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 #20
CE Offered: BACB
Contemporary Research in the Acquisition of Complex Social Skills
Saturday, May 26, 2012
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
LL02 (TCC)
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Marianne L. Jackson (California State University, Fresno)
CE Instructor: Marianne L. Jackson, Ph.D.
Abstract: This symposium presents a range of presentations on the development of complex skills considered necessary for effective social interactions. The first study analyzed the effects of deictic frame training, thought to be necessary for perspective taking, on performance on traditional Theory of Mind tests. Participants were all children with a diagnosis of autism. Data suggest that training on deictic frames is not sufficient to impact performance on Theory of Mind tests. The second study examined one type of deictic frame (I-YOU) by training multiple exemplars and testing for generalization across all levels of complexity. Data suggest that responses to the relations of I-YOU show the property of generalization only after multiple exemplar training has occurred within that level of complexity. These data add weight to the suggestion that deictic relations form a generalized operant. The third study evaluated the use of multiple exemplar training to teach children with autism to understand and respond to metaphorical questions. Result show that this methodology was effective in teaching appropriate responses to metaphorical statements. In addition, all participants showed generalization to untrained metaphors. The final presentation discusses the evolution of a data-driven behavioral social skills program. Issues discussed include the difficulty of obtaining rigorous and comprehensive data on all relevant target behaviors while preserving some elements of a natural social situation, methods of obtaining direct and indirect data on generalization of these skills, and the selection of an appropriate unit for data collection given the interdependent nature of responses. All presentations discuss their topic in relation to advancing the social skills of individuals with a diagnosis of autism or Asperger's Syndrome.
Keyword(s): Asperger's Syndrome, Autism, Perspective taking, Social skills

An Examination of the Relation Between Basic Deictic Frames and Performance of Traditional Theory of Mind Tasks

DENA MENDOZA (California State University, Fresno), Marianne L. Jackson (California State University, Fresno)

Social skills are a core deficit in children with all forms of autism. Klin, Volkmar, and Sparrow (1992) have attributed the lack of social skills to a deficit in perspective-taking abilities, or the ability to think about other peoples thinking. Developmental research on perspective-taking has utilized the concept known as Theory of Mind, an understanding of other peoples mental states. A relatively recent approach to language and cognition has emerged from the field of behavior analysis called Relational Frame Theory (RFT). McHugh, Barnes-Holmes, and Barnes-Holmes (2004) developed a perspective-taking protocol named the Barnes-Holmes protocol. The protocol consists of 62 trials assessing the relational frames of I-You, Here-There, and Now-Then across three deictic relations (Simple, Reversed, & Double-Reversed). Although research has not been published regarding the effects of the Barnes-Holmes protocol on Theory of Mind tasks, there appears to be an underlying assumption that acquiring these skills will increase Theory of Mind abilities. The current study attempts to teach deictic frames to three children diagnosed with autism using multiple exemplar training and positive reinforcement. In addition, it will evaluate the effects of this training on traditional Theory of Mind tasks.


Programming for Generalization of Perspective-Taking Abilities Using Deictic Relational Responding in Children With Autism

AMBER MARIE CANDIDO (University of Nevada, Reno), Marianne L. Jackson (California State University, Fresno)

The development of perspective-taking has attracted interest from educators and psychologists due in part to its role in developmental disabilities such as autism. The current study is using a behavior analytic approach to train perspective-taking skills using a perspective-taking protocol. In addition, the training has also incorporated a multiple exemplar design in attempt to program for generalization of the skills. In doing so, children acquired the skills by introducing one question and perspective at a time. As acquisition of the material furthers, questions and perspectives being taught will increase in level of difficulty. It is believed that through the use of the selected protocol and training design that participants will acquire both the perspective taking skills and the ability to generalize these skills to novel settings.


Establishing Metaphorical Reasoning in Children With Autism

Angela M. Persicke (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Jonathan J. Tarbox (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), JENNIFER RANICK (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)

Research has shown that children with autism have difficulty with non-literal language, such as irony, sarcasm, deception, humor, and metaphors. To date, few studies have attempted to remediate these deficits and no studies, of which we are aware, have attempted to teach children with autism to understand metaphors. Metaphorical reasoning consists of complex verbal behavior, involving relations of reflexivity, hierarchy, and distinction, at a minimum. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate multiple exemplar training for teaching children with autism to attend to relevant features of the context in which a metaphor is used, and to engage in the required relational responding, in order to respond correctly to metaphorical questions. Participants included 3 children, ages 5-7. Results suggest that multiple exemplar training is effective for teaching children with autism to understand metaphors. Furthermore, generalization to untrained metaphors was found.


Issues in the Development and Evaluation of a Data-Driven Social Skills Program for Individuals With Asperger's Syndrome

LAURA BARCELOS (California State University, Fresno), Marianne L. Jackson (California State University, Fresno), Allie Baldwin (California State University, Fresno), Jovonnie E-Leal (California State University, Fresno)

This presentation discusses the evolution of a data-driven behavioral social skills program. One of the major difficulties encountered in the development of a social skills program involves the collection of relevant data in ways that minimize reactivity and intrusiveness into the social interactions. An additional difficulty concerns the evaluation of such a program's effectivness outside of the training situation. Although indirect data involving data reported by parents or the individuals themselves are easier to collect, direct observations and data prove to be more difficult. Data suggest that the organization of activities and outings involving typical peers present one potential solution to this issue. A further difficulty encountered centers around the interdependence of measures both within and across participants. For example, procedures targeted at increasing question asking often deceased question answering and / or commenting and vice-versa. In addition, large increases in the responses of one individual, often correlate with decreases in responses from some other participants. Data suggest that interventions targeting a dependent variable that includes the whole interaction, in conjunction with goal setting, self-monitoring, may help to alleviate some of these difficulties. Future directions are also discussed.




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