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 #81
CE Offered: BACB
Teaching Children Who Do Not Demonstrate Repertories Critical for Academic Success
Sunday, May 29, 2016
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Roosevelt, Hyatt Regency, Bronze East
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)
Discussant: Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: Joseph T. Shane, B.A.
Abstract: Applied behavior analysis has been rigorously demonstrated to be an effective approach to treating children with autism. A large number of studies have shown significant improvements in participants who received Discrete Trial Training (DTT). However, studies with many participants consistently report finding a group of students who fail to make much progress with the traditional Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) treatment package. A concern, therefore, of everyone providing early intervention should be to determine why these children do not make adequate progress. It is possible that the standard EIBI treatment package assumes that learners have prerequisite skills that some children do not demonstrate. Even the most basic skills require some level of environmental awareness and attending to relevant stimuli. For example, simple visual discrimination is a prerequisite skill for conditional visual discrimination. Simple and conditional discrimination repertoires are critical components of many skills necessary for daily functioning, including communication, academic, and daily-living skills. It is also crucial to be able to identify effective reinforcers for each learner. This presentation consists of four studies, each of which addressed one of the following areas of concern for lower functioning students with autism: increasing vocalizations, teaching auditory and visual discriminations, and teaching imitation.
Keyword(s): Discrimination Training, Echoic Training, Imitation, Matching-to-Sample

Increasing Vocal Behavior and Establishing Echoic Stimulus Control in Children With Autism

JOSEPH T. SHANE (Western Michigan University), Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)

Many children with autism fail to demonstrate echoic behavior as early as their typically developing peers. Some also make very limited vocal sounds in general, remaining mostly mute aside from crying or engaging in stereotypy. Echoic skills demonstrate auditory discrimination and matching, and function as a beneficial, if not necessary, prerequisite for many other vocal-verbal skills. The purpose of this study was to develop an alternative echoic training procedure for primarily non-vocal children who did not demonstrate auditory discrimination in baseline. The intervention consisted initially of sessions in which any vocal sounds were reinforced. Then reinforcement schedules were manipulated to increase the variety of sounds each child made. This was followed by a simplified echoic protocol to establish auditory stimulus control, beginning with high-rate vocalizations. Echoic skills were tested prior to and throughout the intervention. This procedure was able to produce an echoic repertoire in two out of three participants.


Teaching Children With Autism Who Have Difficulty Mastering Auditory Discriminations

SARAH LICHTENBERGER (Western Michigan University), Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)

Simple and conditional visual and auditory discrimination repertoires are critical components of many skills necessary for daily functioning, including communication, academic, and daily-living skills (Green, 2001). When auditory discrimination is not under instructional stimulus control it can result in delayed acquisition of new skills and limit academic progress. The purpose of this study was to teach auditory discrimination to children with autism who had little-to-no progress on classroom procedures that required auditory discrimination, such as selecting an object from an array when given the name of the object as the instruction. Auditory discrimination will be taught starting with teaching a particular motor response in the presence of an environmental sound, then slowly introducing other sound and response pairings. The procedure will use a variety of teaching methods based on the learner's progress. Trial-and-error, shaping, and physical prompts will be used to aid in the acquisition of discrimination skills.


Simple and Conditional Visual Discrimination Training for Children With Autism

BLAIRE MICHELIN (Western Michigan University), Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)

Numerous everyday living skills rely on an individual having an extensive conditional discrimination repertoire. Some children with autism show difficulty in acquiring conditional discriminations, which can lead to delayed progress through classroom curricula. Green (2001) stated that it has been demonstrated that teaching simple visual discrimination tasks help cultivate the development of more complex visual discriminations. Even though some children with autism show difficulty in acquiring conditional discriminations, these individuals can acquire conditional discriminations after training on simple visual discriminations. The purpose of this study was to teach two individuals with autism simple and conditional visual discrimination tasks. Once the simple discrimination procedure was mastered, a conditional visual discrimination procedure was implemented. Both children had previously mastered classroom matching-to-sample procedures, but the skills failed to maintain. Simple and conditional visual discrimination were taught using trial-and-error and within-stimulus prompts.

Using Shaping to Establish Imitative Repertoires
JENNIFER LYNN MRLJAK (Western Michigan University), Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Some children with autism are unable to acquire imitation despite receiving applied behavior analysis therapy meant to teach that and other important repertoires. Many ABA programs utilize physical prompting hierarchies either as a component of the discriminative stimulus or the correction procedure after an error. But even after lengthy exposure to these teaching techniques some children still do not acquire imitative responses. This study evaluated the use of shaping as a method to establish imitative motor responses in children who were not demonstrating any imitative behaviors under the control of the model’s behavior. The primary differences from common teaching methods included reinforcing approximations to the target behavior and increasing the response requirements incrementally over time, in addition to increasing the duration of the model’s actions and fading that over time. Three participants acquired a variety of imitative responses.



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