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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #485
CE Offered: BACB
Behaviour Analytic Research in a School for Children and Young Adults Diagnosed With Autism and a Learning Disability
Monday, May 25, 2020
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 206
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Mariann Szabo (Jigsaw CABAS School)
Discussant: Mariann Szabo (Jigsaw CABAS School)
CE Instructor: Mariann Szabo, M.Ed.

This symposium reviews four studies conducted in a school for children and young adults diagnosed with autism and a learning disability. Teachers within the school are encouraged to replicate research conducted in other settings (schools and clinics) and to evaluate the results of their work. They are encouraged to conduct basic research to determine the effectiveness of different tactics in the classroom and also advanced research in terms of inducing emergent behaviour. The first two studies in this symposium focused on rate of learning and observational learning. Comparisons were made between different stimuli used and teaching from peers versus teaching from teachers. The remaining two studies focused on generalised imitation and response variability during play. All studies required some level of systematic analysis of initial results with adaptations made to procedures in order to progress forwards. A school setting that encourages and reinforces research within its setting clearly results in positive outcomes for the student population.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Postgraduates, BCBAs, teachers


Peer Tutoring: A Comparison of the Rate of Tact Acquisition by Pupils Diagnosed With Autism When Taught by Peers or Teachers

ADRIANA BORZECKA (Jigsaw CABAS School), Kate Hewett (Jigsaw CABAS School)

The importance of high quality teaching is widely known; however many additional components will also affect the success criteria for a programme mastery; pupil’s motivation being one of them. There are many scientifically tested tactics to address it, such as increasing the ratio of reinforcement for a pupil, vicarious reinforcement or Premack Principle. However, despite pupils being so highly reinforced in ABA settings, sometimes implementation of an additional tactic such as peer tutoring can increase their motivation even further. This research tested the hypothesis that the pupils will meet objectives quicker when taught by peers than teachers due to the reinforcing aspects of peer interaction. Four participants diagnosed with autism took part in the study; the pupils were paired for the length of the research. The results showed that learning is highly individualised and many additional variables should be taken into consideration when analysing it, as peer tutoring resulted in the significant increase of tact acquisition for one pupil but not the other. After completion of the study, additional tests were conducted to determine if pupils acquired the cusp of Observational Learning.


The Effects of Discrimination Training of Known and Unknown Stimuli on the Acquisition of Observational Learning for Young People Diagnosed With Autism

BERNADETTE ALICE ALLCOCK (Jigsaw CABAS School), Grant Gautreaux (Nicholls State University)

This study evaluated the effects of discrimination training of known and unknown stimuli on the acquisition of observational learning for young people diagnosed with autism. Extending the research of DeQuinzio, Taylor and Tomasi (2018), the objective was to determine whether the results were generalisable to young adults by replicating the study. Four participants from an independent Comprehensive Application of Behavior Analysis to Schooling (CABAS?) school for children and young people diagnosed with autism were included in the study. The participants were aged between 16 and 17 years old. The study used a multiple baseline across participants design and included an initial pre-test to identify known and unknown stimuli for each participant. The dependent variable was the percentage of correct responses during tests sessions conducted 10-minutes post baseline, training and generalisation sessions. There were four trial types included in these sessions, known reinforced trials, known feedback trials, unknown reinforced trials and unknown feedback trials. The independent variable was the discrimination training; this consisted of teaching the participants to discriminate between reinforced responses of a confederate participant from the responses of a confederate participant that were followed by feedback in the presence of both known and unknown stimuli.


The Play Unit: Response Variability and Verbal Operants in Play Following Learn Unit Instruction

HAYLEY LOUISE LOCKE (Jigsaw CABAS School), Kate Hewett (Jigsaw CABAS School), Emma Hawkins (Jigsaw CABAS School)

It is common for children diagnosed with autism to exhibit limited pretend play skills due to delays in their social repertoire combined with the tendency to emit stereotypical and repetitive sequences. Neurotypical children learn to play and develop related verbal operants by watching and engaging with others. Children diagnosed with autism may have limited observational learning skills and if attending specialist settings may not access appropriate peer models. Previous research has evaluated video modelling, peer modelling and pivotal response training to increase play responses with varied degrees of success. The current study took place in a Comprehensive Application of Behavior Analysis to Schooling (CABAS®) setting with teaching primarily based on the learn unit; a three-term contingency used to teach skills across repertoires with generalisation and novel responding demonstrated as a result. A multiple probe design was used. Baseline observations suggested that although participants demonstrated some pretend play responses and related verbal operants, these were limited for all three participants. The study evaluated if the learn unit alone led to increased play responses and verbal operants or if a more intensive protocol was required. Implications of results are discussed with alternative approaches to further develop the impacts of the intervention highlighted.

Testing the Effects of Mirror Training on Generalized Imitation of Play Actions and Independent Play
MIRIAM DUDEK (Jigsaw CABAS School), Veronica Baroni (Jigsaw CABAS School)
Abstract: Although the mirror protocol is often used to induce generalized imitation as a developmental cusp, it is rarely used to teach play skills. Using delayed multiple baseline across participants design, this experiment implemented the mirror training protocol to test the emergence imitation of play actions and independent play in play settings. The participants were two males, 6 and 7 years old, both diagnosed with autism. The baseline data was collected prior to the intervention by testing for imitation of play actions by a model presenting 18 novel actions in play settings. Observational probe sessions were also collected prior to the intervention where data was collected on the number of intervals spent in independent play. Training sessions involved the mirror training where sets of actions were presented by a model in front of a mirror. The participants were taught to imitate the actions in blocks of 20 learn units. Probe sessions for imitation of novel actions were conducted following mastery of each training set. Post-intervention observational probes were also conducted after the sets of target actions were mastered. The results indicated the emergence of imitation of play actions and an increase of independent play in play settings.



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