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 #19
CE Offered: BACB
Encouraging the Emergence of Advanced Language Skills: Contemporary Approaches to Teaching Complex Language Skills to Individuals with ASD
Saturday, May 24, 2014
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
W185d (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Ashley Shayter (Southern Illinois University)
CE Instructor: Jacob H. Daar, M.A.

Verbal Behavior approaches to language acquisition have primarily focused on the basic operants described by Skinner. Despite the utility of these conceptualizations in establishing functional communication skills in individuals with ASD and other language delays, difficulties in applying the concepts of mands, tacts, echoics, and intraverbals to more complex language have been observed. While Skinner's own analysis of verbal behavior extended beyond these four concepts, few training protocols include the more advanced conceptualizations included in Skinner's analysis. Furthermore, the now traditional Skinnerian approaches to verbal behavior therapy generally fail to include contemporary behavior analytic approaches to verbal behavior such as rule-governance and arbitrarily applicable relational responding. The present symposium seeks to extend current training and assessment trends beyond the basic verbal operants with investigations into contextually controlled relational classes to train responses to "WH" questions, to examine the utility of establishing perspective-taking frames, and to analyze the validity and reliability of assessments and training curriculums that incorporate Skinner's other verbal concepts. Specific emphasis will be placed on how these approaches affect treatment outcomes, such as generativity and flexibility, in children with ASD.

Keyword(s): autism, language, verbal behavior, Wh Questions

Establishing Social Skills in Autism through Derived Relational Responding

SAMANTHA BRODERICK (Student), Timothy M. Weil (University of South Florida), Jeffrey Oliver (University of South Florida)

Establishing social skills in Autism through perspective-taking is a pivotal behavioral repertoire essential for social interaction and basic reciprocity. These behavioral deficits are the hallmark of Autism Spectrum Disorder and can greatly impact the development of meaningful relationships. Mainstream cognitive developmental literature asserts that the social impairments characteristic of ASD result from an underlying inability to appreciate the viewpoint of others due to biological impairments; however, recent advancements in the behavioral analysis of language and cognition under the rubric of Relational Frame Theory have led to the development of a language based view of perspective-taking based on establishing deictic relational responding in typically developing children. Individuals with autism perform with less accuracy on this protocol, the scores of which correlate with some aspects of social functioning. This paper will present a functional contextual method of training perspective-taking as an alternative to the nativist model of Theory of Mind and discuss its implications for addressing a number of social behavioral deficits present in autism.


Who, What, and Where; A contextual approach to teaching "Wh" questions to children with ASD.

JACOB H. DAAR (Southern Illinois University ), Stephanie Negrelli (Southern Illinois University ), Angelina Perdikaris (Southern Illinois University ), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

Criticisms of the verbal behavior approach to language acquisition therapy have often centered on the narrow and non-generalized repertoires produced by such trainings. In particular, the difficulty with which children acquire more complex language skills, such as those necessary to respond to non-polar interrogative questions, i.e. "Wh" questions, is an indication that the common methods used to teach these skills does not adequately convey the necessary relational or contextual functions required to form generalized responding. The present paper will review deficits in the general verbal behavior therapy approach to teaching "Wh" questions, provide a conceptualization of responding to such questions from a contextual behavioral approach, and provide a paradigm for teaching generalized responding to interrogative questions that involves the application of contextually controlled equivalence classes of noun-word and community associations. Related treatment data gathered while working with children diagnosed with ASD will be presented. Implications for future research and limitations of this approach will be discussed.


On the Relationship between the PEAK Relational Training System and Standardized Measures of IQ

KYLE ROWSEY (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

The Promoting the Emergence of Advanced Knowledge Relational Training System (PEAK) is an assessment and curriculum protocol which utilizes behavior analytic principles to train academic, social, and daily living skills. The PEAK program is based on research in behavior analysis and includes technologies ranging from basic developmental skills to Skinner's Verbal Behavior to modern approaches to language such as Stimulus Equivalence and Relational Frame Theory. PEAK is designed to be used with children and adults with a wide variety of functional capabilities ranging from skills required to begin the learning process to advanced language and social skills. The current study sought to investigate the relationship between scores on the PEAK Assessment and the IQ scores of individuals with developmental disabilities. Participants were administered both the PEAK Assessment and IQ tests and results were compared. The results indicated a significant, positive correlation between scores on the PEAK Assessment and the IQ scores of participants.




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