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 #505
CE Offered: BACB
Establishing Social Initiation: There Is More than One Way to Start a Conversation
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Continental C
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joseph M. Vedora (BEACON Services)
Discussant: Gordon A. DeFalco (Evergreen Center)
CE Instructor: Robert K. Ross, M.S.

The initiation of social interaction is a critical skill for developing relationships and successful community participation. The failure to easily acquire or readily demonstrate this skill or impairments in development of such skills is one of the diagnostic characteristics of children with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This symposium will review three empirical studies designed to promote social initiation and sustained interaction in public school classrooms and residential settings. Each study used a different procedure to support the establishment of initiation and maintain social interactions. A common component of each of the three studies was the use of modeling procedures to establish initiation and an evaluation of the effects on peers. Additionally, the data from the three studies suggest that the acquisition of social behavior is not necessarily correlated with demonstration of social skill.

Use of a Conversation Box to Increase Social/Verbal Interaction in Children with Autism.
AMY MUEHLBERGER (BEACON Services), Amie Heagle (BEACON Services), Ann Filer (BEACON Services), Robert K. Ross (BEACON Services)
Abstract: The spontaneous production of social language is a challenge for many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Ricks & Wing, 1975). Visual supports have been shown to facilitate language production in children with ASD (Sarokoff, Taylor, & Poulson, 2001). The current study assessed the effects of a conversation box to support production of social language, as well as, responses (question asking and answering) to the social bids in 2 children with ASD. When criterion for learning was met, generalization of social verbal interaction was assessed with untrained topics of conversation, novel peers, and other settings. The results indicated that both prompted and unprompted speech increased, as well as, generalized to novel contexts when specific strategies were used. This study supports the use of an easily implemented strategy that proved to be a rapid and effective procedure for teaching complex verbal skills, such as conversational speech.
Improving Social Skills for Children with PDD and Their Typical Peers in a Reverse Integration Preschool Setting.
KIM KLEMEK (BEACON Services), Christina Stuart (Weymouth Public Schools), Joseph M. Vedora (BEACON Services)
Abstract: A common approach for improving social skills for children with PDD is to increase their opportunities to interact with typically developing peers. In public schools, this frequently entails integrating children with PDD into general education settings or including typical peers in special education settings. In the present study, several interventions designed to promote socials skills in three children with PDD were evaluated. During Experiment 1, a reversal design was used to compare the effects of the presence of typical peers in the classroom with and without contingent reinforcement. In Experiment 2, a multiple baseline design was used to evaluate the effects of a social skills training program for children with PDD. Results of Experiment 1 suggested that reinforcement alone was not sufficient to improve social skills for the students with PDD. Results of Experiment 2 indicated that the treatment package resulted in increased initiating and responding by the children with PDD. Implications for providing social skills training for children with PDD within an integrated setting are discussed.
The Effectiveness of PECS versus Vocal Mand Training to Increase Functional Communication Initiations.
AMBER LAVALLEE (Evergreen Center)
Abstract: In this study students were taught to request preferred items using one of two communication procedures. The two procedures taught were the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and vocal mand training. This study first compared the acquisition rate of PECS and vocal mand training, then it assessed whether training in the use of PECS or vocal mand training would result in more spontaneous vocal responses (initiations) in non-training conditions subsequent to formal instruction. Three students participated, two were diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder and one student diagnosed with autism. All three were enrolled in a residential school for students with developmental disabilities. Participants were taught to mand for two preferred items using PECS and to mand for the remaining two preferred items using vocal mand training. Spontaneous speech probes were conducted weekly to assess which communication modality resulted in more spontaneous vocal responses. Results showed that all participants acquired Phase one of PECS with 80% independence within six sessions and did not acquire vocal manding. Increases in vocal responses were minimal, but higher for items trained with PECS.



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