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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Paper Session #307
Theories of Autism
Monday, May 30, 2005
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Continental C (1st floor)
Area: AUT
Chair: Philip W. Drash (Autism Early Intervention & Prevention Center)
Exploratory Studies in the Prevention of Autism: An Analysis of Four Successful Cases
Domain: Theory
PHILIP W. DRASH (Autism Early Intervention & Prevention Center), Roger M. Tudor (Westfield State College)
Abstract: Based on our recently published analysis of autism as a contingency-shaped disorder of verbal behavior in The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, it appears that behavior analysis may now be in a position to answer one of the more challenging questions of autism professionals and parent advocates, "How can autism be prevented?" This presentation will analyze four successful cases in the prevention of autism. The subjects were young children who were originally at high risk for autism. All four children achieved complete recovery. In one case the intervention was minimal. In all cases the intervention was substantially less than required for intensive ABA in-home therapy. The children initially ranged in age from 17 months to 2 years, 10 months. Each case represents a different aspect of the continuum of prevention in autism.This paper will present the methods of intervention used and will discuss how the intervention procedures relate to a behavioral theory of the etiology and prevention of autism.
An Operant/Respondent Theory of Autism
Domain: Theory
SVEIN EIKESETH (Akershus University College)
Abstract: This paper examines the possibility that abnormal reinforcement and respondent mechanisms are responsible for some of the behaviors displayed by individuals with autism. Typically, sensory stimuli have a powerful effect on (the behaviors of) children with autism, as shown when they demonstrate hyper- or hypo sensitivity to sounds, smell, touch, pain, etc., or when they exhibit high rates of self-stimulatory behaviors such as gazing, rocking, spinning, lining objects, looking at videos, etc. It is suggested that some sensory stimuli have extreme reinforcing and eliciting properties whereas other sensory stimuli have extreme aversive properties. If so, individuals with autism may spend most of their time attempting to avoid or escape aversive sensory stimulation and to maximize access to reinforcing sensory stimuli. An organism who responds in such a way will exhibit high rates of self-stimulatory behaviors because of the sensory/perceptual reinforcement mechanism underlying such behaviors. Also, because the sensory/perceptual reinforcers are not mediated socially, but rather occur through automatic reinforcement, communication and social skills are virtually nonfunctional for the organism. This may explain the social and communicative deficits, which together with the display of high rates of stereotyped behavior define autism.
A Rationale for Addressing Core Strengths in Autism Intervention
Domain: Service Delivery
MARY D. SALMON (The Ohio State University), Diane M. Sainato (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: Presenting prior to age 3, autism is a neurobiological disorder considered to be one of the most profound disorders of childhood affecting the manner in which children learn to be social beings, to take care of themselves, and to participate in family and community events. Perhaps, nothing strikes more at the core of a family’s functioning than the birth of a child with a severe disability. For this reason, considerable multidisciplinary attention is focused on the development of effective intervention strategies that yield the most positive changes for the child with autism and for his family, across the lifespan. This presentation will briefly describe the core deficits and concomitant strengths of autism spectrum disorder in reference to the cognitive, social-communicative, and behavioral development of the child. Using empirically validated intervention strategies that build on the child’s existing repertoire of skills while embracing the behavioral assets typically encountered in individuals with autism, an argument for a shift to a strengths-based system of service delivery is proposed.



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