Although visually cued imitation training may increase peer imitation, the preexisting skills necessary for success should be identified1

Kathryn J. Saunders, Yusuke Hayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Design: The study used a multiple-baseline-across-participants design. Allocation: The participants were assigned to the tiers in the multiple-baseline design based on the order in which their baseline performance became stable. Blinding: Unblinded; the first author and research assistants collected data. The first author was not blind to the purpose of the study. It is unclear whether or not the research assistants were blind to it. Study duration: A total of between 29 and 57 sessions were conducted, with approximately 6 sessions per week. Setting: This study was conducted in a private school for children with autism spectrum disorders and cognitive impairment. Participants: Four boys (ages 8-13) who met the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criterion for Autistic Disorder or Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) participated in this study. They were chosen because they failed to imitate peers during classroom activities (Nico, Henry, Santo, Aidan). Intervention:The intervention involved presenting a visual cue to imitate and providing multiple levels of prompts. The children engaged in one of the three activities (playing with modeling dough, drawing on a mag-netic drawing board, and crafting with paper and other craft supplies) that rotated across sessions. A child was assigned to be a leader (model), and a necklace stating "Do the same as the leader" was put around the child's neck. The trainer presented the materi-als for the activity chosen and demon-strated two ways in which the materials could be used. If necessary, a trainer prompted the leader verbally and physically to engage in the activity. If a target child (imitator) did not imitate within 5s after the leader began an action, the trainer prompted the target child to imitate the leader, following this sequence: First, the trainer told the child, "Look at what the leader is doing," and physically guided the child's hand to point to the necklace, stating, "Do the same as the leader" (Level 2; note that the article designated Level 1 as no prompt). Second, the trainer briefly described what the leader was doing and told the target child to do the same (Level 3). Third, the trainer physically guided the target child's hands onto the materials with which the leader was working (Level 4). Finally, the trainer physically guided the target child to do what the leader was doing (Level 5). The trainer stopped the prompting sequence if the target child began engaging in the same activity as the leader. Participants took turns being the leader. A session lasted for 4min, with data collected on each of 2 target children for half of the session. Following the session, the trainer delivered verbal praise to the target child for imitating the leader, regardless of the level of prompt that had been required. Interobserver agreement (IOA) was assessed for an average of 60.8% (SD =28.9) and 43.3% (SD =20.1) of sessions across participants during baseline and intervention phases, respectively. Mean IOA during base-line and intervention phases was 93.0% (SD=4.1) and 89.5% (SD =3.2), respectively. Treatment integrity was assessed for an average of 29.3% of sessions across participants (SD =4.5). The observer scored whether or not each step of the procedure was imple-mented correctly. The mean treatment integrity across participants was 98.5% (SD =1.1). IOA was not reported for treatment integrity. Outcomes: The number of 15-s inter-vals during which at least one imitation occurred served as the primary dependent measure. An instance of imitation was scored "if the participant clearly did the same activity as a peer" (p. 58). The number of intervals, out of a possible 8, during which at least one imitation occurred was compared between baseline and intervention phases as well as across the types of activity. The highest level of prompt delivered during a session was also measured. Attrition: One of the four originally enrolled participants was dropped from the study due to a lack of significant progress and difficulties with compliance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-82
Number of pages5
JournalEvidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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