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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Poster Session #189
Poster Session 1
Sunday, May 27, 2012
12:00 PM–2:00 PM
Exhibit Hall 4AB (Convention Center)

Teaching Language to Children With Developmental Disabilities Using a Combined Stimulus-Stimulus Pairing and Direct Reinforcement Procedure

Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
BRIGHID H. FRONAPFEL (Western Michigan University), Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)

Several researchers have used stimulus-stimulus pairing (SSP) to increase the frequency of specific vocalizations in children with disabilities. However, only a few addressed the utility of SSP to increase functional language (e.g., mands and tacts), and none combined SSP and direct reinforcement (DR). The present study combined SSP and DR to successfully teach2 to10 functional mands in 49 7-minute sessions or less with 4 children with developmental disabilities (two diagnosed with autism, one with a developmental delay, and one with Down syndrome). Initially, none of the4 children emitted mands or tacts. The children also demonstrated little to no vocal imitation and spontaneously vocalized only 1 to 14 phonemes. Following mand training,2 children continued into Study II and were successfully taught 10 tacts for pictures in a maximum of 38, 10-trial sessions.


Using Brief Functional Analysis to Determine the Functions of Emerging Speech in Children With Autism

Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
VICTORIA BURNEY (University Of Auckland), Angela M. Arnold Saritepe (University of Auckland)

Developing strategies that lead to more effective language teaching programs is of key importance for teachers of children with autism. Skinners theory of verbal behaviour has allowed for the investigation of functions of verbal responses. Research by Lerman, Parten, Addison, Vorndran, Volkert and Kodak (2005) used functional analysis to assess the elementary functions of emerging language in children with developmental disabilities. The current study applied a brief functional analysis methodology to the assessment of emerging language in children with autism. The aims were to investigate if a shortened language assessment could identify functions of verbal behaviour and if results could be used to develop a language teaching program. Participants were five children, between the ages of five and ten, who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Participants had limited verbal language, but could emit at least one vocal response. Results show that brief functional analyses were able to identify at least one function of target verbal responses for each participant. Teaching data suggest that a brief functional analysis of language provides sufficient information from which to develop an individualised language teaching strategy. Furthermore, this brief assessment could be easily taught to staff, maximising their ability to individualise programming.

3. Contrived Establishing Operations and Backward Chaining to Teach Children with Autism to Mand for Information
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
EVELYN BOATENG (Saint Xavier University), Tracy L. Kettering (Bancroft), Kassity Johnson (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Susan K. Malmquist (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: Asking a question is a mand, but teaching children with autism to mand for information may be difficult because the requested information may not function as a reinforcer. Previous research evaluting methods to teach children with autism to mand for information have often involved providing access to some additional source of reinforcement in addition to the information requested (i.e., a reinforcer not specified in the mand is provided) (e.g., Taylor & Harris, 1995). Although this may increase mands, the responses may not be controlled by the establishing operation (EO) and reinforcer specified by the mand (i.e., the answer), and thus responses may not persist when the alternative source of reinforcement is no longer provided. In the current study, an EO was contrived by teaching a response chain to access preferred items using backward chaining combined with a time delay procedure. Participants were first taught to mand for a preferred item. Following acquisition, the item was hidden in a box and participants were taught to mand for information about the item in the box. All three participants acquired the response chain (emitting a mand for information about the item in the box and emitting a mand to acces the item ). All participants continued to emit the target mand for information during generalization when a low preferred item was hidden into the box on 50% of trials. Participants did not emit the second response in the chain (i.e., mand for the item) when the information about the low-preferred stimulus in the box followed the mand for information. These data support conclusions that both mands were controlled by the EO and reinforcement contingencies appropriate to each response.

Mandand Tact Training: A Comparison of Teaching Procedures

Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
KAREN PEEL (University of Auckland), Angela M. Arnold Saritepe (University of Auckland)

Research investigating how best to support the development of functional language is of significance to populations that historically present with language delays. Kodak and Clements (2009) found that when single procedures failed to succeed, the combination of echoic training with mand or tact training was successful in facilitating the acquisition of mands and tacts. Two boys and one girl with autism received mand and tact training for three verbal operants (mands and tacts) each. The boys acquired all operants without requiring echoic training. The girl participant required echoic training on one mand only. Data showed echoic training as having some effect, but when the percentage of unprompted responses indicated a declining trend, it was hypothesised that the mand was losing its value as a reinforcer. Findings indicate that mand-only and tact-only training can be effective in helping children acquire spoken language. When this is not effective the introduction of echoic training can be beneficial.


