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

Previous Page


Symposium #342
CE Offered: BACB
Assessing Prerequisite Skills and Teaching Conditional Discriminations via Blocked Trials to Children Diagnosed with Autism
Monday, May 28, 2012
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
101 (TCC)
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Rachel Lee Koelker (Child Study Center)
Discussant: James E. Carr (Behavior Analyst Certification Board)
CE Instructor: Rachel Lee Koelker, M.S.
Abstract: Everyday environments include a multitude of complex stimulus conditions. Responding appropriately to complex stimulus relations is a necessary part of many important social, verbal, and academic skills. Individuals whose behavior is not effectively controlled by conditional stimulus relations are likely to have difficulty in social situations and with completing academic tasks. Many children diagnosed with autism have difficulty acquiring conditional discriminations, including match to sample and intraverbal skills. This symposium includes data from three studies investigating how to effectively and efficiently bring the behavior of children diagnosed with autism under conditional stimulus control. The first study (Kodak et al.) evaluates an assessment tool to identify if children have the prerequisite skills to learn conditional discriminations by comparing acquisition of conditional discriminations between participants who emitted all suggested prerequisite skills and those who did not. The next two studies (Slocum et al., & Ingvarsson et al.) examined the use of a blocked trials procedure to establish conditional discriminations using a multiple baseline across responses design. Together, the data from these three studies suggest prerequisite skills and teaching procedures to effectively and efficiently bring the behavior of children with autism under conditional stimulus control.
Keyword(s): Assessment, Blocked Trials, Conditional Discrimination

Measuring Prerequisite Skills for Teaching Auditory-Visual Conditional Discriminations to Children with Autism

TIFFANY KODAK (University of Oregon), Andrea Clements Stearns (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Joslyn Cynkus Mintz (Marcus Autism Center), Nitasha Dickes (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Amber R. Paden (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

One skill area receiving increased attention in the behavior-analytic literature involves teaching conditional discriminations to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). An auditory-visual (A-V) conditional discrimination requires the individual to attend to and discriminate between auditory stimuli (e.g., spoken words), scan an array of picture cards on the table, discriminate between important features of picture cards, and imitate the teachers model (if the teacher points to the correct picture in the array). Thus, skills such as scanning, imitation, auditory discriminations, visual discriminations, and matching may be critical prerequisite skills to the development of conditional discriminations. Despite the importance of teaching conditional discriminations and the large amount of time focused on teaching these skills, there are few assessment tools that predict whether children have important prerequisite skills to begin conditional discrimination training. The current investigation evaluated an assessment tool to measure prerequisite skills for A-V conditional discrimination training. We validated the results of the assessment tool by comparing acquisition of conditional discriminations in individuals who did or did not demonstrate mastery of prerequisite skills. Eight children diagnosed with an ASD participated in the investigation. Results indicated that the assessment of prerequisite skills accurately predicted whether children acquired A-V discriminations.


An Evaluation of Blocked-Trials Procedure to Teach Conditional Discriminations to a Child with Autism

SARAH K. SLOCUM (University of Florida), Sarah J. Miller (Louisiana State University), Jeffrey H. Tiger (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)

Children with autism and other intellectual disabilities may struggle in the development of conditional-discrimination repertoires. Previous research has suggested that presenting teaching trials in blocks in which the instructor presents the same sample stimulus repeatedly across trials in lieu of randomly alternating targets across trials and then fades the number of trials in each block, can facilitate the acquisition of these discriminations. We examined the use of a blocked-trials procedure in teaching three conditional discriminations to a child with autism using a nonconcurrent multiple baseline design and evaluated the necessity of fading the block size. Our results indicated that blocking trials resulted in the acquisition of these conditional discriminations. In addition, systematically fading the block size was not necessary in order to maintain that discriminated performance. Based on our findings, this blocking procedure may be a beneficial tool for teachers and practitioners in the instruction of conditional-discrimination tasks to persons with autism and other intellectual disabilities.

An Evaluation of the Blocked-Trial Procedure to Establish Conditional Discriminations during Intraverbal Training
EINAR T. INGVARSSON (University of North Texas), Rachel Lee Koelker (Child Study Center), Heather Macias (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Children with autism frequently emit intraverbal responses that are under inappropriate or restricted stimulus control. We evaluated the blocked-trials procedure (Saunders and Spradlin, 1990) to bring intraverbal responses of three children with autism under conditional stimulus control. The target responses were answers to pairs of questions that differed minimally (e.g., "What do you sweep?" vs. "What do you sweep with?"). The blocked-trial procedure consisted of presenting the question forms in separate, alternating trial blocks (i.e., each question form was presented until 5 consecutive correct responses occurred). The size of the trial blocks was gradually reduced, and eventually the question forms were randomly interspersed. A multiple baseline across responses design demonstrated that the blocked-trials procedure resulted in mastery of all targeted responses. With two participants, procedural modifications (longer trial blocks and the inclusion of distracter trials) were needed to achieve mastery of the first targeted question pair. For all participants, the number of trials errors and to criterion tended to decrease with each successive question pair that was targeted. The results suggest that the blocked-trials procedure is an effective and efficient approach to establish conditional stimulus control of the intraverbal responses of children with autism.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh