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 #90
Empirical Development of an Intensive Incidental Teaching Approach to Early Autism Intervention
Friday, November 30, 2001
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
Photographs Hall
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Sharon T. Hynes (Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: This symposium will provide an overview of the empirical development of an incidental teaching approach to early intervention for children with autism. There will be an emphasis on the roots of incidental teaching in applied behavior analysis. The first paper will present the incidental teaching curriculum in place at the Walden Early Childhood Programs at Emory University, and the discussion will highlight both logistics of service delivery and primary intervention goals. The second paper will provide an overview of various intervention studies, in which single subject designs were used to evaluate the effectiveness of what became curriculum components. The third paper will report the methodology and outcome data for children with autism who entered intervention at Walden at earlier (i.e., Toddler) versus later (i.e., Preschool) ages. All data to be presented have met publishable standards of interobserver agreement (i.e., exceeding 80% reliability), with reliability calculated as total number of agreements divided by total number of agreements plus disagreement. Reliability data was collected for all subjects in each reported intervention condition, and both percentage agreement and kappa coefficients have been computed for the most recent studies. This combination of papers will inform the clinical audience of specific intervention strategies for practical application, while providing researchers an example of the evolution of a data-based intervention program.
Incidental Teaching Curriculum at the Walden Early Childhood Programs
SHARON T. HYNES (Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: This paper will provide an overview of the logistics of providing incidental teaching interventions at a level of intensity that will impact the social and language growth of young children with autism, as well as a review of specific intervention targets. Thus, there will be a brief description of the allocation of hours to various intervention settings (home versus school and community), number of children with and without autism, staffing, and mechanisms for ensuring the earliest possible referrals. Next, an overview of the major intervention goals addressed across a three-year intervention period will be presented, with discussion of relative priorities across time in treatment. The process of selecting goals will be buttressed with descriptive data on the differences between children with autism and same- aged typical children, which have been used to empirically establish benchmarks of intervention goals. For example, published data is available on levels of reciprocal peer interaction, levels of autistic behaviors, levels of engagement (toy and social), proximity to peers, and other social indices. Where applicable, the descriptive data will be presented in a format that emphasizes the need for intervention to begin at the earliest possible time, when the gap between the behavior of children with autism and their typical peers is smallest.
Component Analysis of an Incidental Teaching Curriculum
MICHAEL J. MORRIER (Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: Incidental teaching has evolved from a set of procedures designed to expand the language of nondisabled children to use as an intensive multifaceted intervention for children with autism. Early extensions of incidental teaching to children with autism will be briefly reviewed, with an emphasis on documented generalization benefits. Next, a series of studies on the topic of reinforcer potency will be examined, because the frequency and effectiveness of incidental teaching episodes turned out to be directly related to the efficiency with which teachers select and distribute reinforcers. Applications of incidental teaching to the promotion of social goals will also be reported, including discussions of peer tutoring, conversational skills, and cooperative free-play behavior. The majority of studies that will be highlighted have been evaluated with multiple baseline designs, with the exception of a few studies that employed reversal designs. This presentation will conclude with a brief discussion of issues involved in the packaging, and especially the personnel preparation, of a series of interventions that have been combined into a comprehensive curriculum.
The Relationship of Age of Intervention Onset and Intervention Outcome
GAIL G. MCGEE (Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: This paper will provide data that compares the social and language of children with autism who began early intervention as toddlers to the behavior of children who began intervention at approximately 4 years old, as well as to same-aged typical peers. Using a cross sequential design, the first major point of comparison was when children were 4 years old (i.e., Did intervention for toddlers result in higher levels of social and language skills than that displayed by children who received no systematic intervention at younger ages?). The second point of comparison was when children in both groups received intensive early intervention for one year (i.e., as a control for duration of intervention, children with autism were assessed independent of their chronological ages). Finally, the bottom line comparison reported will be the social and language outcomes for children with autism in both younger and older groups immediately prior to their entry to kindergarten (i.e., Did age of entry into intervention significantly impact the levels of social and language skills that children with autism can acquire prior to entry to kindergarten?). The emphasis will be on social and language measures obtained from direct and reliable observational systems, which tracked children's generalized behavior in a preschool classroom. Results will be discussed in terms of the relationship of hours of intervention to social and language outcomes, followed by a brief review of efforts to replicate the Walden incidental teaching curriculum in other programs.



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