Verbal Behavior and the Emergence of Novel Responses in Children With Autism
Andresa De Souza (University of Missouri St. Louis)
Biography:Dr. Andresa De Souza is an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and currently serves as the Dissemination Coordinator for the Verbal Behavior – Special Interest Group (VB-SIG). She received a Master’s in Behavior Analysis and Therapy from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale under the supervision of Dr. Ruth Anne Rehfeldt and a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Nebraska Medical Center under the supervision of Dr. Wayne Fisher. She completed her Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Marcus Autism Center and Emory University in Atlanta, GA. During her studies, Dr. De Souza gained valuable experience in early-intervention applications for children with autism, the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior, and the autism diagnostic criteria. She has provided supervision for behavior analysts and worked as a consultant for international sites. Dr. De Souza published several peer-reviewed articles on applications of Skinner’s verbal behavior within the framework of an autism diagnosis, and currently serves on the editorial board of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior. Her research focuses on strategies for teaching verbal behavior, the arrangement of conditions that can facilitate the emergence of novel language and decrease restricted stimulus control, and caregiver training.
Abstract: Skinner (1957) developed a taxonomy of verbal behavior and referred to the different functional responses as verbal operants. Focused behavior interventions for children with autism and other developmental disabilities typically target each verbal operant individually and increase complexity as children expand their verbal repertoire (Sundberg & Partington, 1999). Considering the extent of a person’s verbal repertoire, it is unrealistic to believe that one can directly teach a child with communication and language delays all topographies of verbal behavior. Therefore, it is important not only to evaluate the effectiveness of verbal behavior interventions but also to identify strategies that can efficiently promote the acquisition of new responses. Research has shown that instructional conditions can be arranged to facilitate the emergence of novel, untrained verbal responses. This presentation will share some of the research about this topic and present strategies to promote the emergence of novel responses when programming verbal behavior instructions for children with autism.