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 #25
CE Offered: BACB
Strategies for Developing Spontaneous and Social Language in Individuals With Autism
Saturday, May 23, 2020
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon H
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Eric Rozenblat (Institute for Educational Achievement)
Discussant: Kevin J. Brothers (Somerset Hills Learning Institute)
CE Instructor: Kevin J. Brothers, Ph.D.

Our field continues to refine and advance methods of teaching individuals with autism critical language skills that allow them to more fully interact with others in their surroundings. The goal of research within this area is often to produce spontaneous language that allows individuals with autism to have more successful social experiences. The papers in this symposium will address teaching language skills to individuals with autism with respect to question-asking skills and simple social responses for an individual also diagnosed with catatonia. Through the use of single-subject experimental designs, the researchers have investigated strategies of teaching language responses to students with autism and demonstrated the effective use of such strategies to increase appropriate spontaneous language responses in the presence of target discriminative stimuli. In addition, each presenter will define methods by which the generalization of these important verbal skills was targeted and the extent to which these responses were displayed under non-training conditions. Finally, each presenter will detail the acquisition and generalization of these responses through a learning-based account and comment on the importance of these skills in advancing the language repertoires of individuals with autism.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): audio scripts, catatonia, question asking, social language
Target Audience:

Professionals in behavior analysis, education, and clinicians serving individuals with autism who hold certification in behavior analysis or BA, MA, or Ph.D level degrees.

Learning Objectives: 1. Participants will learn how to use scripts to teach question asking skills, with an emphasis on requesting assistance. 2. Participants will learn how to identify the relevant conditions under which language should be emitted and to program for generalized behavior change. 3. Participants will learn how to effectively use prompts in dually diagnosed individuals with autism and catatonia to bring verbal responses under the control of relevant environmental stimuli.

Using Audio Scripts, Interrupted Chain Procedure and Sufficient Exemplar Training to Teach Children With Autism to Ask for Help

MARTA WOJCIK (Institute for Child Development, Gdansk), Svein Eikeseth (Oslo Metropolitan University ), Sigmund Eldevik (Oslo Metropolitan University), Anna Budzinska (Institute for Child Development in Gdansk)

Children with autism exhibit severe deficits in social communication and social interactions (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Studies show that even if children acquire a verbal repertoire they rarely engage in spontaneous speech (Krantz, Rams Land, & McClannahan, 1989; Stevenson, Krantz, & McClannahan, 2000). Question-asking skills is a key aspect of spontaneous language that typically is absent or delayed in individuals with autism (Hauck, Fein, Waterhouse, & Feinstein, 1995; Stone & Caro-Martinez, 1990), and a particular form of question asking that is of vital importance is asking for help. During our presentation we will show the use of audio scripts, an interrupting chain procedure and sufficient exemplar training in teaching preschool aged children with autism to ask for help. Children were taught to request help across three different skill domains (play, self-help, and academic tasks). We employed a nonconcurrent multiple-baseline design across three participants. The intervention was effective for all participants. All three participants learned to ask for help when appropriate, and to refrain from asking for help when help was not needed. Furthermore, asking for help behavior generalized to untrained situations and to new people. Asking for help behaviors were also maintained at follow-up, conducted three months after intervention.


Increasing Verbal Behavior in a Young Adolescent Girl With Catatonia and Autism Spectrum Disorder

ALISON WICHNICK-GILLIS (The Graduate Center/CUNY, New York Child Learning Institute), Susan M. Vener (New York Child Learning Institute), Claire L. Poulson (Queens College/CUNY)

Catatonia is a syndrome characterized as a cluster of difficulties in verbal and motor behavior that interfere with everyday function. The following is an experimental analysis of the effects of a prompt-fading behavioral treatment package on the verbal behavior of an adolescent girl with autism spectrum disorder and catatonia. Data were collected on the verbal production of three target responses previously in the participant’s repertoire: “Hi;” “That sounds great;” and “Excuse me.” Following the presentation of an opportunity to respond (e.g., following an instructor’s greeting), the instructor provided full manual guidance, in conjunction with a verbal model when needed, to assist the participant in emitting the verbal response. Over time, manual prompts were replaced with graduated guidance, spatial fading and shadowing. A functional relation between prompt-fading and verbal behavior was demonstrated by the systematic increase in the percentage of verbal responses displayed following the introduction of prompt fading across three verbal responses. As manual prompts were systematically faded, independent verbal responding emerged. Responding was displayed across unfamiliar adults and maintained over a 12-month period. Future researchers may want to investigate the effectiveness of prompt fading to reestablish verbal behavior across different individuals with similar/less similar profiles.




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