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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #115
CE Offered: BACB
Some Current Research in the Application of the Verbal Behavior Approach to Teaching Children with Autism
Sunday, May 28, 2006
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Learning Center
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Vincent Joseph Carbone (Carbone Clinic)
CE Instructor: Vincent Joseph Carbone, Ph.D.

B. F. Skinner (1957) provided a conceptual tool for analyzing the acquisition of language or verbal behavior. His conceptual analysis has encouraged research to emprirically verify his claims of the benefit of a natural science approach to the understanding and development of verbal behavior. During the past 25 years a body of empirical literature has emerged which has begun to provide support for the basic concepts he outlined in his theoretical analysis. The purpose of this symposium is to present four(4) data based research papers which apply Skinners conceptual analysis of verbal behavior to three (3) important topics in the treatment of children with autism, e.g. teaching the mand repertoire, use of alternative communication methods to develop vocal responding and methods to strengthen the echoic repertoire. The first two (2) papers will present data regarding methods to bring the mand repertoire under the control of motivational variables and methods to increase the number of items in the environment that will serve as a form of reinforcement. In the third paper the author will present data to support the use of sign language and other independent variables that successfully increased the frequency and variety of speech sounds produced by children with limited vocal repertoires. The last paper will provide data comparing the effects of two (2) different methods of teaching the echoic repertoire. Final comments will be offered regarding the application of these experimental findings to treatment programs for children with autism.

Transferring Control for the Mand Repertoire to the Motivating Operation in Children with Autism.
EMILY J. SWEENEY (Carbone Clinic), Vincent Joseph Carbone (Carbone Clinic), Leigh Mariano O'Brien (Carbone Clinic), Gina Zecchin (Carbone Clinic), Marietta Nel Janecky (Carbone Clinic)
Abstract: The mand repertoire allows the speaker to effectively control the social environment. While the motivative operation is ultimately the controlling antecedent variable for the mand, clinical experience has demonstrated that many learners with autism fail to acquire mands exclusively under the control of the MO and a listener. The purpose of this study was to replicate the findings of previous studies related to mand training and to develop a modified time delay procedures in order transfer stimulus control of mands from the multiple control exerted by a discriminative stimulus such as presence of the item desired and motivation, to mands primarily under the control of MO and a listener. In addition, this study was designed to extend the previous findings to the treatment of children with autism and to develop procedures that could be easily implemented by teachers and instructors in educational settings.
Increasing the Mand Repertoire of Children with Autism Using the Transitive Establishing Operation.
DANIELLE DRAPER (Carbone Clinic), Vincent Joseph Carbone (Carbone Clinic), Emily J. Sweeney (Carbone Clinic), Margaret Murdoch Hagerty (Carbone Clinic), Zachary T. Ikkanda (Carbone Clinic)
Abstract: The transitive conditioned establishing operation (CEO) appears to be most relevant to the conditioning of stimuli as reinforcers (Sundberg, 2005) and may play an important role in teaching language to children with autism who fail to acquire verbal behavior through typical means. The transitive establishing operation converts neutral stimuli to conditional conditioned reinforcers and therefore evokes all responses that have in the past been strengthened by their delivery. By contriving this type of situation a teacher could condition items or activities in the environment as reinforcers and use these now established reinforcers to teach language disordered persons to mand for them. Moreover, by using the transitive EO to condition items as reinforcers in a chain of responses, language disordered children can be taught to mand for items primarily under the control of the EO and therefore free their responses from the additional control exerted by the presence of the item. The purpose of this study transitive EO study was the replicate previous finding that have identified the transitive EO as an independent variable relevant to the teaching of the mand and to verify the effects of the repertoire with children with autism.
Increasing Vocalizations of Children with Autism Using Sign Language and Mand Training.
VIVIAN A. ATTANASIO (Independent Consultant), Vincent Joseph Carbone (Carbone Clinic), Lisa Delaney (Hudson Valley Behavior Analysts, Inc.), Gina Zecchin (Carbone Clinic)
Abstract: Manual sign language has been shown to support the development of vocal verbal behavior in some individuals with autism and developmental disabilities (Mirenda & Erickson, 2000; Mirenda, 2003; Tincani, 2004). However, there is a subset of children with autism for whom sign language may not facilitate vocal production (Mirenda, 2003). In those cases it may be necessary to add other behavioral interventions to increase the development of vocal responding. Language training programs that manipulate motivative variables to teach manding have been shown to increase spontaneity (Shafer, 1994) and vocalizations (Charlop-Christy, Carpenter, LeBlanc & Kellett, 2002). In addition time delay procedures have also been effective in increasing vocal spontaneity and production when a vocal model was provided. Although demonstrated effective with participants who had a vocal repertoire, the time delay procedure has not been previously tested for its value in evoking novel vocal responses in children with autism who emitted very few vocalizations. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of sign mand training combined with a time delay, vocal prompt, and differential reinforcement procedure on the development of vocalizations in children with autism for whom sign language mand training alone had not produced vocal responding.
Teaching the Echoic Repertoire.
GINA ZECCHIN (Carbone Clinic), Vincent Joseph Carbone (Carbone Clinic), Emily J. Sweeney (Carbone Clinic)
Abstract: Vocal imitation training is the most commonly used method of improving articulation in children with deficient echoic repertoires. This technique involves presenting the final form of a targeted word and reinforcing the child’s increasingly closer approximations of the word. Difficulties arise, however, when children’s improvements in approximations cease and parity of the final form is never achieved. Alternative procedures to improving the echoic repertoire suggest, however, that by presenting successive approximations to the final form of the word and reinforcing parity of these approximations, word production may be better shaped. Therefore the purpose of this study was to compare the effects of two interventions designed to improve deficient echoic repertoire of children with autism. The interventions compared included traditional vocal imitation procedures in which the final form of the targeted words was presented and the Kaufman Speech Praxis Treatment Kit in which successive approximations to the final form of the targeted words was presented.



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