Teaching a child with autism to request help only when needed

Mo Chen, Shelley Kreibich, Jolene Hyppa-Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or other developmental disabilities are often reported to have challenges in well generalizing the newly learned communicative skills such as requesting help. Not requesting help when it is needed can hinder engagement and learning, whereas requesting help could also be socially inappropriate. This paper aims to offer a demonstration of applying general case instruction to teach a young child diagnosed with ASD to request help only when needed while concurrently increasing the child’s independence in task completion. Design/methodology/approach: The demonstration adopted within-participant AB designs for one 5-year-old boy with ASD, with data collected across three tasks targeted for intervention and the other three tasks targeted for generalization probes throughout both the baseline and intervention phases. Dependent measures consisted of independent help request and independent task completion. Visual analysis was used to describe the results. Findings: Results showed that the child with ASD learned to ask for help on difficult educational activities, while concurrently increasing his independence on these tasks; generalized the skill of requesting help by asking for help when he encountered other challenging novel tasks; and independently completed easy educational activities without requesting help. Originality/value: The findings from this study may add to the limited literature that explored the generalization performance across tasks/activities in young learners with ASD, while demonstrating the feasibility of designing and applying general case instruction framework to enhance generalization performance for one individual learner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Autism
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Autism
  • General case instruction
  • Generalization
  • Independence
  • Request help


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