Categorization in Children with Autism
Developing methods to teach functional language and more fluent speech in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a growing area of research. There are some findings that suggest that the ability to categorize may be an important part in this. Typically developing children begin to form categories in their first year of life, but for children with ASD, the skills are seen much later, if at all. Additionally, categorization skills in this population are usually very restricted and difficult to teach. The purpose of Article 1 is give an overview of how categorization has been conceptualized within behavior analysis, and how that knowledge has been used to develop teaching strategies and some suggestions for future research. Article 2 describes a study were three children with ASD were taught to categorize using a multiple exemplar training (MET) protocol. Two of the three children mastered new categories on first trial during the sessions and all showed maintenance of previously mastered categories over time. The results indicate that MET may be used to teach children with ASD to successfully categorize new, untaught categories on a first trial basis and to maintain the skill over time. Still, much has to be done in this area.
Rustebakke, Elisabeth Ulvestad