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Last modified: Thursday, January 24, 2008

Indiana Resource Center for Autism awarded grant for social-skills improvement research

Jan. 24, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A grant awarded to the Indiana Resource Center for Autism will fund research to develop methods for helping improve the social skills of children with autism spectrum disorders.

The $26,848 grant comes from the Organization for Autism Research in Arlington, Va. It will support a research project titled "Increasing Social Engagement in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Using Video Self-Modeling and Peer Training." The project will be implemented in a preschool setting within the state of Indiana.

The Indiana Resource Center for Autism is part of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, a research, education and service center affiliated with Indiana University Bloomington. The principal investigator for the project is Scott Bellini, assistant director of the center and assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology in the IU School of Education.

The project will focus on addressing social skill deficits of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) through procedures called video self-modeling and peer-mediated intervention. Impairments in social-emotional functioning are a central feature of ASD. Social skill deficits increase the likelihood of social failure, peer rejection and isolation and leave an individual with ASD vulnerable to developing anxiety, depression and other psychological difficulties.

Video self-modeling integrates visually cued instruction, a powerful learning medium for children with ASD, with behavioral intervention through modeling, coaching and social problem-solving.

Results from the project will be a first step toward developing a treatment protocol that parents and professionals can use to design data-driven intervention procedures for improving social skills of children with ASD.

The Organization for Autism Research was established in 2001 by parents and grandparents of children and adults on the autism spectrum. It funds pilot studies and targeted research on topics of importance to the autism community. Its focus is on studies that promise new insights into behavioral and social development with an emphasis on communications, education and vocational challenges.