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.


First International Conference; Italy, 2001

Event Details

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Symposium #42
Improving the Communicative Competence of Children with Autism
Thursday, November 29, 2001
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Little Theatre Hall
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Nicholas Kyparissos (Private Practice)
Discussant: Angeliki Gena (University of Athens)
Abstract: The social adjustment of youths with autism is affected predominantly by deficits in the social and communicative domains. This symposium addresses specifically such deficits and intervention strategies that may contribute to the improvement of communication skills. The first investigation looked for the development of contextual language after eighteen months of intensive home-based treatment for two boys and one girl, 3-6 years of age. The second investigation used scripts which were later faded to teach two adolescent boys and an adolescent girl, 15-19 years of age, to converse extensively on topics of their interest.
Intensive Behavior Intervention and Language Development for Three Children with Autism
ANNA PLESSA (University of Manchester), Anne Rushton (University of Manchester)
Abstract: This study focuses on three case studies of children with autism (two boys, one girl; 3-6 years) after eighteen months of intensive home-based treatment based on ABA principles and methodology developed by I., O., Lovaas. The main aim was to investigate how the above intervention facilitated their language development to be used in the appropriate content. A qualitative case-study methodology was adopted. Each individual ABA therapist and each mother participated in semi-structured interviews and completed a modified Portage language developmental checklist. Also the researcher conducted a three-hour session with each child to establish an overall picture of his/her language performance and to triangulate the data. Detailed reports written by educational psychologists before and during the intervention were also utilised. Lastly, each child was assessed using the British Picture Vocabulary Scale (BPVS) and the Expressive One- Word Picture Vocabulary Test. A reliable and substantive profile of each child language development pre- and post-treatment was therefore obtained by using multiple tools and informants. In depth analysis of the case studies shows that language development has improved in all three cases and that there was common agreement amongst therapists and mothers that the specific type of behavioural intervention was the determining factor for each child’s progress. Each case study will be presented separately to illustrate how language development was enhanced through the treatment and will be discussed according to its applications.
Increasing Contextual Conversational Exchanges Among Adolescent Peers with Autism
NICHOLAS KYPARISSOS (Private Practice), Claire L. Poulson (Queens College), Patricia J. Krantz (Princeton Child Development Institute), Lynn MacClannahan (Princeton Child Development Institute)
Abstract: The purpose of the present study was to teach conversational skills to adolescents with autism to enable them to participate in extended conversations with their peers. All participants were between 15 and 19 years of age diagnosed with autism. Three served as target students, two as confederate peers. The experimenter constructed 36 scripts, each providing the target student 10 opportunities to ask wh-questions embedded in the ongoing conversation. The confederate peers initiated and conducted four scripted conversations per session with each target student. A within-subject multiple-baseline design across six types of wh-questions was used to assess whether the systematic introduction and later fading of scripted exchanges would increase the number of contextual verbal exchanges of the target students. Training was across three types of questions (what, where, when) and generalization was assessed across three other types of wh-questions (who, why, how). Interobserver agreement measures were conducted on 100% of the study’s sessions. The average interobserver agreement score was 91% on the number and type of exchanges uttered across the 3 target students. All target students reached a level of 8 to 10 scripted exchanges per conversation. With fading, unscripted exchanges gradually increased while scripted exchanges decreased. All target students showed substantial generalization to the untrained scripts.



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