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 #219
CE Offered: BACB
Strategies for Establishing and Teaching the Implementation of Functional Communication Skills to Children With Autism
Sunday, May 27, 2012
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
305 (TCC)
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Cecelia R. Maderitz (Youngstown State University)
Discussant: Andy Bondy (Pyramid Educational Consultants)
CE Instructor: Margaret M. Flores, Ph.D.

The importance of establishing functional communication skills has been empirically validated with numerous studies demonstrating decreases in problem behavior when functional communication is established (Carr & Durand, 1985; Charlop-Christy et al., 2002.) Fewer studies, however, have explored strategies to teach instructional staff how to implement these skills; and even fewer have investigated the effectiveness of different emerging modes of functional communication (i.e., with use of the iPad, iPod, and iPhone). Given the ready availability of this technology, it is critical that these forms of alternative augmentative communication be explored and evaluated. In this symposium, results from 2 studies investigating the effectiveness of a behavioral skills training package (BST) to implement the Picture Exchange Communication System ( PECS) will first be presented. The most important potential components of the BST will be highlighted, and applications for larger group settings will be discussed. In addition, results from two studies evaluating the relative effectiveness of a picture-based and technology-based system (i.e., Apple iPad) will be reviewed. The symposium will culminate with recommendations for those interested in future related research.

Keyword(s): Autism, Functional Communication, PECS, Staff Training

A Further Evaluation of Behavioral Skills Training on the Implementation and Generalization of The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

CHRISTA HOMLITAS (Youngstown State University), Rocio Rosales (Youngstown State University), Lindsay Morgart (The Rich Center for Autism), Cecelia R. Maderitz (Youngstown State University)

We investigated the effectiveness of a behavioral skills training (BST) package with one less component (i.e., a training video) than that used in a previous study by Rosales et al. (2009) to teach Phases 1-3A of the picture exchange communication system (PECS.) The BST package, which consisted of written and verbal instructions, modeling, role play with a confederate, and feedback, was implemented using a multiple baseline across 3 instructional staff members employed at a center serving children with autism spectrum disorders. Results indicated the effectiveness of the training package across all 3 participants. In addition, generalization and maintenance of the skills acquired was evident when probes were conducted in the classroom environment with students to whom the instructional staff were assigned to work with on a daily basis. In a second experiment, the BST package was implemented in a group setting with newly hired instructional staff to evaluate the effectiveness and potential efficiency of this training. Results will be discussed with respect to the implications for future trainings in clinical settings for individuals who work with children with limited functional communication skills.


A Comparison of Communication Using the Apple iPad and a Picture-based System

MARGARET M. FLORES (Auburn University), Doris L. Hill (Auburn University)

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) interventions have been shown to improve both communication and social skills in children and youth with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities (Simpson et al., 2005). AAC applications have become available for personal devices such as cell phones, MP3 Players, and personal computer tablets. It is critical that these new forms of AAC are explored and evaluated. Therefore, the purpose of this case study was to investigate the utility of the Apple iPad as a communication device. The researchers compared the effects of the Apple iPad and a picture card communication system. Five elementary students with autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities who currently used a picture card system participated in the study. The students made requests using either picture cards or a communication application on the Apple iPad. The researchers compared the number of communication behaviors within these conditions. The results were mixed; communication behaviors either increased or remained the same.


Comparing Picture Exchange and the iPad for Communication of Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder

DORIS L. HILL (Auburn University), Margaret M. Flores (Auburn University)

Both the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and technology-based treatments are emerging treatments for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the National Autism Center (2011). Recently, investigations regarding the use of the Apple iPad to communicate have been conducted with mixed results. The purpose of this study was to compare students with autism spectrum disorders and developmental delays communication using picture cards and a communication application on the Apple iPad. Using the PECS protocol, the researchers compared independent responses using the Proloquo2go iPad application and PECS using Proloquo2 go symbols. An alternating treatment design was employed to compare the treatments the results were mixed with no consistent difference across participants. Preference assessments were also mixed.




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