produced. Therefore, three more sessions took 28


29 place before a gradual decreasing vari able trend was observed and a phase change was introduced. It should be noted that even the highest data point measured during this condition was far below a level considered acceptable for classroom behavior. The initial baseli ne mean was 41.6 percent for time on-task during six math instruction sessions. During the pre-intervention condition, when the Expectations Script was introduced, four data points were collected throughout sessions seven through ten. Initially, sessions seven and eight produced a stable level of responding, but more variable responding was measured in sessions nine and ten. Over all, a downward line of progress was produced across these four sessions and, therefore, the study proceeded onto the intervention condition. During the pr e-intervention condition a baseline mean of 35.2 percent of time on-task was produc ed. Also, teacher / student contact time for presentation of the expectati ons script was measured during 50 percent of the pre-intervention sessions with times ranging between 102 seconds to 107 seconds. During the treatment phase, sessi ons eleven through fourteen, an immediate upward trend of the dependent variable was exhibited. This was followed by a stable level of responding wit h little variability during the last three sessions of this phase. Throughout these four sessions, a significant improvement in on-task behavior was obser ved. An intervention mean of 87.2 percent of time on-task was measured durin g this condition. Again, teacher / student contact time was measured. During the intervention phase the presentation of the power card script and card to the student was measured


during 50 percent of the intervention sessions with times ranging between 110 seconds to 126 seconds in duration. Following the treatment phase, the baseline condition was reintroduced. Initially, the first session resulted in a drop in the percentage of time on-task to 71 percent, which was still well above the baseline and pre-intervention conditions; and, an upward trend followed. All five sessions during this return to baseline phase resulted in a mean of 88.4 percent of time-on task. Throughout this study specific teacher behaviors were also measured concurrently with student behavior during observation sessions. As seen in Figures 2, 3, and 4, with the exception of proximal behaviors, a low, stable level of responding was observed across all conditions. With regards to proximal Teacher Gesture Behavior 0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%12345678910111213141516171819SessionPercentage BaselinePre-interventionInterventionReturn to Baseline Figure 2: Illustration of the teachers gesture behavior across study conditions 30


Teacher Verbal Behavior0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%12345678910111213141516171819SessionPercentage BaselinePre-interventionInterventionReturn to Baseline Figure 3: Illustration of the teachers verbal behavior across study conditions Teacher Proximal Behavior0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%12345678910111213141516171819SessionPercentage BaselinePre-interventionInterventionReturn to Baseline Figure 4: Illustration of the teachers proximal behavior across study conditions behavior, variability was present during baseline and pre-intervention conditions; however, during each of these conditions a downward trend was observed. 31 Upon visual analysis of the graphic displays, there was no convincing evidence


32 re d Table Due to the conclusion of the present school year, the study ended. It may be sign the tween that teacher behavior had a correlation to changes in student behavior. Teacher fidelity to protocol for teacher / student interaction during the pre-intervention / expectations phase was also measured throughout 50 percent of the sessions with a mean score of 100 percent. Inter-observer agreement was measured during the expectations phase for 25 perc ent of the sessions with a mean sco of 100 percent. Teacher fidelity to protoc ol was measured during 50 percent of the sessions during the intervention / power card strategy phase. Scores range between 67.2 and 100 percent, with a mean sco re of 83.6 percent for adherence to protocol. Inter-observer agreement on teacher fidelity to protocol was measured for 25 percent of the sessions with a mean score of 100% (See 1). ificant to note that even though the study was concluded in nineteen sessions the course of the study took place over a two month period. The discrepancy between sessions and school da ys was due to interruptions in normal school schedule, such as testing, special events or holidays, as wells occasional absences on the part of the student or staff mem bers involved with the study. Originally a single-subject, reversal design had been planned to demonstrate experimental control. This design is the most clear-cut and compelling single-subject design for demons trating a functional relation be a treatment procedure and behavior (Cooper, He ron, & Heward, 1987). Prior to implementation it had been expec ted that the dependent va riable would return to pre-intervention levels with the removal of the Power Card Strategy during the


33 et the last baseline condition, allowing a reintroduction of the intervention and presumably demonstration of experimental control. Th e fact that the targ behavior maintained at levels above or commensurate with the intervention condition suggests that maintenance of acquired skills was demonstrated for five days of the final baseline condition.


