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 #258
CE Offered: BACB
Early Experience and Language Ability: From Observational Learning to Derived Relational Responding
Sunday, May 25, 2008
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Area: DEV/VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Timothy M. Weil (University of South Florida)
Discussant: David C. Palmer (Smith College)
CE Instructor: Timothy M. Weil, Ph.D.

This symposium will cover basic behavioral repertoires necessary for the acquisition of language as well as the importance of derived relational responding in building flexible use of language. The first paper will discuss the importance of observing responses with respect to the acquisition of over-arching operant classes. The second paper will extend this area to discussion of the importance of joint-attention and social referencing in establishing language repertoires and as necessary prerequisites to derived relational responding. The final paper will present data on the relational ability of children of varying capabilities (typical to moderate autism). Assessment of derived relational responding will be evaluated through comparisons of functional relational networks. Implications for programming with children diagnosed with language deficits will be discussed.

Observing Responses as Related to the Foundation of Early Higher-Order Verbal Operants.
DOLLEEN-DAY KEOHANE (Columbia University Teachers College & CABAS), R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teachers College)
Abstract: Observing responses associated with pre-listener repertoires are the foundation of certain early higher-order verbal operants consisting of visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, and tactile modalities. They form the basis of early language acquisition as related to a hierarchy of verbal developmental components suggested by Skinner (1957; 1989) and expanded upon by others (Catania, Mathews, & Shimoff 1990; Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche 2001; Horne & Lowe 1996). Observing is intrinsic to producing and linked to the emergence of new verbal capabilities or cusps. We propose that the emergence of imitation through observation, conditioned reinforcement for looking at faces, listening to voices, looking at stimuli and print, and matching stimuli across the senses is at the root of early language acquisition across pre-listener, and visual-sensory modalities.
Precursors of Derived Relational Responding in Infancy.
MARTHA PELAEZ (Florida International University)
Abstract: The infants' ability to recognize and interpret emotions and cues from adults’ emotional expressions serves important knowledge, emotional, and communicative functions. Joint attention and social referencing appear to be critical features of these exchanges that help the child to gather information about her own thoughts, feelings and behavior in familiar and unfamiliar environments. Joint attention and social referencing also appear to be necessary precursors for the emergence of derived relational responding, which underpins much of higher cognition and language development, including perspective-taking. This presentation first addresses the establishment of infant prerequisite skills for the development of joint attention and social referencing and includes a range of behavioral interventions that appear to be effective in establishing these important capabilities and first frames. The author provides a discussion of the relationship between joint attention and social referencing and the formation of stimulus equivalence and related repertoires of relational frames. The latter part of the presentation contains information and advice to guide practitioners in the establishment of these important repertoires.
Assessment of Derived Relational Responding with Children of Varying Language Ability.
TIMOTHY M. WEIL (University of South Florida)
Abstract: The literature to date on Relational Frame Theory supports the role of derived relational responding in language ability. However, most of the studies have involved verbally-able subjects. It is only now that the experimental analysis of relational framing with developmentally disabled individuals is being pursued. Thus far, training of relational responding has shown promise with individuals with developmental disabilities. It is assumed that the establishment of simpler relational frames should permit more complex derived relational responding to occur. This study involves the identification of basic relational ability with children who range from typically developing to moderately autistic. Following training of arbitrarily applicable relations, an assessment of derived mutual and combinatorial entailed relations, which are mapped in a functional relational network allows for the identification of weak relational ability. Data will be discussed with respect to the particular relationships involved, the number of trials to acquisition for each relation, format of training trials and finally, the results of probe trials for derived responding of untrained relations. The relevance of programming language curriculum with a focus on derived relational responding will be considered.



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