Publications by authors named "Ty W Vernon"

9 Publications

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Social Interaction Skill Intervention for Autistic Adults with Intellectual Disability and Limited Language: A Pilot of the SKILL Program.

J Autism Dev Disord 2020 Aug 18. Epub 2020 Aug 18.

Koegel Autism Center, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA.

There is a dearth of research that focuses on social intervention efforts for adults on the autism spectrum with intellectual disability and limited conversational language. Using a multiple baseline experimental design, this pilot investigation of the Socialization Knowledge for Individuals with Limited Language (SKILL) program evaluated a novel peer-facilitated group program specifically designed to target social interaction skills for this population. Findings from five pilot participants yielded evidence of social improvements across specific verbal skills (on-topic conversational contributions and responses) and nonverbal behaviors (eye-contact, active listening), as evidenced by coded social conversation probes and parent-report measures. These findings demonstrate the promise of a socialization intervention for a population that has historically been neglected in the social intervention research literature.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04659-1DOI Listing
August 2020

The Use of Eye Tracking as a Biomarker of Treatment Outcome in a Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial for Young Children with Autism.

Autism Res 2019 05 20;12(5):779-793. Epub 2019 Mar 20.

Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California.

There is a pressing need for objective, quantifiable outcome measures in intervention trials for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current study investigated the use of eye tracking as a biomarker of treatment response in the context of a pilot randomized clinical trial of treatment for young children with ASD. Participants included 28 children with ASD, aged 18-48 months, who were randomized to one of two conditions: Pivotal Response Intervention for Social Motivation (PRISM) or community treatment as usual (TAU). Eye-tracking and behavioral assessment of developmental functioning were administered at Time 1 (prior to randomization) and at Time 2 (after 6 months of intervention). Two well-established eye-tracking paradigms were used to measure social attention: social preference and face scanning. As a context for understanding relationships between social attention and developmental ability, we first examined how scanning patterns at Time 1 were associated with concurrent developmental functioning and compared to those of 23 age-matched typically developing (TD) children. Changes in scanning patterns from Time 1 to Time 2 were then compared between PRISM and TAU groups and associated with behavioral change over time. Results showed that the social preference paradigm differentiated children with ASD from TD children. In addition, attention during face scanning was associated with language and adaptive communication skills at Time 1 and change in language skills from Time 1 to Time 2. These findings highlight the importance of examining targeted biomarkers that measure unique aspects of child functioning and that are well-matched to proposed mechanisms of change. Autism Research 2019, 12: 779-793. © 2019 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: Biomarkers have the potential to provide important information about how and why early interventions effect positive change for young children with ASD. The current study suggests that eye-tracking measures of social attention can be used to track change in specific areas of development, such as language, and points to the need for targeted eye-tracking paradigms designed to measure specific behavioral changes. Such biomarkers could inform the development of optimal, individualized, and adaptive interventions for young children with ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aur.2093DOI Listing
May 2019

A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial of an Enhanced Pivotal Response Treatment Approach for Young Children with Autism: The PRISM Model.

J Autism Dev Disord 2019 Jun;49(6):2358-2373

University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA.

The symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are conceptualized to alter the quality of parent-children interactions, exposure to social learning exchanges, and ultimately the course of child development. There is evidence that modifying the procedures of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) to explicitly target social motivation enhances child engagement and parent-child synchrony in moment-by-moment exchanges. However, it is unclear if these within session improvements ultimately yield favorable developmental outcomes over time. The current investigation presents feasibility, utility, and preliminary efficacy data of a pilot randomized clinical trial (RCT) of a Pivotal Response Intervention for Social Motivation (PRISM) model. Data on participant factors, treatment protocol acceptability, and outcome variance and effect size are highly favorable and support the pursuit of a future, large scale RCT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-03909-1DOI Listing
June 2019

Social conversation skill improvements associated with the Social Tools And Rules for Teens program for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: Results of a randomized controlled trial.

Autism 2019 07 31;23(5):1224-1235. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.

There has been a significant increase in the development of interventions to improve the social competence and success of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. The current investigation used direct observation and coding of social conversations as a rigorous method to further assess the efficacy of the Social Tools And Rules for Teens socialization intervention for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder in the context of a randomized controlled trial. A total of 35 adolescents with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder were randomized to either a treatment or waitlist control group. The 20-week group intervention took place once a week for 90 min per session. Brief video-recorded conversations between participants and unfamiliar, untrained peers were recorded at pre- and post-time points and coded for selected social behaviors (i.e. questions asked, positive facial expressions, and mutual engagement). Results revealed a significant Group × Time treatment effect for both questions asked and positive facial expressions. The findings support that the Social Tools And Rules for Teens intervention can positively impact specific, observable social behaviors through systematic coding of live social conversations within the context of a randomized controlled trial. This investigation is one of the first randomized controlled trials of a group socialization intervention to use systematic coding of live social conversations to assess social competence improvements.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361318808781DOI Listing
July 2019

A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Social Tools And Rules for Teens (START) Program: An Immersive Socialization Intervention for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

J Autism Dev Disord 2018 03;48(3):892-904

Koegel Autism Center, Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-9490, USA.

