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Sharing is an important social behaviour for promoting reciprocal interaction and interactive play among peers, but previous studies have only trained giving and accepting behaviours. We trained appropriate asking in addition to giving, and tested for functional independence. Three socially isolated children were first trained either to ask appropriately for their turn with a toy, or else to offer the toy to a confederate child, and this was reversed after stability. There was an immediate increase in whichever behaviour was trained, but the other behaviour showed no increase until it was directly trained. This was replicated with two nondisabled children. Follow-up assessments on all five children showed some maintenance up to a month after training. These studies demonstrate that appropriate giving and asking are functionally independent, at least in this experimental setting; that this is not restricted to socially isolated children; and that asking does not emerge from training giving alone. It was argued that, while these results could be due to instructional control rather than the more natural consequences of sharing, such social rules or norms are typically taught as instructions from teachers and parents.
We discuss two common ways that assessment tests or probes have been given in relation to training during applied behavioural interventions when continuous assessment is not possible. With pre-session assessment, target behaviours are tested immediately before training sessions; with post-session assessment, target behaviours are tested immediately after training sessions. Although they are not optimal methods for testing performance, such assessments are not rare, and archival data on the incidence of these two methods for JABA publications in the period 1993 to 1996 show that about 25% of research articles use one or both of these methods. The distinction between pre- and post-session assessment is important because the two methods influence the interpretation of data, and the decision to move to the next phase of an intervention. This influence is illustrated with a comparison between two studies of correspondence training. We then discuss the different positive and negative aspects of each assessment type, and two new methodologies are developed that retain the positive aspects of each assessment type. The final recommendation when such designs are necessary is a new method in which a criterion of three correct post-session assessments is reached first, followed by three correct pre-session assessments, before moving into the next phase of intervention.
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