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Public Defense: Catherine Mary Gale

Catherine Mary Gale will defend her thesis: "Assessing Reinforcers for the Behaviour of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Long Term Outcome Following Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)" for the PhD in Behavior Analysis.

Trial Lecture

The trial lecture starts at 10:00.

Title: "Your child is doing this because of their autism": Discuss.

Public defense

The candidate will defend her thesis at 12:15.
We ask the audience to take their seats in good time before the public defense commences.

Ordinary opponents

Leader of the public defense

Head of Studies Ingunn Sandaker, Oslo Metropolitan University

Supervisors

Abstract

Research has shown Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI) is effective for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, little is known about long-term outcomes into adolescence for children who have received EIBI in their childhood. This is examined in a long-term outcome study assessing maintenance of gains made, after two years of EIBI, at an average age of 15 years.

Results showed the participants significantly increased their cognitive and adaptive standard scores during two years of EIBI, and that these gains were maintained at follow up, 10 years after the EIBI had ended. A significant reduction in autism symptoms between intake and follow-up was also seen. Furthermore, at follow-up none of the participants had received any additional psychiatric diagnoses, and none were taking any psychotropic medication. Results indicate that treatment gains achieved in EIBI are maintained into adolescence.

The principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) provide teaching methods for EIBI for children with ASD. A core principle of ABA, reinforcement, is examined through two studies. One investigating the effects of enthusiastic and non-enthusiastic praise for the behaviour of children with ASD and typically developing (TD) children, the other examining the effects of non-social and social stimuli for the behaviour of children with ASD and TD children. It is shown that, for the behaviour of children with ASD, enthusiastic praise may be more reinforcing than non-enthusiastic praise and thus have important clinical implications.  

For the TD children, one tone of voice was not more reinforcing than the other. Higher IQ in children with ASD was associated with higher responding to non-enthusiastic praise in their native language. Results from the study examining effects of non-social and social stimuli, showed that non-social reinforcers were more powerful than social reinforcers for the behaviour of the children with ASD. In contrast, the TD children did not show an overall preference for either the social or non-social images. Furthermore, results showed for the children with ASD, the non-social stimuli maintained reinforcement valence in the absence of the social stimuli. These findings replicate and extend previous research and may have an important role to play in understanding ASD.