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.


10th International Conference; Stockholm, Sweden; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #91
CE Offered: BACB
New Approaches to Communication and Social Speech for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, September 30, 2019
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 6, A2
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)
Discussant: Ruth M. DeBar (Caldwell University)
CE Instructor: Marjorie H. Charlop, Ph.D.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) display characteristic communication deficits that interfere not only with verbal behavior but with social interactions as well. Researchers continue with their endeavors to find creative solutions and novel approaches. The present symposium includes four studies in which innovative interventions have been designed to help children on the spectrum advance in their social communication. In the first presentation, a new form of script prompting, a picture-script intervention, was created to teach minimal verbalizers to speak in full sentences. In the second presentation, children with limited verbal skills were taught to approach and initiate a verbal request for play to a peer using the Multiple Incidental Teaching Sessions (MITS) procedure. Presentation 3 discusses the use of heritage language for bilingual children with ASD during parent presented Natural Language Paradigm (NLP) sessions. Finally, the last study presents results from an assessment of social language during indoor versus outdoor social skills groups. Taken together, this symposium provides new interventions and adaptions to facilitate the children’s social communication. Exciting prospects can be drawn as we look forward to continued success in teaching communication to children with autism spectrum disorder.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Communication, Social Speech, Verbal Behavior
Target Audience:

Target audience includes graduate students, BCBAs, BCaBAs, RBTs and other practitioners working with children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorder.


Increasing Speech via Picture Script With Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Caitlyn Gumaer (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College), Jenna Gilder (Claremont Graduate University), ALANNA DANTONA (Claremont Graduate University ), Benjamin R. Thomas (Claremont Graduate University), Brittany Nichole Bell (Claremont Graduate University)

Typically, communication interventions target nonverbal children and highly verbal children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but fewer focus on those in the middle who are considered “phrase speakers.” It may be possible to adjust the highly successful script programs that have been designed for verbal children for these phrase speakers (Charlop-Christy & Kelso, 2003). The present study used a multiple baseline design across participants to examine the effects of a picture-based script program with four school-aged, phrase speakers with ASD. Picture cards, similar to those used in PECS, were set up on a sentence strip, for the children to say. Each sentence contained verb pictures (to eat, to play), quantity pictures (numbers), size pictures (big, little), colors (red, orange, green), and nouns (candy, cars). Essentially, the child learned to say, “I want to play big blue cars” as opposed to “I want car.” The pictures were faded out until the child used only speech. Initial results indicate significant increases in mean length of utterances across all four participants. Results also indicate generalization to unfamiliar therapists in unfamiliar settings across three of the four participants. Findings from the current study may yield implications for communication interventions for phrase speakers with ASD.


Using Multiple Incidental Teaching Sessions to Increase Play Initiations for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

JENNA GILDER (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience severe speech delays and language deficits (Schreibman, 1988) that as a result can restrict their already limited social skills (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th edition). To address these concerns, the present study examined the use of Multiple Incidental Teaching Sessions (MITS) paired with an incremental time delay to teach appropriate verbal initiations for play to children with ASD. This study used a multiple baseline design across six participants with ASD. Each child was taught to ask their peer to play with them via MITS. In baseline, all six children did not consistently ask their peer to play. During intervention, all of the children learned quickly to independently ask their peers to play. Five of the six children generalized the skill to a new setting and to their sibling. Maintenance was also seen at 6-months. These finding provide support for the use of MITS in teaching social verbal initiations to children with ASD.


Assessing Bilingual Language Acquisition in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Using the Natural Language Paradigm

CAITLYN GUMAER (Claremont Graduate University), Nataly Lim (University of Texas at Austin), Alanna Dantona (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)

Little research has been done with bilingual children in their heritage language with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as practitioners and parents fear that exposing a child with ASD to more than one language will cause further delays in language development and other core deficit areas (Kremer-Sadlik, 2005). Yet recent research has found that exposure to and the use of heritage languages can be advantageous (Lim & Charlop, 2018). However, research has yet to explore how exposure to both one’s heritage language and English can impact a child with ASD’s language abilities and verbal behavior. The present study used a multiple baseline design across four parent-child dyads to assess bilingual language acquisition using the Natural Language Paradigm (NLP; Laski, Charlop & Schreibman, 1987; Spector & Charlop, 2018). Following free-play baseline sessions, four mothers were taught to implement NLP in both their heritage language (i.e., Spanish, Korean) and English. To control for treatment effects, NLP was counter-balanced across the four parent-child dyads. Upon the implementation of NLP, regardless of language condition, each child’s appropriate verbalizations increased during NLP treatment sessions and in free-play probe sessions. Findings from the current study may yield implications for language interventions for bilingual children with ASD.


CANCELED: Spontaneous Social and Language Behaviors of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder During Physical Play

Benjamin Thomas (Claremont Graduate University), MARJORIE CHARLOP (Claremont McKenna College)

Physical play is a natural context for children’s social and language development. Unfortunately, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are less likely to engage in physical play and are more socially isolated on playgrounds and at recess than peers without ASD. Although much of typically developing children's socializing occurs on playgrounds, the majority of behavioral social skills groups for children with ASD take place in classrooms or therapy settings, with limited generalization to natural play settings (Bellini, Peters, Brenner, & Hopf, 2007; Kasari & Locke, 2011). Therefore, this study used a multiple-baseline across-participants design to compare the effects of two intervention settings, physical play-based (e.g., playground games) and classroom-based (e.g., board games and collaborative arts & crafts activities), on several spontaneous social behaviors of six children with ASD. Results indicate that all children engaged in more spontaneous talking, eye contact, play, clowning, and happiness behavior, and displayed fewer inappropriate behaviors during physical play-based intervention sessions compared to baseline or the classroom-based sessions. The present findings suggest several implications for incorporating physical play into developmental language research and practice for children with ASD.




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