Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (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 #144
Recent Research on Emergent Verbal Behavior in Children With Autism and Other Developmental Disorders
Sunday, May 27, 2012
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
101 (TCC)
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Tracy Tufenk (Southern Illinois University)
Discussant: Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)

Skinner's (1957) taxonomy of verbal behavior has increased in popularity as a curricular approach for children with autism in recent years (e.g., Sundberg, 2008). Although based on a strong conceptual framework, continued empirical support is necessary to verify the efficacy of programming based on this analysis (Carr & Firth, 2005). Specifically, studies are warranted that demonstrate the emergence of true verbal operants or verbal behavior that emerges from a history of derived relational responding as opposed to explicit instruction and reinforcement (Barnes-Holmes, Barnes-Holmes, & Cullinan, 2000). This symposium will present3 studies demonstrating effective teaching protocols that produced unreinforced verbal responses in young children with disabilities. Kobari-Wright, Miguel, Quah, and Lee investigated the effects of listener responding instruction on novel speaker behavior in4 children with autism. Grannan and Rehfeldt investigated the effects of multiple tact and match-to-sample instruction on emergent intraverbal categorization responses in2 children with autism. Choi and Greer studied the effects of match-to-sample instruction on emergent echoic, listener, and speaker responding in children with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Keyword(s): autism, emergent responses, verbal behavior
Emergent Intraverbal Responses via Tact and Match-to-Sample Instruction
LEIGH KAROLE GRANNAN (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Intraverbal categorization (e.g., listing “dog, cow, pig” when asked, “What are some animals?”) is a skill commonly targeted in intervention with young children with autism and language delays. Prior studies have demonstrated intraverbal categorization skills via transfer-of stimulus-control procedures. Multiple tact instruction, labeling stimuli and categories (e.g., “It’s a dog and an animal”), and listener instruction have both been investigated, but transfer-of-stimulus-control procedures were necessary with many of the participants to list members of categories intraverbally. The present investigation evaluated the effectiveness of multiple tact and match-to-sample instruction in facilitating the emergence of intraverbals in two children with autism via a multiple probe design. Participants were taught to tact 36 pictures according to 4 categories (e.g., “a nose is a body part”, “a car takes you places”) and then sort the cards according to category. Results demonstrated the emergence of untaught intraverbal responses according to different categories (e.g., “What are four body parts”, “What are four things that take you places”), suggesting an effective instructional protocol for establishing untaught verbal operants in the absence of direct instruction.

The Effects of Listener Training on Naming and Categorization by Children With Autism

VISSY V. KOBARI-WRIGHT (California State University, Sacramento), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento), Kelly Quah (California State University, Sacramento), Greg Lee (California State University, Sacramento)

Recent studies have demonstrated that the skill of sorting objects by category develops with no direct training when objects occasion the same speaker and listener behavior (naming). The purpose of the current study was to examine the role of listener training in the emergence of speaker behavior and novel categorization. Participants included four children diagnosed with autism (ranging from 4–5 years of age). The effects of listener training were evaluated using a nonconcurrent multiple-baseline design across participants. Three children, who failed to categorize or emit the speaker behavior correctly during pretraining were able to do so during the posttraining probes. After acquiring the listener behavior, the fourth participant required the direct training of the speaker behavior in order to categorize the stimuli. These results suggest that listener training alone may be an efficient way to produce novel categorization in children diagnosed with autism, as long as full naming is developed.


Effects of Auditory Word Match to Sample on Intercept of Speaker and Listener Repertoires

JINHYEOK CHOI (Teachers College, Columbia Universty), R. Douglas Greer (Teachers College, Columbia University)

In 2 experiments with 7- and 8-year-old children with autism or ADHD (4 children in Experiment 1 and 3 in Experiment 2), we tested the effects of an auditory match-to-sample (MTS) protocol on (a) complex echoics, (b) listener literacy, (c) emergence of speaker-as-own-listener cusps, and additionally in Experiment 2, and(d) preferences for listening to voices. An auditory MTS Flash instructional program displayed on a computer screen1 button at the top center of the screen (touching resulted in sample word[s] heard) and2 buttons below it in the bottom corners of the screen (sample/incorrect heard). In the intervention, participants mastered MTS for words or phrases in progressively more complex stages. Experiment1 used a delayed multiple probe, and Experiment2 a nonconcurrent multiple-probe, across participants design. Mastery of the MTS protocol resulted in significant improvements in complexity of echoic responses, listener literacy, and some speaker-as-own-listener developmental cusps. In Experiment 2, mastery of the auditory MTS protocol also increased preference for listening to voices. We discuss the relation of auditory matching as the intercept of speaker and listener responses related to increased conditioned reinforcement for voices resulting from the auditory matching protocol.




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