Leveraging Stimulus Equivalence to Teach Piano to Children with Autism
Hussain, Krystin Katherine
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Music-based interventions have been shown to benefit individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by improving deficits such as social behaviors, communication, and vocalizations, as well as reducing behavioral excesses such as stereotypies (Hill, 2015). The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effects of equivalence-based instruction (EBI) on acquisition of piano skills, novel piano performance, and generalization and maintenance of taught and untaught piano skills among children with autism. Training consisted of auditory-visual musical stimuli in a matching-to-sample format. Training was conducted using simultaneous matching in a one-to-many arrangement (relations between one stimulus are trained to multiple others). Learners selected letters, music notation, and piano keys when given an auditory stimulus. Following training, post-tests were conducted to test the emergence of novel untrained relations and generalization. Maintenance probes were conducted at least one week following the final post-test. All participants demonstrated novel piano skills and scored high on maintenance probes. Results suggest the efficacy of EBI in teaching and maintaining piano skills.