Use of Two-Trainer Interactive Modeling as a Potential Means to Engender Social Behavior in Children with Various Disabilities
Many behavior modification and intervention programs for children are based on procedures developed in operant laboratories using animal subjects, but few use modeling procedures in which one student observes interactions of two proficient trainers. We show how such procedures, which were successfully used to train Grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) to produce and comprehend elements of human language, can be adapted for use with children with autistic spectrum disorders and other disabilities to engender social skills and, in particular, empathetic interactions. Children were evaluated before entering the program and outcomes were recorded to determine improvement levels. No child reached totally normative (physical-age appropriate) levels, but all significantly improved their empathic social communication skills and use of contextually appropriate behavior. We conclude that a two-trainer modeling system can be a valuable intervention tool for children whose disabilities involve social and communicative skills.