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 #316
CE Offered: BACB
Strategies to Assess and Develop Verbal Behavior in Children With Autism
Monday, May 28, 2012
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
101 (TCC)
Area: VRB/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Amber L. Valentino (Marcus Autism Center)
Discussant: Matthew P. Normand (University of the Pacific)
CE Instructor: Amber L. Valentino, Psy.D.

Communication deficits are a marked feature of autism spectrum disorders. In order to address communication deficits, intensive behavioral intervention programs for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities often incorporate the conceptual analysis from B.F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior (1957) into their intervention strategies (Love, Carr, Almason, & Petursdottir, 2009). Therefore, the investigation of procedures to assess and develop verbal behavior in children with autism is needed. This symposium will present data from three studies which investigate the use of procedures to assess and develop verbal behavior. Phillips and Vollmer examined the potential roles of blocking and over-shadowing in the acquisition of textual responses when sight words were presented as compound stimuli consisting of the word plus a picture. Bowen, Shillingsburg, & Delfs examined a procedure to increase intraverbal behavior via direct teaching while embedding visual stimuli as nontargeted information into instruction. A final study (Valentino, Shillingsburg, Conine & Powell) compared differential reinforcement and the cues-pause-point procedure on the effectiveness of reducing echolalia of discriminative stimuli during echoic training. Results are discussed in terms of the application of these procedures to the treatment of communication deficits in children with autism.

Keyword(s): Blocking, Echolalia, Over-shadowing, Verbal operants

An Evaluation of the Picture-word Problem in Sight Reading With Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders

CARA L. PHILLIPS (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)

Individual with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other Intellectual Disabilities (ID) often fail to acquire the textual response when sight words are presented as compound stimuli consisting of the word plus a picture (e.g., Didden et al., 2000). It is often assumed that this is the result of blocking; however, it is possible that the effect may be due to over-shadowing. This study replicates the previous research and examines the potential roles of blocking and over-shadowing. Four elementary school aged boys with ASD are participating. For each, 12 unknown sight words were identified, half corresponding with a known tact and half with a novel tact. For each of these categories, half the words were presented as a word alone and half as a compound stimulus consisting of the word embedded in a black and white line drawing. This resulted in three targets in each of four experimental conditions: known simple (control for blocking), novel simple (control for over-shadowing), known compound (test for blocking), and novel compound (test for over-shadowing). To date, although three of four participants show the picture-word effect, only one participants performance indicates a blocking effect. These procedures suggest a simple test for optimal sight reading stimulus presentation.


Acquisition of Tact Behavior Through Embedding Visual Stimuli in Intraverbal Teaching

CRYSTAL N. BOWEN (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center), Caitlin H. Delfs (Marcus Autism Center)

Identifying efficient procedures for teaching language to children with autism spectrum disorder could have a significant impact on intervention. One way to achieve efficiency is to utilize procedures to promote incidental learning during instruction. Incidental learning allows students to acquire information that is present in the instructional context but for which there are no programmed contingencies (Stevenson, 1972). Embedding nontargeted information into teaching procedures is one method to promote incidental learning and may provide learners with the opportunity to acquire additional skills without requiring additional instructional time. The current study examined a procedure aimed to increase intraverbal behavior via direct teaching while embedding visual stimuli as nontargeted information into instruction. A constant time delay was used to teach intraverbal behavior. Acquisition of tacting behavior was assessed for the embedded stimuli. One male diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder completed the study. Data show that the participant acquired all directly taught targets and was able to effectively tact visual stimuli that were embedded into intraverbal instruction without any direct teaching.


Differential Reinforcement With and Without the Cues Pause Point Procedure as Treatments for Echolalia

AMBER L. VALENTINO (Marcus Autism Center), Daniel Conine (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center)

Previous research on children with autism has demonstrated that the cues-pause-point procedure is effective in decreasing echolalia when it interferes with the development of the intraverbal repertoires. Previous research did not separate the effects of differential reinforcement and the cues pause point procedure. In addition, previous research did not extend the procedure to verbal operants other than the intraverbal. Therefore, the purpose of the current investigation was to determine whether differential reinforcement alone would be as effective as differential reinforcement combined with the cues-pause-point procedure in reducing echolalia and increasing correct responding in the echoic repertoire in two children with autism. A multiple probe across behaviors design was used to isolate the effects of differential reinforcement from the cues-pause-point procedure in two participants with autism. Results indicated that differential reinforcement alone did not decrease echolalia and the full cues-pause-point procedure was necessary. For one participant, components of the procedures were systematically faded.




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