Developing an Associative Learning Model for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder through Role Playing


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) require specialized learning methodologies and design to aid in language reading and learning process. One model is the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The application of interventions to the behavior process modeling, based on the principles of learning theory, thus proving that the responses are responsible for the development of the learnable outcomes desired. The use of ABA model is excellent and can be used in many cases, but not in areas where the student behavior models form part of the academic research work. The students’ ability to modify behavior when adult individuals participate in the learning process gives the significant shortfall of the ABA model. This calls for a researcher’s on the participatory model that can help students with ASD learn alongside other students in a role taking in an associative learning model.

The Choice for the Research Sample Participants

The students to participate in the research will be diagnosed with autism from the hospital. However, other students will typically be learning in school.  All the student ill have to be between three and five years to create a sense of peer learning environment. The parents and the teacher to students, both diagnosed with autism condition and the normal students will be informed about the need to have the test carried out by the students in an ethical way. However, the student will not be informed about the possible behavior observation to avoid cases of modified behavior. The students will be allowed to freely interact for one week before the commencement of the learning observations to create rapport between those with autism and the normal students if they have not been learning together before (Chiapella, 2016).



The Design of the Learning Therapy

ASD learners can also use the Associative Learning Model with group role play to help in creating a moiré reliable research. In this case, the students of 3-5 years who have received behavior analytic services and confirmed to have autism can be allowed to learn generally in a conducive learning environment with other students without the secluded learning. The essence is that the students diagnosed with ASD condition can have the opportunity to learn from the peers who are normal, thus developing a mutual behavioral learning environment. In the classroom environment, the students are paired, with the teachers and the researchers making sure that every student diagnosed with ASD condition is paired with a normal student. The students are thus given roles to play, with each having a unique role that contributes to the successful completion of the group tasks.

The students are also given learning realia. These are models that can be used to reinforce learning including the use of pictures, toys and other objects that can help the students associate the learnable contents with the required outcome (Maharani, 2012 p. 26). This helps the students who have no ability to associate learning models even if they have the verbal impairment. They can easily associate the realia with the words that match the realia like pictures and toys to the meanings written down on paper. Though the realia may be given to all the groups in the classroom setup, the instructions given to all the groups remain the same, and the realia used must also be similar.

The students are then allowed to discuss and participate on how they want the activities to be carried out. The teachers and the researchers thus give them roles to conduct within a limited time for the weighted average. This helps the students to make out the solutions faster thus applying the successful constructive solutions. In each group, the two students will then participate in the activity that will be provided for thirty minutes, three times a week for four weeks.

All the roles must be carried out twice, with the students’ changing their roles in the second phase of the activity completion. This ensures that the students with ASD can learn from their fellows who may not intimidate them.  The learning model will, therefore, involve the students learning from one another in a learning model.

Precautions That the Teachers Must Take In Model

According to Dufour and Dufour research of 2010, the roles must be easy to accomplish and still meet the objectives of the learning needs (p. 81). The roles must be designed to allow equal and full participation of the both the group embers, without the normal student overshadowing the ASD diagnosis student in the learning process. A discussion before the completion of the activity helps the students to chart out the solution, and the student with the ASD condition will equally be part of the solution.

The behavioral must be repeated for the full cycle learning where both students are given a chance to play all the activities and the roles. The students are first given the instructions on what to carry out, then allowed to carry them out through imitation the teacher, and later imitating themselves. The teachers thus read out the name of the realia, then show the students the realia. Then the students are allowed to say to one another the realia as the teacher said them out. When the students can correctly say the name of the realia as the teacher said to one another, they are rewarded for the correct answers verbally. Prizes are given for every correct imitation. Negative reinforcement is given to every wrong response (Dufour & Dufour, 2010, p. 84-6).



Precautions in the Research Design

The Students subjected to ABA model can modify their behavior even if they have ASD condition to reflect the conditions of the learning the environment.  If the researcher is a stranger who applies the interventions, then the students may not behave normally as they are used to, thus defeating the purpose of the research. Research on people behavior should be carried out through the direct observation, without informing the learners so that they cannot modify their behaviors for a biased outcome.

The use of peer-level learning helps the students with ASD condition to feel equal in the learning process. This is useful in striving to excel when they are not dominated, unlike when they get assistive learning from the adult researcher. The inclusive learning environment where the students with ASD get the opportunity to learn alongside the typical students gives an enriched learning environment to learn.

The Role of the Researcher in Data Collection

The researcher records every activity that the students participate. The researcher records the progress of the students in a tabular form. The data is then analyzed for both the students in every group. The teachers and the parents are given the chance to fill in a survey about the students before the learning process. The teachers and the parents are also given the survey to complete questionnaires about the children’s improvement after the application of the learning therapy. The analysis will thus involve comparison of the learning abilities before and after the learning therapy for the children with autism and other normal children.




Chiapella, K.M., 2016. Critical Literacy: An Innovative Approach to Learning among Students with Reading Disabilities.

DuFour, R. and DuFour, R., 2010. The role of professional learning communities in advancing 21st century skills. 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn, pp. 77-95.

Maharani, S., 2012. Improving Students’ Vocabulary Mastery Through the Use of Wall Charts (Doctoral dissertation, Sebelas Maret University).


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