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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #276
CE Offered: BACB
Advancements in Teaching Language Skills to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, May 30, 2016
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Columbus Hall KL, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Daniel R. Mitteer (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Discussant: April N. Kisamore (Caldwell University)
CE Instructor: April N. Kisamore, Ph.D.

In early intensive behavioral interventions for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), teaching language skills (verbal operants) is a fundamental educational goal (Love, Carr, Almason, & Petursdottir, 2009). The outcomes from comparisons of teaching strategies may identify how to teach these skills more effectively and efficiently and create more preferred instructional contexts. This symposium presents advancements in how best to teach language skills (e.g., intraverbals, tacts) to children with an ASD. Majdalany et al. compared the efficacy of tact prompts and textual prompts during intraverbal teaching. Mitteer et al. evaluated the effects of including or omitting background stimuli when teaching expressive-identification of images, with an emphasis on efficiency and stimulus generalization to novel images, videos, and figurines. Lorca et al. taught children to engage in reciprocal conversational skills (e.g., asking a question following a partners statement) and assessed the emergence of intraverbal responding with novel topics. Haygood and Pence compared the efficacy, efficiency, and childrens preference for least-to-most, most-to-least with a delay, and progressive-time delay prompting hierarchies during discrete-trial training, and analyzed the correspondence between efficiency and preference. Taken together, recommendations based on these studies may assist clinicians in selecting teaching procedures that are more efficient, efficacious, and preferred.

Keyword(s): early intervention, intraverbal, prompting strategies, tact

A Comparison of Textual and Tact Prompts on the Acquisition of Intraverbal Behavior in Children With Autism

BROOKE TOMPKINS (Florida Institute of Technology), Randi Margarian (Florida Institute of Technology), Lina M. Majdalany (Florida Institute of Technology)

Prompts are supplemental stimuli used to facilitate the development of novel skills. Textual prompts are written cues, while tact prompts are pictorial cues. Both textual and tact prompting techniques have been shown to be effective in the acquisition, maintenance, and generalization of intraverbal behavior in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. However, the direct comparison of the textual and tact prompts has yet to be conducted. In the current study, we taught one young child to engage in intraverbal behavior using tact and textual prompting techniques. Tact prompts resulted in quicker acquisition and fewer trials to criterion when compared to textual prompts. Responding maintained one week later in both textual and tact conditions. The participant scored 100% on generalization probes across people in both conditions. The participant scored 80% on generalization probes across stimuli in the tact condition, and 100% on the generalization probes across stimuli in the text condition.


Effects of Background Stimuli on Acquisition and Generalization of Tacts Across Pictures, Videos, and Figurines

DANIEL R. MITTEER (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Kevin C. Luczynski (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Victoria Smith (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Teaching children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to name (tact) images is a common skill area. Teaching with backgrounds may increase the difficulty of discriminating the target stimulus and may lead to faulty stimulus control (e.g., background images evoke the target response). However, including backgrounds may enhance stimulus generalization to additional exemplars of the category (stimulus class) with backgrounds. To date, no study has examined the effects of including or omitting backgrounds. We used an adapted alternating treatments design to evaluate the effects of teaching with and without backgrounds on acquisition and stimulus generalization to novel images, videos, and figurines. Across four participants, ages 3-4 with an ASD, we observed minimal differences in the number of sessions to mastery when teaching with backgrounds (M = 6) or without backgrounds (M = 4). Stimulus generalization occurred more often in the condition taught with backgrounds (33%) than without backgrounds (0%). When differential reinforcement was programmed during generalization tests, mastery was observed in 64% of targets taught with backgrounds and in 50% of targets taught without backgrounds. Teaching with backgrounds may produce slower acquisition of pictures but enhance generalization to images and videos exemplars containing backgrounds as compared to teaching without backgrounds .


The Emergence of Generative Intraverbal Responding in Children With Autism

JOHANNA F. LORCA (Center for Behavioral Sciences, Inc.), Hoang T. Nguyen (Center for Behavioral Sciences, Inc.), Junelyn Lazo (Center for Behavioral Sciences, Inc.)

The purpose of the current study was to investigate if novel conversation responses would generate after teaching specific conversational styles and minimal components of intraverbal responses to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Intraverbal responses involved making general statements, asking questions, and developing conversation styles. Statement/Question and Question/Statement style of conversation were taught to three children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The participants in the study ranged in age from 6 to 9 years. During the statement/question and question/statement, the participants discussed topics of their own interest. Then specific topics of conversation were used in these conversation styles. Finally, they were taught to ask about the interests of various conversation partners. In the generalization testing phase, the participants were able to begin conversations with others using similar conversational styles, but with novel topics (topics of various conversation partners interests) and components of each topic. Results showed that novel intraverbal responses can generate after training of minimal number of discrete stimulus-responses relationships.

Evaluation of the Efficiency of and Preference for Three Prompting Procedures
SARAH BROOKE HAYGOOD (Auburn University), Sacha T. Pence (Auburn University)
Abstract: Discrete-trial teaching (DTT) is frequently used to teach new skills to individuals with developmental disabilities and can include a variety of prompting procedures. Currently, little research exists to help guide best-practice recommendations for practitioners. During Experiment 1, least-to-most (LTM), most-to-least with a delay (MTL-D), and progressive-time delay (PTD) prompting hierarchies were compared. Acquisition during DTT was evaluated with seven preschool children with a developmental disability. Least-to-most prompting was most effective for 2 participants, MTL-D was most effective for 2 participants, and PTD was most effective for 1 participant. In general, the most efficient prompting hierarchy was idiosyncratic across participants. During Experiment 2, a modified concurrent-chains preference assessment was used to evaluate participants’ preferences for the different prompting procedures. Four of five participants preferred the prompting strategy that was most efficient in Experiment 1. These data replicate previous studies suggesting that there are individual differences in prompting effectiveness and efficiency. Similar to previous research, LTM was consistently associated with the highest number of errors across participants.



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