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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #277
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advances in Skill Acquisition Interventions for Children With Developmental Disabilities
Sunday, May 28, 2017
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4A/B
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Laura L. Grow (California State University, Fresno)
Discussant: Amanda Karsten (Western New England University)
CE Instructor: Laura L. Grow, Ph.D.

The presenters of the symposium will discuss recent advances in skill acquisition interventions for children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities. The purpose of the first study was to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of three different antecedent stimuli presentations for teaching listener behavior (i.e., auditory-visual conditional discriminations). The purpose of the second study was to evaluate the efficiency of acquisition when the targets were taught in sets of three, four, six, and twelve. The purpose of the third study was to evaluate the acquisition of new skills when attending on the part of the child was and was not required during discrete trial training. The fourth study compared two different naturalistic language interventions (i.e., responsive-only intervention and a combined intervention) for increasing spontaneous and prompted communication. The results of the four studies will be discussed in terms of clinical implications and future research directions. The three studies highlight the importance of conducting comparisons of methodological variations for skill acquisition interventions.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): early intervention, language, skill acquisition, verbal behavior

An Evaluation of Stimulus Presentation Arrangements on Children's Acquisition of Listener Behavior

MARIA TURNER (University of British Columbia), Laura L. Grow (California State University, Fresno), Kaitlyn Edmonds (ABLE Developmental Clinic, Inc.)

Clinicians teach listener behavior within the context early intervention programs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Effective, evidence-based procedures are necessary to establish skills that children with ASD do not readily acquire through interactions with their caregivers and peers. The present study is a replication and extension of Petursdottir and Aguilar (2016) that compared the effectiveness and efficiency of three different antecedent stimuli presentations for teaching listener behavior using an adapted alternating treatments design. Participants were three children diagnosed with ASD, between the ages of 4- and 6-years old. The most efficient presentation varied across participants, and the results obtained with one efficiency measure did not always match the results obtained with other efficiency measures. Study results will be discussed and implications for clinical practice for the instruction of listener behavior will be addressed.

Comparison of Stimulus Set Size on the Efficiency of Skill Acquisition
BRITTANY LEBLANC (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Tiffany Kodak (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Brittany Benitez (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Terra Cliett (University of North Texas), Sophie Knutson (University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee), Dayna Costello (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Ella M Gorgan (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Gabriella Van Den Elzen (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)
Abstract: Trial-based instruction is commonly used to teach targeted skills to children with autism spectrum disorder. The literature supports the efficacy of various teaching procedures; however, the stimulus set size often varies (e.g., Jameson, 2007). The purpose of the current study was to compare the efficiency of varying stimulus set size on skill acquisition when teaching a terminal goal of 12 target stimuli. More specifically, we assessed how stimulus set size effects acquisition of 12 stimuli when those targets were taught in sets of three, four, six, and twelve stimuli. Results showed that although, the number of sessions to mastery were similar across all conditions, the number of exposures to mastery decreased as the number of stimuli in the training set increased for both participants. Furthermore, the target set size of 6 stimuli required the shortest session duration to mastery for both participants. The importance of empirical evaluations to compare instructional components will be discussed.

Evaluating the Effects of Attending on the Academic Performance of Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder

KATE E. FISKE (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University), Daniela Silva (Rutgers University)

Requiring eye contact from students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) before instruction is widely asserted as highly important by researchers (Greer & Ross; 2008; Lovaas, 1977). However, no research to date has evaluated the effects of this component of instruction on skill acquisition. The aim of this current study was to evaluate the effects that requiring student attending has on the skill acquisition of students with ASD. Utilizing an adapted alternating treatments design, this study compared the skill acquisition of three children diagnosed with ASD during discrete-trial instruction (DTI). Requiring eye contact was manipulated as a treatment integrity error during DTI in high-integrity, low-integrity, and control conditions. Results indicate that the low-integrity condition resulted in slower skill acquisition when compared to the high-integrity condition for both students. The findings of this current study extend the literature by providing empirical evidence for the importance of establishing attending prior to providing instruction in DTI. Implications for the impact of attending on skill acquisition will be discussed.

An Evaluation of a Continuum of Adult-Mediated Naturalistic Language Interventions
BRITTANY DEGNER (University of North Texas), Karen A. Toussaint (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Naturalistic interventions are well-established interventions designed to increase language in children with autism. Previous research suggests that specific naturalistic interventions produce differential outcomes for individuals dependent upon child characteristics. We first conducted an assessment of prerequisite skills that focused on sensitivity to social attention, language skills, and imitation skills with four children diagnosed with autism. Next, we used a reversal design to evaluate two language interventions that represent a continuum of adult-mediation: responsive-only intervention (CRI) and a combined intervention (CI). Both language interventions were designed to elicit child communication through adult modeling and expansions of child initiations; however, interventionists in the combined intervention also provided prompts for child non-target-level requests. The combined intervention procedure was most effective in increasing participants’ total language, and the greatest gain was found for target-level requests. Neither intervention consistently increased participant’s comments. Findings suggest that a contingency to use target-level language in order to obtain preferred items was necessary to increase language complexity, at least over a brief period of time, such as in the current evaluation. Implications for generalization of language gains are discussed.



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