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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #504
Teaching Skills to Children with Autism: Sometimes New is not Improved
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
W183b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Ashley Jones (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

A variety of barriers exist for children with autism spectrum disorders that can impede progress in typical learning settings. In this symposium, we will describe three procedures for addressing core symptoms associated with the the diagnosis of autism: poor eye contact, prompt dependency and behavioral rigidity. We found that for two of our interventions, the newest methods weren't always the best. In the first symposium, the authors tested an iPad application for teaching eye contact for three children with autism. When this approach did not work, differential reinforcement of eye contact did. In the second symposium two prompting strategies were tested with three children who had a history of being dependent on teacher prompts. Results indicated that for one type of task, both prompting strategies were equally effective, but for the other type of task, a prompting strategy that involved a differential observing response was more effective. In the third presentation, individuals with autism were taught to mand for missing objects and information by interrupting a sequence of behaviors (an interrupted behavior chain).

Keyword(s): autism, skills
Evaluating a Tablet Application and Differential Reinforcement to Increase Eye Contact in Children with Autism
TRICIA JEFFRIES (University of South Florida), Kimberly Crosland (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Studies have shown that increasing eye contact can be accomplished by using reinforcement, prompting, shaping, functional movement training, punishment, and self-monitoring. However, there is a lack of research that evaluates the use of technology as a way to increase eye contact. This study tested the effectiveness of a tablet application at increasing eye contact in children diagnosed with autism. The application requires the child to look at a picture of a person’s face and identify the number displayed in the person’s eyes in order to receive reinforcement. Data was collected immediately after training, one hour after training, and in the natural environment. The tablet application was not effective at increasing eye contact for any of the three participants. Once the tablet application was shown to be ineffective, the researcher used differential reinforcement to increase eye contact. All three participants showed an increase in eye contact once the differential reinforcement training was implemented.
Should Task and Prompt Dependency History Affect the Selection of Prompting Strategy with Students with Autism?
ASHLEY JONES (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: This study is a systematic replication of a procedure designed by Fisher, Kodak, and Moore (2007) in which they facilitated acquisition of a match-to-sample task using a differential observing response. Their procedure decreased prompt dependency when implementing a least-to-most prompting sequence with a differential observing response. In the current study, 3 children with autism were first screened to determine if they were prompt dependent. The participants were trained using a match-to-sample and receptive identification task. For the match-to-sample task, participants initially received reinforcers only for responding independently or after a verbal prompt, and in a later phase received reinforcers only for responding independently. For the receptive identification task, participants received reinforcers for correct responding to the verbal prompt as the task did not allow for independent responding. Results of the study indicated that independent responding increased during the match to sample task with both types of prompting strategies, but that the differential observing response strategy resulted in greater percentage correct for the receptive identification task. These results indicate that different prompting procedures may result in faster skill acquisition depending on the individual’s history of prompt dependency.
Evaluation of the Generalization Effects of Using an Interrupted Behavior Chain Procedure to Teach Mands
BLAIR JACOBSEN (University of South Florida), Kimberly Crosland (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Interrupted behavior chain procedures have been shown to be an effective way to teach individuals with autism to mand for missing objects and information concerning missing objects. However, there is a lack of research evaluating the use of interrupted behavior chain procedures to teach vocal mands for missing items to children with autism and the possible generalization effects thereof. This study evaluated the following: (a) the acquisition of vocal mands for missing items using interrupted behavior chain procedures, (b) participants’ generalization of learned mands to novel behavior chains when said chains were interrupted, and (c) the robustness of the generalization effects exhibited. Each participant exhibited some form of generalization to a novel chain, suggesting that interrupted behavior chains may be an efficient means to teach mands to children with autism. However, the extent to which a mand generalized across topographically distinct chains was different for each participant, suggesting that an individual’s verbal repertoire could be a factor influencing generalization.



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