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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #224
CE Offered: BACB
Interdisciplinary Applications of Behavior Analysis: Speech, Language, Literacy, and Mobility
Sunday, May 25, 2008
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Stevens 2
Area: DDA/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Michael J. Cameron (Simmons College)
CE Instructor: Michael J. Cameron, Ph.D.

This symposium will focus on the application of behavior analytic methodologies for the assessment and treatment of interdisciplinary issues. We will demonstrate the broad application of behavior analysis via four data-based studies. The first study centers on the structural analysis and treatment of severe childhood stuttering. The second study demonstrates how behavior analytic procedures can be used for teaching conversational skills to a child with a language delay. The next study demonstrates how reading comprehension can be enhanced as a result of procedures based on the basic principles of applied behavior analysis. And the final study will focus on teaching orientation and mobility skills to a child who is blind. The importance of demonstrating the relevance of behavior analysis across disciplines will be emphasized within this symposium.

Structural Analysis and Treatment of Severe Stuttering.
MICHELE D. MAYER (HMEA), Cathy J. Booth (Private Practice), Michael J. Cameron (Simmons College)
Abstract: Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions, prolongations, or abnormal stoppages of sounds and syllables (APA, 2000). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, delineates several important observations centered on stuttering; simply stated, stuttering is governed by context, and ostensibly there is a need to understand the interactional relationship between speech and prevailing contexts. The purpose of this study was to conduct a structural analysis to identify the conditions that exacerbated the stuttering behavior of a 4 year-old boy and to use the results of the structural analysis to inform treatment. Results of the structural analysis suggested a co-variation between speech production and disfluent motor performances. In consequence, fluency training, in the area of motor performances, was introduced in a multiple baseline design fashion to assess improvements in speech production. Motor movement fluency training resulted in a 30 to 60% improvement in speech production. Inter-observer agreement data were collected on 100% of all opportunities and exceeded 95% agreement. The relevance of structural analyses and direct, simultaneous intervention in the areas of speech production and motor movement are discussed.
Teaching Initiation of Language to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
SUSAN AINSLEIGH (Simmons College), Rebecca Fontaine (Simmons College)
Abstract: Children with autism spectrum disorders often demonstrate difficulty in the ability to initiate conversations. Indeed, impairment in the ability to initiate a conversation is listed as a diagnostic component of autistic disorder (DSM-IV, 2000). Even in those individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder who demonstrate adequate speech, such as those with Asperger syndrome, impairments in initiation of language for social interaction are often seen (Atwood, 2000). Strategies for increasing the frequency or complexity of interactional language may be unsuccessful for an individual in natural social situations because they fail to capitalize on natural opportunities to initiate a conversation with another person. This study examines the use of a number of behavioral strategies, including a variety of prompting strategies and antecedent manipulations, to increase initiation of conversation with three children diagnosed with either pervasive developmental disorder or Asperger syndrome. The effectiveness of various forms of prompting, including echoic verbal prompting, textual prompting, and gestural prompting were compared, as were different formats of textual prompting, to determine superiority of effect. Results showed that combining echoic and textual prompting produced higher levels of social initiation. Strategies used to promote generalization of this skill are included.
Language, Literacy and Applied Behavior Analysis.
STEPHANIE NOSTIN (Speech Therapy Group, LLC., Beverly, MA), Michael J. Cameron (Simmons College)
Abstract: Comprehension is the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language. For many beginning readers, comprehension strategies must be explicitly taught. Several strategies, based on the basic principles of applied behavior analysis, can be useful for teaching reading comprehension skills. The aim of this study was to demonstrate how the complexity of the task demand (i.e., reading and comprehending text) can be managed by using: (1) methods for scaffolding whole-task practice, (2) simple-to-complex sequencing, (3) using alternative tasks such as worked-out examples and completion tasks, and (4) the step-by-step presentation of procedural information for extracting information from text. Three struggling readers served as participants in this study. A reading comprehension instructional program (consisting of the aforementioned components) was applied using a multiple baseline across subjects experimental design. Dependent variables included: (1) answers to comprehension questions, (2) elaboration during story “re-telling”, and (3) retention of information. Following the implementation of the reading comprehension program each participant improved their performances on each outcome measure by at least 50%. Inter-observer agreement was calculated after viewing video taped performances and exceeded 85% agreement. The interrelationship between applied behavior analysis and literacy development is emphasized in this study.
Applications of Behavior Analysis to Support Orientation and Mobility Training.
MICHAEL J. CAMERON (Simmons College), Barbara Birge (Perkins School for the Blind), Martha Majors (Perkins School for the Blind)
Abstract: Orientation and mobility training (O & M) helps blind or visually impaired children know where they are in space and where they want to go (orientation). It also helps children execute a plan to get to a desired destination (mobility). The purpose of this study was to demonstrate how the results of a stimulus control analysis of movement and behavior analytic procedures could be used to increase independent movement in a young girl with congenital blindness, developmental disabilities, and a protracted history of falling to the floor during sighted guide instruction. Independent variables included: (1) use of a cane, (2) freedom of movement as a reinforcer for tolerating assisted movement, and (3) the use of a supported routine. Dependent variables included: (1) distance traveled per opportunity, (2) instances of falling, (3) generalization across teachers, and parents, and (4) generalization across environments. The results of this study resulted in an eradication of falling, assisted mobility throughout the course of her day, and generalization across teachers, parents, and environments. Inter-observer agreement data were collected on 60% of all movement opportunities; there was 100% agreement on all measures. The implications of addressing orientation and mobility challenges via a behavior analytic approach are highlighted.



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