Teaching perspective-taking skills to children with autism spectrum disorders

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Walters, Kerri L.
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Perspective-taking is the ability to see the world from another person’s viewpoint and is often measured using “false belief” (FB) tasks. Although most typically developing children pass FB tasks between 4 and 5 years of age, approximately 80% of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) do not. Failure on FB tasks remains a persistent deficit among individuals with ASDs. However, relatively little evidence is available on teaching perspective-taking to children with ASDs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether teaching perspective-taking skill components would produce generalization to untrained task materials and to three perspective-taking tasks with children with autism. Perspective-taking was broken down into 6 behavioural components and each component was taught in a multiple-baseline design within each child. Procedures in the training program included prompt-fading, positive reinforcement, error correction, multiple exemplar training, forward chaining, and narrative response training. Participants consisted of 4 children with a diagnosis of an ASD. The results showed that the training program produced generalization to variations of the training materials for 14 of the 17 components. Generalization to the three perspective-taking tasks, however, was modest. This study contributes to the body of behavioural research on teaching perspective-taking skills to children with ASDs, and provides procedures for teaching component skills of perspective-taking.
teaching, perspective-taking, false, belief, autism