Direct assessment of preferences for social interactions in children with autism


  • We thank Sheena Coffman and Jennifer Hodnett for their assistance in data collection.


Qualitative and quantitative differences in social interactions are core symptoms of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnostic criteria, although there is heterogeneity among individuals with ASDs. This study used a concurrent operants arrangement to evaluate whether social interactions functioned as positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, or as neutral stimuli for 6 individuals with autism. Data suggest that clinicians who work with individuals with ASD should ascertain the functional properties of social interactions prior to using them as a consequence in interventions.