Teaching Tacting Behavior in Preschool Children Diagnosed With ASD, Using High Probability (high-p) Request Sequences

Area: VRB; Domain: Service Delivery
DEBRA A. FLOYD (Macon County Mental Health Board)

High probability (high-p) request sequences have been used to teach many important behaviors when noncompliance is a major factor. Much research has been done using high-p sequences with severe behavior problems in children with developmental delays, including children with ASD. In all existing studies of children diagnosed with ASD, high-p request sequences have proven effective in teaching compliance with requests (Banda, 2003). In this study, this method was used with preschool children diagnosed with ASD who had a repertoire of several easy-to-follow requests (tacts) in combination with an adult maintaining close proximity to the child. This has proven to keep the child's attention, convey a rapid conveyance of the sequence and been successful in adding and learning a new tact (low-p) following the high-p sequence. Data was collected using a single subject reversal design with baseline data consisting of the introduction of the dependant variable (new tact) under the typical means of what is this? The independent variable (high-p) sequence request was then introduced in a 12 second rapid burst of 4 tacts that were in the childs repertoire followed by a low-p request, repeated as many times as the child would respond in a 3 minute time allotment.


A Comparison of Most-to-Least Prompting and Graduated Guidance to Teach Sign Tacts

Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
LENY D. VELASQUEZ VELASQUEZ (Munroe Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Scott A. Miller (Florida Institute of Technology), Celeste Harvey (Florida Institute of Technology)

A single-case, parallel treatment design was used to systematically compare the effectiveness and efficiency of two prompt fading procedures in teaching two participants to label pictures using two component signs. In the most to least prompting (MTL) condition, a predetermined prompt hierarchy composed mostly of physical prompts was used to fade assistance across trials. In the graduated guidance (GG) condition, prompts were faded within trials at the trainers discretion. Both prompting procedures resulted in the increased performance of target signs; participant 1 achieved mastery of two out of three signs when taught using graduated guidance. Participant 2 acquired the same target signs under the most to least condition. The results also indicate that MTL resulted in more errors per session than GG. While the number of teaching sessions remained fairly consistent with Participant 1, the rate of acquisition increased dramatically with Participant 2 when the number of teaching sessions per day was increased. This study extends literature on prompt fading procedures and may provide support for prompt fading procedures that combine aspects of both MTL and GG.


Language Skill Acquisition as a Function of Multiple Variables via ABA in Children With Developmental Disabilities

Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
AMBER RHODES (Marcus Autism Center)

Few studies have evaluated the importance of various factors, such as the effect of treatment intensity on treatment outcomes. The objective of this study is to evaluate the relationship of treatment hours and the number of months in treatment with the rate of skill acquisition. The study will evaluate treatment progress for 55 children receiving Applied Behavior Analysis techniques of Verbal Behavior Therapy. The data, which will be used in this study, are archival and obtained from the clinical records of patients referred to an ABA based language and learning clinic day treatment program. We hypothesize that children who have received verbal behavior therapy in a learning language clinic will acquire language skills at a faster rate the more months (duration) they are in treatment. Also, children who have received verbal behavior therapy in a learning language clinic will acquire language skills at a faster rate the more hours (intensity) they are in treatment per month. This research is important to gain a better understanding of the most effective treatment methods for language delays. There are few studies with an adequate sample size to make evidence based decisions related to language delay treatments.

8. Testing the Effects of an Auditory Matching Procedure on the Emission of Intraverbal Tacts
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Abstract: This study tested the effects of an auditory matching-to-sample procedure on the emission of intraverbal tacts emitted by three children with autism. The children in the study lacked an intraverbal tact repertoire to varied intraverbal antecedents in response to a single picture stimulus. Specifically, the children did not discriminate varied “wh” questions in response to a single picture (e.g., “who is it?” versus “what is she doing?”). The auditory matching procedure was a systematic replication of Chavez-Brown (2005), with an additional phase that involved teaching the participants to auditory match multiple exemplars of “wh” questions that were presented on audio recording devices. A multiple probe design was implemented. Teaching sessions utilizing the auditory matching procedure were conducted separately from probe sessions that tested the emission of intraverbal tacts. Results showed that the percentage accuracy of intraverbal tacts increased for all 3 of the participants following the auditory matching sequence. Phase 1: Auditory matching of word (i.e., cup) using nonsense phonemes as non-exemplar (i.e., baba) Phase 2: Auditory matching of word (i.e., cup) using another word as a non-exemplar (i.e., bed) Phase 3(target 1): Auditory matching of target phrase (“who is it”) using another ‘wh’ phrase as a non-exemplar (i.e., “what is it”) Phase 4(target 2): Auditory matching of target phrase (“what is it”) using another ‘wh’ phrase as a non-exemplar (i.e., “what is he doing”) Phase 5(target 3): Auditory matching of target phrase (“what color is it”) using another ‘wh’ phrase as a non-exemplar (i.e., “what is it”) Phase 6(target 4): Auditory matching of target phrase (“what is he/she doing”) using another ‘wh’ phrase as a non-exemplar (i.e., “who is it”) Phase 7 (target 5): Auditory matching of all 4 taught phrases (who is it, what is it, what color is it, what is he/she doing interspersed) using all ‘wh’ phrases as a non-exemplar. The following phases are yet to be implemented: Probe 6 after phase 6 (target 4) and Probe 7 after phase 7 (target 5) are yet to be tested for all three participants.

