No AccessSIG 1 Language Learning and EducationArticle1 Jan 2018

“I Think He Wants You to Play the Guitar:” Use of Behavioral Interpretation as a Strategy for Facilitating Peer Interaction Across Autistic and Nonautistic Peers


    The study examined the nature and potential impact of a relatively novel clinician strategy, behavioral interpretation, on peer interactions involving an autistic child.


    This extended qualitative analysis reviewed 49 instances of a clinician using behavioral interpretation as part of a music education program. The program was designed to facilitate peer interaction across a 7-year-old autistic child. Aaron, and 4 of his nonautistic peers from the same classroom. After reviewing the 21 video-recorded sessions, the research team selected the most salient examples of behavioral interpretation for microanalyses.


    By focusing on a detailed review of the 6 most clear, concise, and compelling examples, we found that behavioral interpretation took 2 forms aimed at helping explain an unclear behavior: narrating (e.g., “I see you looking at strings”) and offering possible meanings (e.g., “I think he wants you to play guitar”). After limited exposure to behavioral interpretation, peers began displaying similar patterns of interaction that drew attention and speculation regarding Aaron's nonverbal forms of communication.


    Behavioral interpretation, a relatively undocumented strategy in the autism literature, appeared as a feasible and promising strategy for shaping egalitarian peer interaction. Important nuances regarding the implementation and limitations of this strategy are also discussed.


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