Exploring the Effects of a Social Communication Intervention On the Interactive Play of Young At-Risk Children

Denning, Christopher B., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Tina, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Snell, Martha, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
John, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Peugh, James

The purpose of this study was to provide a retrospective analysis of data collected during a series of single subject design studies of a social communication intervention targeting skills such as initiations, responses, turn-takes, and name use (StantonChapman, Denning, & Jamison, 2008; Stanton-Chapman, Denning, & Jamison, in review; Stanton-Chapman, Jamison, & Denning, 2008). The present study investigated the children‟s interactive play exhibited throughout a 10-minute period of free-play during a social communication intervention that consisted of five baseline and fifteen intervention sessions. Additionally, the play behaviors of the children were examined using percent non-overlapping data (PND) and multilevel modeling (MLM). To achieve these purposes the following research questions were addressed: (a) whether solitary play (e.g., solitary, onlooker, parallel) and interactive play differed across measurement occasions (e.g., baseline, intervention)? And whether children differed in their response to the intervention based upon presence of an identified disability? The children in the study were preschool students (n = 34) enrolled in Head Start and collaborative classrooms and kindergarten students. Their ages ranged from 44 months to 70 months. Participants had poor language skills, poor social skills, problem behavior, or all of the above. The results indicated that children‟s parallel play decreased and their interactive play increased as a result of the intervention based upon PND values and MLM analysis. In addition, children with SLI had better outcomes than other children in the study, and children with DD had poorer outcomes than other children in the study. Males and all male dyads appeared to outperform females and all female dyads, and mixed dyads appeared to have the poorest results based upon PND and visual analysis. Implications from the present study include the following. When planning centers in preschool classrooms teachers may need to consider the purpose of the center and how children respond to different themes. Second, the present study highlighted that teachers should attend to the gender pairings of children during a social skill intervention. Future research needs to examine whether the effects of treatment diminish over time. Lastly, additional research is needed to understand how different groups respond to social communication interventions.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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