34 Chapter Four The results of this study indi Power Card Strategy (PCS) was effectiv y ially e in ted, the functi onal behavior assessment identified the functio a h Discussion cate t hat the e in increasing t he participants on-task behavior. Although experimental control was not established the data obtained clearly displayed a significant improvement in on-task performance duri ng and after intervention. The stud was also successful in ruling out teac her attention during intervention as a controlling variable. In the absence of ex perimental control, this was espec useful in demonstrating that some va riable within the intervention itself was responsible for the increase in the target behavior, as opposed to the increas time the teacher spent in contact with the student during the presentation of the Power Card Strategy. As previously sta n of the inappropriat e behavior during group instruction as escape from non-preferred task; ther efore, it is important to not e that some change may have occurred with regards to the reinforcing effects of group instruction in order for the on-task behavior to increase during intervention, and then maintain after return to baseline. One explanation would be that na tural consequences, suc as positive social attention from the t eacher and peers for answering correctly or asking relevant questions strengthened the target behavior, and reduced the aversive of effects formally associat ed with the non-preferr ed task, decreasing the need for escape.


35 Another positive point to emphasize about the Power Card Strategy is the many attractive aspects of utilizing this intervention. That is, it was easy to implement, required minimal time, and the cost was virtually nil. These are all characteristics of strategies that are appealing to most teac hers; and, with the current push for inclusion in public education it is an especially desirable strategy for general education teachers who have li ttle time to spend implementing time consuming and complicated interventions. This way of thinking was supported by Axelrod (1992) who pointed out that if we look closely at what teachers need and what behavior analysts tend to provide, we may find that what is often promoted is abstract ideas like fadi ng stimuli and shaping responses while focusing on an isolated skill. If teacher s are expected to develop strategies on their own this may hinder teachers from buying into a behavioral perspective. It would therefore behoove behavior analysts to develop materials that provide for the use of comprehensive, effective st rategies and embed processes such as fading and shaping within the material s themselves (Axelrod, 1992). Furthermore, regarding the issue of a cceptance of the science of applied behavior analysis, Carl Binder (1994) offers some practical advise. He suggests that behavior analysts need to stop operat ing under the assumption that measured results will sell instructional me thodology. He suggests that there may be advantages in adopting methods used in the private ent erprise for the purpose of reducing the barriers oft en confronted when working in applied settings (i.e., schools and classrooms). The Power Card Strategy as an intervention offered many marketable c haracteristics often lacking in typical


36 interventions. This was confirmed by the positive comments regarding the intervention made by general education and exceptio nal education teachers observations of this intervention (see question 1 on Tables 2 and 3). Previous research had suggested that the success of the PCS hinged on the use of the students special interest in a specific way, and supported the theory that obsessive interests, preoccupations, and special a llurements can be used to produce positive behavior change (K eeling, Smith Myles, Gagnon, & Simpson, 2003).) However, the met hods and results of the present study suggest that other variables may hav e contributed to the success of the intervention that were not just related to the use of this student s area of special interest. Though the following conjectu res are based on anecdotal reports, they offer interesting observations that coul d be the focus of future research. It was observed that the Stevens ve rbal behavior did not reflect the outcome of the study. Initially, when the PCS was introduced Steven protested placing the power card on his desk. He indicated that the other students would notice and stated that, I am the only student with issues. The placement of the power card was negotiated to Stevens satisfaction, and inst ead of placement on or in his desk, the power card was plac ed on a board near his desk and in visual range. On several occasions Steven refe rred to the PCS in a negative manner, stating that, It was really lame. This having been the case, it could have resulted in erroneously anticipating that the intervention would be ineffective. One of the interesting aspects of the Power Card Strategy (PCS) as an intervention is the absence of programmed consequences. That is, no


37 reinforcement was provided for use of the PCS. The PCS is an antecedent control procedure. As such, the antecedent stimuli, in this case the special interest character, would theoretically have the ability to control a particular response because it has been associated with certain consequences in the past. It would then be assumed that the effect iveness of the intervention was due to the participants history of reinforcement rela tive to the special interest person. In this case, speculation was raised about the reinforcing value of the power card. One could consider whether the reinforci ng effects of having the students special interest (Bill Nye the Science Guy) associated with the power card were competing with the potential aversive effects of feeling different or singled out from other students. However, despite the students verbalizations that sounded negative, the PCS intervention was effect ive. Another explanation for the positive outcome of this study may be that during the expectations / preintervention condition the removal of a script was established as a negative reinforcer. During this phase a script about school expectations or rules was read each day with or by the student, just as in the intervention phase that followed. After a relatively short peri od of time (4 sessions), the script was removed. This may have established the removal of the script in the intervention condition (power card script and power card) as a negative reinforcer, possibly explaining the maintenance of on-ta sk behavior after the removal of the intervention, in the second baseline condition. It is of further interest that the te acher reported that out-of-seat behavior, which was addressed in the expectations / pre-interv ention condition, decreased


