Toward A Behavior of Reciprocity -- Morton Ann Gernsbacher (2006)


This is the article by Morton Gernsbacher that references that teaching nonautistic children social skills improves autistic children’s social skills better than teaching autistic children social skills.  And other very interesting stuff along those lines.  This is one of my favorite of her examples of how everything we think we know about autism is wrong.

The link to the article is a PDF file.  I’ll paste the abstract below:

Abstract: Toward a Behavior of Reciprocity

GERNSBACHER, M. A. (2006). Toward a behavior of reciprocity. Journal of Developmental Processes, 1, 139-152.

It is frequently believed that autism is characterized by a lack of social or emotional reciprocity. In this article, I question that assumption by demonstrating how many professionals—researchers and clinicians—and likewise many parents, have neglected the true meaning of reciprocity. Reciprocity is “a relation of mutual dependence or action or influence,” or “a mode of exchange in which transactions take place between individuals who are symmetrically placed.” Assumptions by clinicians and researchers suggest that they have forgotten that reciprocity needs to be mutual and symmetrical—that reciprocity
is a two-way street. Research is reviewed to illustrate that when professionals, peers, and parents are taught to act reciprocally, autistic children become more responsive. In one randomized clinical trial of “reciprocity training” to parents, their autistic children’s language developed rapidly and their social engagement increased markedly. Other demonstrations of how parents and professionals can increase their behavior of reciprocity are provided.