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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #66
CE Offered: BACB
Using the Science of Applied Behavior Analysis to Develop Methodologies to Improve Language and Social Skills in Children with Autism
Saturday, May 26, 2007
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
Elizabeth F
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jane S. Howard (California State University, Stanislaus)
CE Instructor: Jane S. Howard, Ph.D.

This symposium will present four studies involving attending, social responsiveness, and/or advanced language skills in children with autism. Methods for assessing and then addressing difficulties in acquiring advanced language response forms, responding to sophisticated mands by the speaker, as well as improving responsiveness to common environmental stimuli are discussed. Implications of these deficits and a rationale for these treatment protocols as they relate to improving the functioning for children with autism will be presented. This information may suggest methods which should assist BCBAs who are working with children and young adults in these skill areas.

Developing Complex Language: Teaching Syntax to Children with Autism.
JENNY FISCHER (The Kendall School), Jane S. Howard (California State University, Stanislaus), Coleen Sparkman (Therapeutic PATHWAYS, Inc.)
Abstract: Behavior analytic research and early intensive behavioral treatment programs have identified methods to improve language skills in individuals with autism. However, research to increase length of utterance and bring verbalizations under the subtle stimulus control which correspond to syntax is limited. The Fokes Sentence Builder is a program designed for use by speech and language pathologists to teach sentence structure to language delayed children. The effectiveness of the Fokes Sentence Builder, with modifications to enhance stimulus discrimination and generalization, was studied. Preschool-aged children with autism in an intensive behavioral treatment program were taught two target sentence structures. The children were successfully trained to produce the target sentences using the Fokes cards, and generalization of the target sentence structures to novel pictures was demonstrated.
Teaching Children with Autism to Respond to "Hidden Mands" during Conversation.
BRIDGET DENEAU (The Kendall School), Christina Sutyak (The Kendall School), Jane S. Howard (California State University, Stanislaus)
Abstract: Even those individuals with autism who acquire age appropriate vocabulary may not become effective listeners or communicative partners. While research has indicated the potential utility of Skinner's elementary operants to improve language skills in children with autism, there is an absence of research on more complex forms such as “hidden mands" or "impure tacts". A behavior skills training program was designed to teach young children with autism to make responses to “hidden mands" during conversations. Results from suggest that Skinner’s proposed "hidden mands" may be distinct type of functional communication that can be taught to children with autism.
Measurement of Responses to Auditory Environmental Events of Children with Autism and Those without Developmental Delay.
CYNTHIA L. ROSS-OWENS (The Kendall School), Devon M. Cavagnaro (The Kendall School), Jane S. Howard (California State University, Stanislaus), Brittany Leah Sheets (The Kendall School)
Abstract: Clinicians and researchers have noted that children with autism exhibit lower levels of attending to auditory social stimuli and other stimuli which often evoke joint attention in children without disability (e.g., MacDonald et al, 2006). A protocol designed to measure attention by children to common environmental noises was developed in order to generate a comparison of response profiles to such stimuli by children diagnosed with autism as well as those without developmental delay. Implications of these differences will be discussed.
Improving the Responsiveness of Children with Autism to Auditory Environmental Sounds
JANE S. HOWARD (California State University, Stanislaus), Mette Madsen (The Kendall School), Coleen Sparkman (Therapeutic PATHWAYS, Inc.)
Abstract: Both clinicians and researchers have noted that children with autism exhibit lower patterns of attending to social stimuli (e.g., Dawson et al, 1998). This lack of responsiveness likely limits a child’s interactions with others, as well as precluding other types of learning opportunities. A preliminary treatment protocol designed to improve attending to such events will be desribed in the context of a single subject nonconcurrent multiple baseline across with preschool- and kindergarten aged children. Preimlinary data indicate maintenance and generalization of these responses to untrained situations and stimuli.



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