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 #170
Accelerating Skill Acquisition Among People with Severe Disabilities Who Have Been Difficult to Teach
Sunday, May 28, 2006
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Regency VI
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Marsha B. Parsons (J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center)
Discussant: Dennis H. Reid (Carolina Behavior Analysis & Support Center, Ltd.)
Abstract: This symposium will present three studies on accelerating skill acquisition among people with severe disabilities who are difficult to teach (e.g., have histories of minimal progress on teaching programs). The first study evaluated preference-based teaching that involved incorporating learner preferences within the teaching process with learners with multiple disabilities. Results indicated that indices of unhappiness decreased for all 4 participating learners and that for 2 learners, enhanced skill acquisition accompanied reductions in unhappiness. The second study evaluated a modified intensive teaching protocol with 3 learners. The protocol, involving reduced distractions, increased teaching trials, and provision of preferred stimuli following teaching sessions, was accompanied by accelerated progress for each learner. The third study evaluated simulation training to enhance initial work performance of supported workers in a community job. Results indicated that initial job performance was enhanced significantly when workers received simulation training when beginning new work tasks. Overall results are discussed in light of social validity data indicating that lack of progress on teaching programs is a frequently occurring issue among personnel working with individuals with severe disabilities.
Effects of Preference-Based Teaching on Skill Acquisition.
CAROLYN W. GREEN (J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center), Dennis H. Reid (Carolina Behavior Analysis & Support Center, Ltd.)
Abstract: Preference-based teaching was evaluated with 4 individuals with severe multiple disabilities who historically were resistive to teaching programs as indicated by indices of unhappiness and resistance during teaching sessions. The preference-based teaching approach involved incorporating individual learner preferences within the teaching process by providing brief access to preferences before, during, and after teaching sessions. All 4 learners showed reduced indices of unhappiness and resistance when the preference-based teaching strategy was applied. Although the focus of the new teaching strategy was on reducing indices of unhappiness and resistance during teaching, an evaluation was also conducted regarding effects of preference-based teaching on learner skill acquisition. Results indicated that 2 learners showed increased skill acquisition during preference-based teaching relative to the traditional teaching approach (there were no detrimental effects of preference-based teaching on skill acquisition among the other 2 learners, who continued their previous rates of skill acquisition). These results are discussed in regard to making participation in teaching programs more preferred among learners as one potential means of enhancing skill acquisition.
Practical Applications of Intensive Teaching to Accelerate Skill Acquisition.
MARSHA B. PARSONS (J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center), Donna Towery (J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center), Peggy England (J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center), Dennis H. Reid (Carolina Behavior Analysis & Support Center, Ltd.)
Abstract: A modified intensive teaching program was evaluated with 3 adults with severe disabilities who were making minimal or no progress on an existing teaching program. Intensive teaching involved reducing environmental distractions, increasing the number of teaching sessions per week (approximately three-fold), and providing a highly preferred item or activity immediately following each teaching session. Results indicated that progress was accelerated during the intensive teaching program relative to when the existing, baseline teaching program was in effect. Results also indicated that the intensive teaching approach did not adversely impact the participants in terms of indices of unhappiness or problem behavior (which was a reported concern with earlier applications of intensive teaching). The importance of the accelerated progress was highlighted in light of a social validity survey indicating the majority of respondents who teach people with severe disabilities have encountered situations in which their learners participated in teaching programs for over one year without making progress.
Enhancing Work Performance of Adults with Autism Beginning Community Jobs Through Simulation Training.
DENNIS H. REID (Carolina Behavior Analysis & Support Center, Ltd.), Lindsey P. Lattimore (J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center), Marsha B. Parsons (J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center)
Abstract: An evaluation was conducted of the effects of simulation training on the work performance of supported workers with autism beginning new work tasks in a community job. Following brief baseline observations of the independent performance of 3 supported workers with a newly assigned job in a publishing and consulting agency, simulation training on the job skills was provided in multiple baseline fashion across the workers. Simulation training involved teaching the skills to perform the jobs (preparing training notebooks and folders) away from the worksite in a classroom-based, adult education program. To potentially expedite skill acquisition, the simulation training involved multiple training sessions within and across days away from the work site. Results indicated that once each worker obtained mastery criterion on the job skills during simulation training (which was accomplished within a maximum two-week period), the skills quickly generalized to the work site. These results suggest that initial job performance of adults with autism when beginning a new community job can be enhanced if they receive simulation training on the new job skills when they are not at the work site.



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