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 #80
CE Offered: BACB
Evaluating Aspects of Verbal Behavior Intervention for Children with Autism
Saturday, May 24, 2014
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
W184bc (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Anibal Gutierrez Jr. (Florida International University)
CE Instructor: Anibal Gutierrez Jr., Ph.D.

Although an overwhelming amount of effective treatments for children with autism are based on the principles of applied behavior analysis, there still exist many differences and variations in the methods and procedures used by practitioners to develop verbal behavior for children with autism. Current behavior analytic research in the field of autism continues to evaluate and advance verbal behavior intervention designed to improve the lives of individuals with the disorder. Research continues to evaluate the most effective strategies for presenting distracter stimuli during skill acquisition programs, the effect of sequence for training receptive and expressive skills, and the optimal number of intervention targets.

Keyword(s): autism, VB
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Discrete Trial Procedures for Teaching Receptive Discrimination to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
DESIREE ESPINAL (Florida International University), Anibal Gutierrez Jr. (Florida International University)
Abstract: Research has found that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show significant deficits in receptive language skills. One of the primary goals of applied behavior analytic intervention is to improve the communication skills of children with autism by teaching receptive discriminations. Both receptive discriminations and receptive language entail matching spoken words with corresponding objects, symbols (e.g., pictures or words), actions, people, and so on (Green, 2001). In order to develop receptive language skills, children with autism often undergo discrimination training within the context of discrete trial training. This training entails teaching the learner how to respond differentially to different stimuli (Green, 2001). It is through discrimination training that individuals with autism learn and develop language (Lovaas, 2003). The present study compares three procedures for teaching receptive discriminations: (1) simple/conditional (Procedure A), (2) conditional only (Procedure B), and (3) conditional discrimination of two target cards (Procedure C). Additionally, maintenance and generalization probes will be conducted approximately 1–month following the completion of training to evaluate the maintenance across time of discriminations taught using all three procedures and generalization across therapists and stimuli. This phase would indicate if one training procedure would result in better maintenance and generalization than another procedure. The present study is expected to contribute to the vast literature on what is the most efficient and effective way to teach receptive discrimination during discrete trial training to children with ASD. These findings are critical as research shows that receptive language skills are predictive of better outcomes and adaptive behaviors in the future.

The Sequence Effects of Two Types of Training on Verbal Behavior Acquisition Rates in Children with Autism

ALEJANDRO DIAZ (Florida International University  ), Anibal Gutierrez Jr. (Florida International University)

Language acquisition is typically described in two forms in the applied behavior analytic field. When a child responds to a stimulus event (SD) with a non-spoken response and reinforcement is socially mediated, the response is classified as receptive. When a child responds with a spoken response, the response is classified as expressive. Behavior curriculums designed to address communicative issues recommend that language acquisition programs begin with non-spoken (receptive) tasks followed by spoken (expressive) tasks. However, these recommendations have little support in the literature and some studies even indicate the reverse sequence would be more efficient. This study evaluated the sequence effects of training receptive verbal behavior prior to expressive and vice versa. Results were mixed with regard to overall efficiency but participants generalized in the expressive before receptive condition with almost no generalization occurring in receptive before expressive tasks. These findings suggest expressive before receptive training might be the preferred method more often than not with specific populations.

A Parametric Analysis of the Optimal Number of Targets Taught Concurrently
KATIE A. NICHOLSON (Florida Institute of Technology), Alison M. Betz (Florida Institute of Technology), Catalina Rey (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: In verbal behavior programs for children with autism, practitioners are encouraged to present multiple acquisition targets during instructional sessions. However, little guidance is given about the optimal number of tasks targeted in any given session. In this study, the researchers investigated whether the number of targets taught, 3 versus 10, would impact the effectiveness and the efficiency of the teaching procedures. An alternating treatments design was used to evaluate the effects of the number of tasks targeted on the cumulative number of tacts mastered across six weeks of instruction. Several efficiency measures were calculated, including an overall mastery rate, defined as the number of targets mastered per hour of instruction. As expected, both participants mastered more targets in the 10-at-a-time condition. The efficiency of the procedures was equal for one participant. However, one participant mastered more tacts per hour of instruction in the 3-at-a-time condition, even though he learned more total targets in the 10-at-a-time condition, suggesting that teaching fewer targets at a time may be more efficient for some learners.



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