Current Areas of Investigation
Increasing student independence is a main focus at NECC; however, learning involves a number of variables. Though numerous effective skills acquisition techniques have been identified, behavior analysis is still in its relative infancy with respect to identifying best practices across the wide range of responses for which such procedures have proven effective. A number of ongoing projects at NECC focus, in particular, at looking at ways to increase and generalize social and play skills using video modeling, matrix training, and task analysis.
Social and Play Skills
Although video modeling is an effective and efficient instructional technique for teaching social and play skills to many individuals with autism, there are some who do not learn using video modeling. Thus, one line of research at NECC has investigated the assessment of potential prerequisites, and training those prerequisites found to be lacking, to increase the utility of video modeling techniques.
Assessment of Problem Behavior
A critical component to the development of effective behavior reduction procedures is conducting a functional analysis to identify the variable(s) maintaining problem behavior. One focus of research at NECC is on evaluating various refinements in functional analysis methodology, particularly when unclear outcomes are obtained (undifferentiated or low levels across conditions). In addition, we are evaluating a number of practical enhancements for conducting functional analyses in a school setting.
Treatment of Problem Behavior
Once a clear function has been determined, there are a number of different intervention procedures available. Research at NECC has focused not only on comparing the effectiveness and efficiency of such procedures, including response interruption for behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement and differential reinforcement of alternative behavior or noncontingent reinforcement for behavior maintained by social reinforcement, but also at methods for quickly assessing treatment effects.
Characteristics of Autism
Joint attention, defined as the coordination of attention between interactive social partners in order to share an awareness of objects or events, is one of the earliest noted deficits among children with autism. As a result, research at NECC has examined assessing joint attention as well as methods to teach joint attention skills.
For more information on any of these projects, please feel free to contact us via e-mail.