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 #436
CE Offered: BACB
Strategies for Identifying Effective Communication Systems Using Comparative and Component Analyses
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Columbus Hall KL, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer Croner (Melmark)
CE Instructor: Jennifer Croner, M.S.Ed.

Identifying effective communication systems is a top priority in service provision to individuals with developmental disabilities. It is routine for communication modalities to be selected based on a clinicians expertise or the learners history instead of on individually relevant characteristics that might influence success with the system. The current literature supports the use of a number of communication modalities for people with disabilities, but does not provide comparative studies or clinical assessment methods. These papers will present unique methods for identifying effective systems on an individual basis. Data will be presented on relative rates of acquisition, indices of preference, and evidence of discrimination across different modalities. In addition, a model for analyzing specific elements of an identified communication system that could enhance its utility will be discussed. The papers will present varied models to help make these decisions in data-based ways, and will highlight ways for effective collaboration across disciplines.

Keyword(s): Communication Modality
Determining Success in the Selection of a Communication Modality: Focusing on Acquisition, Preference, and Discrimination
SAMANTHA SMITH (Melmark), Jennifer Croner (Melmark), Samantha Russo (Melmark), Krystina Cassidy (Melmark), Jessica Woods (Melmark), Mary Jane Weiss (Melmark)
Abstract: Communication deficits are prevalent in at least fifty percent of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (Frankel, Leary, & Kilman, 1987). A variety of communication modalities are trialed with these children, including sign language, vocal output, speech output devices, and picture exchange. Although there are multiple modalities available, there is not a standard clinical practice to identify the best option for an individual to communicate. The present study is a three-part assessment to determine the most efficient and most preferred modality of communication for an individual, assessed using an alternating treatments design. The third phase of the assessment focused on discrimination within analogue and natural environments. The modalities assessed vary depending on the individual’s repertoire and learning history. The data suggest that there is not a singular modality that is effective for all students. However, each student should be evaluated on an individual basis to determine the most effective mode of communication.
Evaluating Acquisition and Spontaneous Use of Communicative Responses Across Modalities
IAN MELTON (Endicott College), Mary Jane Weiss (Endicott College)
Abstract: Communication deficits affect many individuals diagnosed with autism and other intellectual disabilities (APA, 2000). It is a hallmark deficit of autism spectrum disorders (DSM-5). Among these individuals, it has been estimated that nearly 50% of children with autism do not acquire functional speech (Frankel, Leary & Kilman, 1997). Learning to imitate adult vocalizations is an important skill many learners with autism and other developmental disabilities fail to acquire (Esch, Carr, Michael, 2005). For such individuals, it is essential to identify an alternative means for functional communication. Team members, including behavior analysts, speech and language pathologists, other multidisciplinary team members, and parents work diligently everyday to teach effective functional communication to individuals with autism (Koegel & Koegel, 1995; Hartas, 2004; Rogers & Dawson, 2010). The goal of the current research project was to evaluate for individual clients the most effective communication modality to target. Using an alternating treatments design, individuals were evaluated for sign, PECS, and vocal communication. Data on acquisition and spontaneous use will be presented.

Identifying a Communication System Utilizing a Component Analysis

Elizabeth Dayton (Melmark), AMANDA GILL (Melmark), Tracy Chin (Melmark), Claire Lovero (Melmark), Rebekah Lush (Melmark)

Carr and Durrand (1985) evaluated communication modalities for functional communication training (FCT) as a way to reduce and replace problem behavior for individuals with developmental disabilities. However, there is minimal empirical research evaluating the most appropriate mode of communication for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, especially in regard to discrimination across modalities. As discussed by Tiger, Hanley, and Bruzek (2008) the main areas of research examining the selection of a communication modality include: a) response effort; b) the social recognition of the response; and c) the rate of acquisition. The current study looked to expand on current research by examining the rate of acquisition and accuracy of discrimination. The modalities examined included a button press, picture exchange system, sign, vocal responding, and three-dimensional objects. This study also further examined an individuals communication system by manipulating possible variables that influenced his accuracy of communication. These variables included pre-exposure, board positioning, and icon placement.




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