In the present paper we discuss early markers of infants and children at risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disorders, and review studies that use operant contingencies to shape critical social skills in both typically and atypically developing infants. We emphasize the use of operant learning models to facilitate the early acquisition of infant social skills including eye contact, joint attention, vocal responding, and social referencing. We discuss research that has shown how specific contingencies of reinforcement can be implemented by caregivers to promote the development of their infants’ social behaviors. The assumption is that by strengthening these early social repertoires, the severity of subsequent developmental problems can be lessened or mitigated in those infants who are identified as at risk. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Share This