Using common interests to increase socialization between children with autism and their peers

Maithri Sivaraman, Tara A. Fahmie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The social deficits associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are considered important targets for intervention due to their influence on long-term outcomes. In the present study, we assessed whether identifying and incorporating common interests of children with ASD and their typically developing peers would result in increases in social engagement and initiations. Method: Three children diagnosed with ASD were paired with three typically developing peers for the study. A separate multiple stimulus without replacement (MSWO) preference assessment was conducted for the child with ASD and the peer during the treatment to match interests. Data were collected on social engagement and initiations. A concurrent multiple probe design across participants was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. Results: Results showed that the intervention produced rapid increases in social engagement and initiations for all participants, without any direct social skill training. These results were also maintained during the follow-up session. Two out of the three participants showed generalization of skills to the natural environment wherein common interests were not incorporated. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that environmental manipulations in the form of incorporating choices of stimuli can increase socialization and generalization of skills. The treatment was effective at increasing social engagement without any intensive prompting for the participants of the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Preference
  • Social engagement
  • Social initiations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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