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.


Fourth International Conference; Australia, 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #52
CE Offered: BACB
Descriptive and Experimental Analyses of Critical Components of EIBI for Children with ASDs
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
8:00 AM–9:20 AM
L2 Room 5
Area: AAB/VRB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: William H. Ahearn (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: William H. Ahearn, Ph.D.

This symposium will discuss critical components of effective early intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders. There will be four presentations of descriptive or experimental analyses of variables related to providing effective treatment. Doreen Granpeesheh will present two case studies of children with ASDs who have achieved typical or near-typical functioning through early intensive behavioral intervention. Rick Graff will discuss variables related to reinforcing behavior. Effective reinforcement is critically related to accurately identifying events that children prefer. Graff and colleagues compared a childs verbal report of their preferences to assessments that involved varying access to those events. They also surveyed parents of children with ASDs about their childs preferences and compared this to assessments the parents subsequently conducted with them. Bill Ahearn will then present analyses of delayed echolalia and appropriate vocal verbal behavior. An emphasis will be placed on the effects of tact training on appropriate and inappropriate vocal responses. He will then discuss social motivational deficits of children with autism and some of the difficulties these present for the child once they have learned to communicate. Several measures of social preference and joint attention-related behavior will be presented for typically developing children and children with autism.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention for Children with Autism: Case Studies of Optimal Outcome.
JONATHAN J. TARBOX (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Rachel S. F. Tarbox (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Mary Ann Cassell (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
Abstract: Green (2002) identified the need for detailed case studies of the effects of early intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism, at the level of the individual client. This presentation describes the course and outcome of such intervention for two young children who achieved optimal outcomes. Direct behavioral measures and results of standardized, age-normed assessment indicate substantial improvements in language, social behavior, and adaptive functioning, to near-typical or typical ranges, across domains. Keywords: early intensive behavioral intervention, outcomes, autism
Skill Acquisition in Individuals with Autism: The Importance of Accurate Identification of Reinforcers.
RICHARD B. GRAFF (New England Center for Children), Theresa Cerrone (New England Center for Children), Jennifer Keras (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: In order to maximize skill acquisition in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), effective reinforcers must be used. First, data will be presented suggesting that many teachers and clinicians working with individuals with ASD rely on self-report or caregiver opinion to identify potential reinforcers. Next, data will be presented demonstrating that some individuals with ASD cannot effectively communicate which items they prefer, and that caregiver opinion may not identify an individual’s most potent reinforcers. In Study 1, verbal and tangible preference assessments were compared in 4 preschoolers with ASD. In the tangible assessment, on each trial two stimuli were placed in front of the participant; in the verbal assessment, participants were asked, “Do you want x or y”. The two assessments identified the same most- and least-preferred item for only 2 of 4 participants, suggesting that self-report may not accurately identify preferred stimuli. In Study 2, parents of 8 children with autism were asked to rank their child’s most potent reinforcers. Next, parents conducted systematic preference assessments with their children. Results indicated that only 1 of 8 parents accurately predicted their child’s most preferred item. Results are discussed in terms of the need for accurate reinforcer identification for skill acquisition.
Vocal Stereotypy, Requesting, and Commenting: From Purely Vocal to Vocal Verbal Behavior.
WILLIAM H. AHEARN (New England Center for Children), Kathleen M. Clark (New England Center for Children), Jessica Masalsky (New England Center for Children), Sarah Kingery (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: This presentation will discuss both undesirable vocal behavior and desirable vocal verbal behavior of children with autism. Delayed and immediate echolalia are frequently encountered in this population. This presentation will describe assessment and treatment of delayed echolalia. First, methods for assessing, and functional hypotheses of, vocal stereotypy will be described. Systematic, experimental analyses imply that vocal stereotypy can serve various functions for the child with autism but the most common function of vocal stereotypy is the production of sensory stimulation. Along with the putative function of the vocal stereotypy for several children with autism, successful intervention strategies will be described. The primary focus will be on response interruption and redirection (RIRD). Next, forms of appropriate vocal verbal behavior that emerge during redirection will be described. Among the appropriate vocal verbal responses that have been observed are mands or requests. Mands are often the most common forms of vocal verbal behavior freely emitted by children with autism. However, specific training procedures can foster the development of tacts or comments. The procedures that produced prompted and spontaneous vocal verbal behavior will be analyzed. Finally, some implications of these investigations on the nature of autism spectrum disorders will be forwarded.
Social Motivational Deficits for Children with ASDs: Social Preference and Joint Attention Responding.
WILLIAM H. AHEARN (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: This presentation will discuss autism as a deficit in social functioning due to genetic inheritance and environmental experience. It is thought that autism is prenatally determined and is the product of abnormal brain growth regulation. Supporting research will be briefly reviewed. Aspects of communicative impairment, play, and other social skill deficits, considered characteristic of autism, will then be conceptually analyzed. This conceptual analysis will be based on descriptive and experimental analyses of behavior. Some of the data presented will include assessments of children’s preferences for social interaction, assessment of preference for social stimuli (e.g., hugs, praise, hi-fives) and descriptive analyses of joint attention responding and initiation. Several studies of play taught through video modeling will also be briefly discussed. The practical implications of these analyses will be outlined and a theory of abnormal development that leads to the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder will be suggested.



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