38 after the introduction of the Expectations Script; however on-task behavior in general did not increase, during this condition It is important to note that the power card script and the power card described the desired behavior(s) with greater specificity than the behaviors addressed in the Expectations Script. This leads one to consider the extent to which rule governance may have played a role in controlling the participants increase in the target behavior and ultimately the success of the interventi on. Therefore, another possible area of research would be to evaluate whether it is the review of a script and rules card immediately prior to the probl em situation or the pairing of the special interest area with the script and rules card that is ultimately controlling the behavior. Stokes and Osnes, (1989) referred to Skinner, (1953) w ho explained that generalization is not an activity of the organi sm, it is simply a term that describes the fact that the control acquired by a stimulus is shared by other stimuli with common properties. This being the case, it is interesting to note that even despite the fact that programming for gener alization was not explicitly addressed as a component of this study, reports by the general educati on and exceptional education teachers suggest that generalization of the target behavior and acquisition of untrained behaviors occurr ed following the implementation of the intervention. In response to a social validity questionnaire the general education teacher stated that following the intervention phase of the study she noticed the presence of similar result s during group instruction of other subjects [Steven spent less time out of seat and engaged in fewer off-task behaviors] (see question 6c on Table 2). In reference to the issue of generalization, one could


39 speculate that induction had occurred. The case could be made that, the presence of the common properties (i.e., the same teacher, the same students, the presentation of information in a sim ilar manner, the extraneo us stimuli in the environmental surroundings, etc) were pres ent during group instruction of other subjects, thereby, establishing the in creased probability of the transfer of acquired behaviors in one si tuation (group math instru ction) to another similar condition without specific programming. Stokes and Osnes, (1989) discuss the topic of response generalization. They explain that when a behavior is rein forced there may be an increase in the frequency of other behaviors even in the abs ence of direct reinforcement of these behaviors. This appeared to be the case with Steven. When ask to respond to the question on the social validity ques tionnaire that asked, After the implementation of the Power Card Strategy, did you notice any changes (increases or decreases) in the students behavior (appropriate or inappropriate, social or academic) in other school environments? the general education teacher stated that she obser ved: more participation in recess; participation in the class softball team fo r a tournament; an increase in the amount of work turned in for all subject areas; and, more positive interactions with classmates. The exceptional education teacher responded in a similar manner to the same question, stating that, [this interventi on] not only helped to alleviate bad behaviors and promote good ones, it also prompted a desire for social interaction (see question 8 in Table 4 and 5).


40 Stokes and Baer, 2003, stress th e importance of programming for generalization rather than assuming it will be an automatic bi-product of the intervention. They state, generaliz ation should not be considered merely a passive outcome or side effect of behavior interventions, left ov er by inefficient discrimination training. Generalization should be c onsidered as an active process to be incorporated into applied behavior analysis procedures (p. 126). Further examination of the issue of genera lization relative to this intervention would be an interesting pursuit for a future study, as it would be important to establish if certain characteristics of the mediators used in this study where responsible for producing correct outcomes for the target behaviors in untrained conditions. Furthermore, a future study could be beneficial on several levels. In Stevens case he expressed his discomfort with reading the script in the presence of other students and having the pow er card placed in a location that would make it obvious to t he other students that it was specific to him. This response may not be isolated to Steven, especially at an age and/or grade level when the importance of peer acceptance seems to be magni fied. Therefore, if presented with a case similar to Steven s, a study utilizing the Power Card Strategy could be modified to include all students in a classroom. Some advantages to an approach such as this are: (1) it would eliminate the potential negative effects of a specific student feeli ng singled out or stigmatized; (2) it would establish the conditions for gener alization programming by employing three areas of generalization principles i dentified by Stokes and Osnes (1989): a)


41 exploit current functional contingencies, b) train diversely, and c) incorporate functional mediators. Func tional mediators are stimuli that are present between training and the experience of generalization and occur in such a way that aids or mediates that generalization, most likel y as a discriminativ e stimulus for the performance of that behavior. Mediator s can take different forms, such as physical, social, or verbal stimuli. Typi cally, a mediating stim ulus is one that can be readily transported by the user to a multitude of conditions or is typically accessible in most environments other than the training situation (Stokes & Osnes, 1989). Stokes and Baer, (2003), refer to Baer (1982), who describes these procedures as ones that incorporate self control, self monitoring, and self selection. Stokes and Baer, (2003) emphasize that the successful use of functional mediators relies on their em ployment during t he training process Most, if not all, students could benefit from instruction in and reinforcement of attending skills, so the social relevance of such a study is justified, however, more importantly such an approach c ould be easily structured to promote generalization. For example, if all st udents were included in the study, the teacher could manipulate the conditions so that the special interest area for the student of concern was the fo cus of the script and power card. She could build interest about the special interest area with the other students by first incorporating it into different academic lessons and projects. This would also give the student an appropriate way to focus on the special interest area and build potential avenues for social in teraction with the other students, and, potentially, increased interest in academic work (e.g., the student of concern


