Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis InternationalĀ® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #469
CE Offered: BACB
Efficacy of Visually- and Technology-Based Communication Interventions
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
12:00 PM–1:20 PM
LL02 (TCC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer Ganz (Texas A&M University)
Discussant: Margaret M. Flores (Auburn University)
CE Instructor: Jennifer Ganz, Ph.D.

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have core deficits in social communication skills. These deficits impact their functioning in all contexts, including school, home, community, and employment settings. It is imperative that these skills are remediated or supports are provided to fulfill these individuals' needs to communicate effectively. This symposium includes three papers reporting the efficacy of visually- and technology-based communication interventions implemented with individuals with ASD across the lifespan. The first paper reports the results of a recent meta-analysis involving an aided augmentative and alternative communication system. The second paper reports the results of a single-case study involving the implementation of an iPad-based visual support with three children with autism. The third paper reports the results of a single-case study involving the implementation of scripts with preschoolers with autism and their peers. As a whole, these papers provide an overview of several evidence-based practices that may be implemented by teachers, therapists, and parents of individuals with ASD.

Keyword(s): AAC, communication interventions, technology, visually-based interventions

Meta-Analytic Investigation of the Impact of PECS on Targeted and Nontargeted Behaviors

EMILY M. LUND (Texas A&M University), Jennifer Ganz (Texas A&M University), John Davis (Texas A&M University), Fara D. Goodwyn (Texas A&M University), Richard L. Simpson (University of Kansas)

Knowing the impact of learner and intervention characteristics on the effects of augmentative and alternative communication systems, such as the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), can help guide intervention decisions, maximizing efficient use of time and resources. This meta-analysis examined the effects of learner age, the presence of co-occurring intellectual or sensory disabilities in addition to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and phases of PECS completed on target (i.e., functional communication) and nontarget (e.g., challenging behavior, speech) behaviors. Unlike other recent PECS meta-analyses, this meta-analysis used improvement rate difference (IRD) as opposed to percent non-overlapping data (PND); IRD may better detect subtle intervention effects. Effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals were computed for by category for 104 IRD values from 13 peer-reviewed journal articles. Results suggest that PECS is more effective with preschool age learners than older learners and for students with no or fewer co-occurring disabilities and those who completed a greater number of PECS phases. Target outcomes tend to have larger effect sizes than nontarget outcomes. Although limited by the small amount of data in some categories, these results contribute to our understanding of the potential benefits of PECS and can help guide appropriate intervention selection and implementation.


Efficacy of Electronic Visual Supports to Enhance Vocabulary in Children With ASD

Fara D. Goodwyn (Texas A&M University), Jennifer Ganz (Texas A&M University), Margot Boles (Texas A&M University), EE REA HONG (Texas A&M University)

Although electronic tools such as handheld computers have become increasingly common throughout society, implementation of such tools to improve skills in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities has lagged in the professional literature. However, the use of visual supports for individuals with disabilities, particularly those with autism spectrum disorders, has been demonstrated to be effective, though frequently in static formats. Thus, this study investigated the use of iPads with three children with autism. An alternating-treatment design rotated between treatment and nontreatment conditions. In the treatment condition, children were asked a question immediately following a brief activity or video segment. Visual supports, via iPadï with a least-to-most prompting intervention were provided to compare vocabulary usage (i.e., nouns or verbs, target vocabulary varied by child) with and without iPad-based visual supports. Results indicate that treatment led to an increase in vocabulary use for the treatment targets for all children. By the end of intervention, all3 children required few to no prompts. Additionally, vocabulary usage during generalization probes with nontreatment materials and spontaneous speech with nontreatment and treatment materials increased for one of the3 children.


Impact of a Peer-Modeling Intervention on Interactions Between Preschoolers With Autism and Typically-Developing Peers

MEREDITH JONES (Texas A&M University), Jennifer Ganz (Texas A&M University), Margot Boles (Texas A&M University), Leslie Neely (Texas A&M University)

Research has demonstrated that typically-developing peers can provide support in promoting social interaction behaviors among children with autism. This is critically important, as children with autism who are less engaged with peers have less positive outcomes than those who have greater interest in social interaction. This study examined the utility of a peer-mediated intervention to enhance social interactions among preschool children with autism. In preschool classroom, typically-developing peers (n = 4) were trained to engage their peers with autism (n = 4). During training and intervention, a visual script was used as a prompt for the peers to gain the attention of the children with autism, by saying, "Watch me." Data were collected3 times per week during unstructured play sessions using a frequency count of social interaction behaviors that occurred during 3-minute intervals. The primary target behavior was seeking the attention of peers, and collateral effects included offering a toy and giving instructions. The results showed that the intervention significantly increased peer attention-seeking behavior with variable gains in the other behaviors. The presentation will provide an overview of the study and discuss the implications of peer-mediated interventions for enhancing the social interaction skills of children with autism.




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