Adolescents with ASD face numerous personal and contextual barriers that impede the development of social motivation and core competencies, warranting the need for targeted intervention. A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 40 adolescents to evaluate the merits of a multi-component socialization intervention that places emphasis on experiential learning. This investigation evaluated the impact of the 20-week START program on the social functioning of adolescents with ASD. Significant Group × Time differences between START and waitlist control groups were found across multiple measures. Secondary analyses of the entire program cohort also yielded significant improvement trends across all measures. These findings may be an important step in identifying optimal strategies to target the complex factors limiting optimal social development in ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3380-1DOI Listing
March 2018

Social Tools And Rules for Teens (The START Program): Program Description and Preliminary Outcomes of an Experiential Socialization Intervention for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

J Autism Dev Disord 2016 May;46(5):1806-23

Department of Counseling, Clinical & School Psychology, Koegel Autism Center, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-9490, USA.

Experiential learning is an essential process in the development of core social competencies. Unfortunately, adolescents with autism spectrum disorders often do not possess the prerequisite skillset and motivation to sustain the level of social immersion needed to benefit from this learning process. These persisting social vulnerabilities can limit their long-term relational success and associated quality of life, creating a need for comprehensive social programming. This paper describes a multi-component socialization intervention that simultaneously targets motivational, conceptual, and skill deficits using a hybrid experiential/didactic treatment approach. Evidence of social competence improvements was noted in survey and live conversational measures, indicating that the START program may hold promise as a method for improving the social success of participating adolescents with ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2715-7DOI Listing
May 2016

Fostering a social child with autism: a moment-by-moment sequential analysis of an early social engagement intervention.

Authors:
Ty W Vernon

J Autism Dev Disord 2014 Dec;44(12):3072-82

Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, Koegel Autism Center, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-9490, USA,

Young children with autism often experience limited social motivation and responsiveness that restricts establishment of crucial social momentum. These characteristics can lead to decreased opportunities for parental engagement and the social learning associated with these moments. Early social interventions that capitalize on pre-existing interests may be able to re-establish this developmentally critical feedback loop, in which both child and parent social behaviors simultaneously increase and influence one another. This investigation examined the moment-by-moment, micro-transactional relationship between parent and child social behavior gains observed in an early intervention study. Time-window sequential analyses revealed the presence of clinically and statistically significant sequential associations between parent and child social behaviors during an embedded social interaction intervention, but not in a comparable motivational intervention that utilized highly preferred toys and objects. Specifically, the onset of parent eye contact, directed positive affect, or offer of a reinforcing incentive predicted the immediate occurrence of child eye contact and positive affect in the experimental social intervention condition. Additionally, child verbal initiations, positive affect, and eye contact immediately predicted the onset of parent positive affect during this social intervention paradigm. Theoretical implications for the social developmental trajectory of autism are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2173-zDOI Listing
December 2014

An early social engagement intervention for young children with autism and their parents.

J Autism Dev Disord 2012 Dec;42(12):2702-17

Koegel Autism Center, Gervitz Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9490, USA.

The social vulnerabilities associated with young children with autism are recognized as important intervention targets due to their influence on subsequent development. Current research suggests that interventions that combine motivational and social components can create meaningful changes in social functioning. Simultaneously, it is hypothesized that parent delivery of such strategies can invoke increases in these core social behaviors and parent engagement. This study examined the effects of teaching parents to implement a social engagement intervention with their children. The results indicated that the use of this parent-delivered social intervention led to (a) increases in their children's use of eye contact, directed positive affect, and verbal initiations, (b) increases in parent positive affect and synchronous engagement, and (c) generalized increases in parent and child behaviors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-012-1535-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3791600PMC
December 2012

Improving social initiations in young children with autism using reinforcers with embedded social interactions.

J Autism Dev Disord 2009 Sep 9;39(9):1240-51. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

Department of Counseling, Clinical, School Psychology, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, Koegel Autism Center, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9490, USA.

Children with autism often exhibit low levels of social engagement, decreased levels of eye contact, and low social affect. However, both the literature and our direct clinical observations suggest that some components of intervention procedures may result in improvement in child-initiated social areas. Using an ABAB research design with three children with autism, this study systematically assessed whether embedding social interactions into reinforcers, delivered during language intervention, would lead to increased levels of child-initiated social behaviors. We compared this condition with a language intervention condition that did not embed social interactions into the reinforcers. Results indicated that embedding social interactions into the reinforcers resulted in increases in child-initiated social engagement during communication, improved nonverbal dyadic orienting, and improvements in general child affect. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-009-0732-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2727363PMC
September 2009