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

Previous Page


Symposium #92
CE Offered: BACB
Problem Solving and Speech Generating Devices to Teach Remembering and Conversation Skills to Individuals With ASD
Saturday, May 27, 2017
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3A
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Stephanie Phelan (ABACS; Simmons College)
Discussant: James E. Carr (Behavior Analyst Certification Board)
CE Instructor: Stephanie Phelan, M.S.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by deficits in communication and social skills. Despite a wealth of studies on establishing basic repertoires in these areas, there is limited research on teaching complex communication and social skills, such as talking about past events and determining if others are available for conversations. The first three papers in this symposium focused on teaching recalling past events to individuals with ASD. In the first paper, Walters et al. used prompting and fading to teach recalling past events to children with ASD who used speech generating devices to respond. In the second paper, Stine and Bourret taught the problem solving strategy of visual imagining to adolescents with ASD which increased recalling past events. In the third paper, Phelan et al. taught the problem solving strategies of visual imagining and self-questioning to children with ASD which increased recalling past events. In the fourth paper, Mann and Karsten taught self-questioning to college students with ASD which increased their conversational behaviors related to the availability and interest of conversation partners. The complex repertoires targeted in this symposium require an analysis of multiply controlled verbal behavior. The discussant will place the papers in context and recommend future directions.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): conversation skills, precurrent behavior, problem solving, remembering

Reporting Past Behavior in Children With ASD With the Use of a Speech Generating Device

DIANNA SHIPPEE WALTERS (Marcus Autism Center), Videsha Marya (Marcus Autism Center), Tom Cariveau (Marcus Autism Center), Taylor Thompson (Marcus Autism Center), Brittany Lee Bartlett (Marcus Autism Center), Allison Briskin (Marcus Autism Center), Shoma Sajan (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)

Reporting past behavior has been identified as an area of deficit for individuals with autism and plays a significant role in social communication due to its relatively high frequency in day-to-day interactions (e.g., a parent asks their child ?what did you do at school today?? or a friend asks ?what movie did you watch last night??). Previous research has shown that children with autism can learn to report past behavior following echoic prompts and prompt fading; however, all these participants communicated vocally, which is not fully representative of the broad spectrum of communication abilities in individuals with autism. Recently, the use of speech generating devices (SGD) is becoming more prevalent for non-vocal children, but additional research is needed on the use of SGDs. Thus, the purpose of the current study is to extend upon previous research to increase the accuracy in reporting past behavior with the use of a SGD in two children with autism (additional datasets are forthcoming). Participants reported past behavior using picture selection, text selection or typing on his or her SGD. Results found that participants reported past behavior with greater accuracy on end-of-day probes following our treatment procedure, and correct reporting generalized to caregivers.


Evaluation of a Visual Imagining Procedure to Teach Remembering to Adolescents With ASD

JULIE M. STINE (New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)

Many individuals with developmental disabilities cannot accurately remember past events; recall may be improved by learning to emit precurrent, or problem solving, behaviors to make correct responses more probable. Visual imagining is a problem solving strategy that involves seeing in the absence of a stimulus that was once seen (Skinner, 1974). Kisamore, Carr, and LeBlanc (2011) evaluated a visual imagining procedure on an intraverbal categorization task with four typically developing children; this procedure did not establish high rates of responding, but responding did increase when participants were prompted to use the strategy and taught a rule to reduce prompting. In the current study, a visual imagining procedure was evaluated with five adolescents (ages 12-15 years) with an autism spectrum disorder. Recall was evaluated before and after the training condition at no delay and at a delay of up to two hours. The visual imagining procedure increased recall for three of the five participants when no delay was imposed and, for two participants, increased recall at no delay and at untrained delays of up to two hours. For two participants, repeated exposure to stimuli and a correction procedure were required to improve recall.


The Effects of Visual Imagining and Self-Questioning on Recalling Past Events With Children With ASD

STEPHANIE PHELAN (ABACS; Simmons College), Judah B. Axe (Simmons College), Ashley Williams (ABACS; Simmons College)

Many individuals with autism do not reliably respond to questions about past events, such as telling a parent or teacher about a recent weekend trip or a visit to the zoo. Problem solving strategies, such as visual imagining and self-questioning, can assist in recalling past events. We evaluated these strategies with 3 children with autism using a multiple baseline across participants design. At the start of each session, the participants engaged in a novel activity with a behavior therapist, and the therapist took a picture of the activity. Approximately two hours later, a different therapist asked the participant to describe what he/she did. The intervention consisted of showing the participant the picture of the activity, telling him to close his eyes and see the activity, modeling asking and answering seven questions (e.g., Who was there? What is one thing that happened?), prompt fading, and reinforcement. All participants demonstrated an increase in the frequency of accurate about the activity with varying levels of assistance. Interobserver agreement and procedural integrity data were collected for nearly 100% of sessions across all participants and conditions (table attached). Future researchers should continue to evaluate effective problem solving strategies for recalling past events.


Self-Questioning to Teach Conversation Skills to Adults With ASD

CHARLOTTE MANN (University of St. Joseph), Amanda Karsten (Western New England University)

Higher quality conversation skills correspond to higher quality of life (e.g., independent living, employment) for adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Roessler, Broling, and Johnson, 1990). In this sequence of studies, we taught responses occasioned by conversation partner behavior as a means to improve the conversation skills of college students with ASD. In Study 1, participants learned to engage in self-questioning to determine if a peer or professor is available to converse. In Study 2, participants learned to engage in self-questioning to occasion correct responses across three functions of speaker disinterest. We assessed generalization of participant responses from the training context to conversations with trained confederates and untrained conversation partners (e.g., peers, professors). Finally, we collected peer ratings of the social validity of changes in conversation behavior as well as participants social validity ratings of study goals, procedures, and outcomes.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh