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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #348
CE Offered: BACB
Current Research Promoting Maintenance and Generalization of Early Academic Skills with Children Diagnosed with Autism
Monday, May 25, 2009
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
North 124 B
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Nicholas L Weatherly (Stony Brook University)
Discussant: James E. Carr (Auburn University)
CE Instructor: Donald Stenhoff, Ph.D.
Abstract: The dissemination and application of maintenance and generalization procedures has always been a fundamental concern for behavior analysts and continues to be an area in need of further analysis. With the success of early behavioral intervention strategies for children diagnosed with developmental disabilities it is important to disseminate current research working to assess ways to better maintain and generalize these early academic skills. Continuing to evaluate the application and conceptual analysis of maintenance and generalization protocols will help identify methods scientifically proven to increase generalization and maintenance when working with individuals with developmental disabilities. This symposium will discuss three studies evaluating the maintenance and generalization of verbal behavior and other early academic skills with children diagnosed with autism. The first paper compares the effects of two maintenance-training methods when used to train early academic skills. The second paper examines generalization of mands for information. The third paper provides an assessment of cross-modal generalization.
A Comparison of Maintenance-Training Methods for Children Diagnosed with Autism
NICHOLAS L WEATHERLY (Stony Brook University), Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Properly seeing that skills taught maintain following the termination of treatment is a concern observed across all areas of applied behavior analysis. Smith (1999) noted the general lack of maintenance in many behavioral and non-behavioral programs as a “crucial omission” because skill acquisition during original training does not guarantee continuation of those behaviors after the training is terminated. In terms of early academic skill acquisition, a lack of skill maintenance would defeat the purpose of early intervention. The current study evaluated the effects of two different maintenance-training methods and one control condition on skill maintenance within a public-school classroom for children diagnosed with autism. The two training methods involved the use of either a continuous-reinforcement schedule or a thinned partial-reinforcement schedule during 20 overlearning training sessions following skill acquisition. The control condition did not involve any overlearning following skill acquisition. Three children were each taught two curricular programs, with each program involving the two training methods and the control condition using a multielement design. Results indicated that overlearning using a thinned partial-reinforcement schedule reliably produced greater maintenance across all participants, while there were no consistent differences between the overlearning training method that involved continuous reinforcement and the control condition.
Generalization of Specific and General Mands for Information
M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Institute), AMBER L. VALENTINO (The Marcus Autism Center), Danielle W. Bradley (Marcus Institute)
Abstract: Children with autism often have difficulty acquiring mand repertoires particularly more complex mands such as mands for information. In addition to being difficult to teach, the lack of generalization of mands for information to untaught scenarios is often a clinical concern. Some studies have demonstrated effective teaching procedures to teach mands for information through manipulation of establishing operations (Endicott & Higbee, 2007; Twardosz & Baer, 1973). While many of these procedures have proven effective, the research is limited regarding the maintenance and generalization of these skills. Some researchers evaluated generalization of taught mands across settings (Williams, Donley, & Keller, 2000), to a more naturalistic context (Secan, Egel & Tilley, 1989) and to untrained items (Sundberg, Loeb, Hale, & Eigenheer, 2002). The purpose of the present study was to examine generalization of mands for information. A multiple probe design was used to teach three children with autism four forms of mands for information. Results indicated that generalization occurred in at least two forms of the mand when a generic response was required, whereas when a specific response was required only one form resulted in generalization for one participant, with most forms requiring separate teaching.
Procedures to Promote Generalization Between Receptive Identification and Tacting: A More Efficient Teaching Strategy?
M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Institute), CAITLIN V HERZINGER (The Marcus Institute), Danielle W. Bradley (Marcus Institute), Andrew A Fulton (The Marcus Institute)
Abstract: In a review of the existing literature, Goldstein (1993) noted the need to better understand the relationships that exist between language modalities in order to better facilitate generalization across these modalities. Improved generalization is a key component of efficient teaching strategies. Many treatment guides for children with autism recommend first teaching receptive language skills before introducing related expressive skills; however, this suggestion is not clearly indicated by the current literature. The current study is an assessment of cross-modal generalization from receptive to tact and the reverse, similar to that of Wynn and Smith (2003). The purpose of the study was to assess whether responses generalize across modalities more efficiently based on which modality is taught first and to assess the effectiveness of a procedure to promote generalization when it did not occur. The procedure consisted of teaching receptive or tact targets using errorless prompting. Following mastery of the target in one modality, generalization probes in the other modality were conducted. If generalization across language modalities did not occur, an additional response requirement (ARR) was added to the teaching session and generalization probes were continued.



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