42 would then have a topic of conversation t hat he/she is very versed in to talk about with other students that now have a purpose for acquiri ng that information). Once the special interest area was established in this manner the Power Card Strategy could be introduced to the w hole class. Then, before each lesson a different student could read the power card script and revi ew the card instead of only the student of concern. Students c ould have their own power card to keep in, or on their desk along with a class power card to put up in the classroom. The teacher could use, and teach the students to use hand gestures that prompt attending behavior. Students coul d then be encouraged to use these hand gestures to help each other remember to at tend. This would be especially useful if a group contingency was put in place to reinforce attending behaviors exhibited by the group. In this case, students would be more likely to prompt each other to attend as well as reinforce each other fo r exhibiting attending behaviors. In conclusion, it could be said that more questions than answers were raised in the course of this study as it re mains unclear what variable(s) relative to this intervention ultimately lead to it s success in increasing on-task behavior for this student. However, the argument could be made that identific ation of relevant areas of exploration is equally val uable to the science of applied behavior analysis, as it is through these pursuits t hat that we are lead to a more complete technology for use in applied settings.


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48 Smith Myles, B., & Si mpson, R.L., (1998). Asperger Syndrome: A guide for educators and parents Austin, TX: PRO-ED. Smith Myles, B., (2002, Fall) Asperger Syndrome: an overvi ew of characteristics. Focus on Autism and Other De velopmental Disabilities 17(3), 130 Smith Myles, B., & Simpson, R.L., (2002, Fall). Asperger Syndrome: an overview of characteristics. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities 17(3), 132 Stokes, T. F. & Osnes, P.G. (1989). An Operant Purs uit of Generalization. Behavior Therapy. 20 335-337 Strumey, P. (Winter, 2003). Video Technology and Persons with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities: An emerging technology for PBS. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 5 (1), 3-4. Swaggart, B., Gagnon, E., Jones Bock, S., Earles, T., Quinn, C. Smith Myles, B., Simpson, R., (April, 1995). Using social stories to teach social and behavioral skills to children with autism. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 10 (1) pp. 1 16


49 Appendices


Appendix A 50


51 51 Appendix B


Appendix C 52


Appendix D Power C ar d Photo of Bill Nye the Science Guy Copyright @ 2002 Bill Nye Inc. Please do not duplicate. 53


Appendix E Student / Teacher 54


Appendix F 55


Appendix G 56


57 Tables


Table 1 58


Table 2 Note: The bolded numbers reflect the responses completed by the general education teacher. Completed by the General Education Teacher 59


Table 3 Com p leted b y the Exce p tional Education Teacher 60


Table 4 61


Table 5 62

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Use of the Power Card Strategy as an intervention with an elementary school student with Asperger syndrome
h [electronic resource] :
increasing on-task behavior in the general education setting /
by Jane M. Devenport.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2004.
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ABSTRACT: It has been slightly more than a decade since Asperger syndrome was recognized as a distinct sub-category of autism disorder and was first given a diagnostic category in the DSM-IV. An abundance of suggestions, ideas, and recommendations for treatment have been offered, yet there is only a limited amount of research that empirically evaluates these interventions. This study explores an intervention, the Power Card Strategy (PCS), previously demonstrated to be effective with improving social behaviors with a young girl with autism, by employing the student's area of special interest. An advantage to this intervention is it is relatively easy to implement, requires minimal time, and the cost is virtually nil.This study used a reversal design to investigate the utility of the Power Card Strategy to increase on-task behavior during teacher-directed math instruction in a general education class. The results of this study suggest that the PCS was effective for increasing on-task behavior with this student. An upward trend was observed in the student's on-task behavior during the intervention condition. Upon return to the baseline condition, the student's on-task behavior stabilized at levels observed during intervention, suggesting that skills acquired during the intervention phase maintained.
Adviser: Osnes, Pamela.
use of special interests or obsessive preoccupation to increase acceptable behavior.
visually based strategies.
cognitive behaviorally based strategies.
mediated generalization.
rule governed behavior.
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t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
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