The Effects of Types of Stimuli on Naming Probes and the Induction of Naming From Multiple Exemplar Instruction for Two Students Diagnosed With Autism

Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Jinhyeok Choi (Teachers College, Columbia University), MELISSA LIU (Teachers College, Columbia University)

We examined the effects of using different types of stimuli during Naming probe sessions on the levels of correct responding following multiple exemplar instruction (MEI) to induce the Naming capability. The dependent variables were the correct responses to the Naming probes for two types of stimuli prior to and following the completion of MEI. The independent variable was the mastery of MEI. Results show that for both students the Naming capability was shown to be present when complex stimuli were used, and required additional instruction for the Naming capability to be shown with simple stimuli. This study will discuss possible reasons for these findings as well as possible procedural changes to strengthen the findings.

10. Coherence as a Generalized Conditioned Reinforcer
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
LARRY TUBBS (University of Mississippi), Elizabeth Sargent (University of Mississippi), Michael Bordieri (University of Mississippi), Kate Kellum (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: The purpose of this investigation is to extend our understanding of the role coherence plays in complex human verbal behavior. Put simply, coherence can be defined as relating arbitrary concepts in ways that go together, and it is the means by which humans make sense of the world. Previous research has demonstrated that this act of coherent relational responding has many of the same properties of non-verbal behavior in that it can be shaped and reinforced by the environment. It has long been theoretically assumed that coherence itself serves as a reinforcer in verbally competent humans; yet to our knowledge this claim has yet to be subject to direct empirical testing. Preliminary data collected demonstrated that undergraduate participants asked to match novel stimuli in a computerized match to sample preparation allocated responding in ways consistent with previous non-reinforced testing trials in the absence of any programmed consequences. These obtained results lend support to the view that coherence is a generalized conditioned reinforcer and additional participants will be assessed to further examine this phenomenon. Results and implications for future inquiry into coherence and higher order verbal behavior will be discussed.

The Role of Reinforcing Function of Stimuli in Speaker Behavior

Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
LUIZA GUIMARAES (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos), A. Celso Goyos (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos)

Many studies have shown that the speaker performance on naming tests of equivalent stimuli is more accurate when a topographically identical response is emitted in the presence of a picture compared to when it is emitted in the presence of a printed word. Although individuals may pass tests of symmetry and transitivity, the stimuli involved in the equivalence classes do not seem to be truly equivalent. The purpose of this study was to investigate if the reinforcing value of verbal relations involving picture and printed word equivalent stimuli, and which of these two verbal relations are preferred by participants. Six university students and eight typically developing children without reading repertoire participated in experiment. The general procedure consisted of two phases; the first one was a matching -to-sample teaching procedure (MTS) to establish equivalence relations and the second was a concurrent chains choice procedure used to evaluate preference for tasks. The results indicated indifference between verbal relations controlled by picture and printed word tasks, which is consistent with the establishment of equivalence relations and the fact that participants showed similar performance in naming pictures and printed words.


Matching-to-Sample With Video as Sample and Comparison and the Emergence of Symmetry in Children

Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Larissa Pires Ruiz (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos), NASSIM CHAMEL ELIAS (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos), A. Celso Goyos (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos)

This study was designed to observe conditional discrimination performance in an automated matching-to-sample procedure when comparison stimuli were digital videos presented simultaneously. Participants were four normally developing five-year-old children with no formal manual signing. The experimental stimuli consisted of nine manual signs and the corresponding actions all presented as digital videos. Teaching was introduced first and consisted of imitating signs (mimetic) and choosing one among three action videos (i. e., jumping, sitting, kicking) presented simultaneously in the presence of the sign in a matching-to-sample context. After criterion was met on all teaching relations, testing was introduced and consisted of (1) choosing one among three videos of signs presented simultaneously in the presence of the action video (symmetry), and (2) presenting an action video and the instruction for the child to sign (tact) for the corresponding action. Results indicated the emergence of symmetric relations and emergence and maintenance of tact responses. Establishing conditional discrimination with videos as samples and comparisons may represent an important feature to teach autoclitic repertoire, such as grammar and word sequence.


A Comparison of Simple and Complex Auditory-Visual Conditional Discriminations

Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
CECELIA R. MADERITZ (Youngstown State University), Rocio Rosales (Youngstown State University), Ashley Way (Youngstown State University), Mary Vallinger (Youngstown State University)

A variety of training procedures have been demonstrated to produce emergent relations in typically developing children, and children with developmental disabilities. For example, simple and complex conditional discrimination training have both received empirical support in basic and applied research (e.g., Maguire et al., 1994; Groskreutz et al., 2010, Lane & Critchfield, 1998). However, the effectiveness of the two procedures has not been directly compared. Therefore, in the present study, an alternating treatments design was employed to teach sight word reading and reading comprehension to participants with and without developmental disabilities. Stimulus sets were assigned to either a simple- or complex-sample training condition. During the simple-sample condition, participants were first taught to conditionally relate dictated names to their corresponding pictures (A-B), and then taught to relate dictated names to their corresponding printed words (A-C). During the complex-sample condition, participants were presented with a dictated name and picture, and taught to conditionally relate this complex sample to its corresponding printed word (AB-C). Investigating procedures that establish emergent relations in the most efficient manner is important to increase the efficiency of academic instruction. Results will be discussed with respect to the training time required for each condition and areas for future research.




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