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 #457
CE Offered: BACB
Empirical Investigations and Conceptual Analyses of Verbal Behavior Training for Children with Autism
Monday, May 26, 2008
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
Continental A
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Michele D. Wallace (California State University, Los Angeles)
Discussant: Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University)
CE Instructor: Michele D. Wallace, Ph.D.

This symposium contains presentations on verbal behavior training for children with autism. The first paper will review approaches to mand training. The second paper will present data on a chaining procedure for increasing the complexity of echoics. The third paper will compare picture exchange to manual sign in the acquisition of mands. The symposium will be concluded by a discussion.

Using a Chaining Procedure to Increase Complexity of Echoics in Children with Autism.
SARAH M. NIEHOFF (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Jonathan J. Tarbox (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Barbara C. Aguilar (University of Nevada, Reno), Wendy Sanchez (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Wendy Jacobo (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
Abstract: Vocal imitation is classified as echoic behavior in Skinner’s taxonomy of verbal operants (1957). A well-established echoic repertoire can be useful for vocal language training in children with autism because it allows for frequent, low-effort use of modeling prompts. Several behavioral procedures have been empirically demonstrated to increase echoic behavior in children with autism but little research has been done on procedures for increasing complexity of existing echoic behavior. In this study, we evaluated the effectiveness of a chaining procedure for increasing the complexity of echoics in four children with autism. The procedure was effective and gains maintained after treatment was terminated in most cases.
Comparing Picture Exchange and Manual Signs for the Acquisition of Mands in Young Children with Autism.
MEGAN D. NOLLET (University of Nevada, Reno), Michele D. Wallace (California State University, Los Angeles), Maria T. Stevenson (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Language and communication skills are a vital part of an individual’s way of life. However, children with autism often display a delayed ability to acquire communication skills, if any are acquired at all. Skinner (1957) presented an analysis of verbal behavior and suggested that teaching each verbal operant (e.g., mands, tacts, and echoics) independently from each other is the ideal way to train language skills. Furthermore, because a mand specifies the desired reinforcer, it may be the ideal operant to focus on first during communication training. The current investigation taught participants to mand (i.e., request) for highly preferred items, using both picture icons and sign language, in an effort to determine which communication modality resulted in the quickest acquisition. Moreover, we also evaluated the modality each participant preferred to use in a natural setting when both modalities were available concurrently.
A Comprehensive Analysis of Mand Training.
MICHELE D. WALLACE (California State University, Los Angeles), Robert Haupt (California State University, Los Angeles)
Abstract: Given the high prevalence of speech and language disorders in children, a comprehensive analysis of how one can predict and control verbal behavior related to such delays is warranted. Thus, the intent of this article is to expand upon Skinner’s analysis of one specific form of verbal behavior, the mand, by synthesizing the current research and providing a detailed analysis (i.e., elucidating the variables) regarding the functional relations related to teaching individuals to mand. Several mand training approaches are reviewed including: single operant approaches (e.g., incidental teaching, choice making, and interrupted behavior chains) as well as facilitative operant approaches. Moreover, suggestions for effective mand training are provided along with avenues for future research.



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