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 #273
CE Offered: BACB
Reviews and Research on Perspective Taking and Problem Solving With Children With Autism and Related Disabilities
Monday, May 30, 2016
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Michigan ABC, Hyatt Regency, Bronze East
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Judah B. Axe (Simmons College)
CE Instructor: Judah B. Axe, Ph.D.

There is an abundance of research on behavior analytic strategies for teaching simple skills to children with autism and related disabilities. These relatively simple skills include manding, tacting, imitating, matching, sorting, and tooth brushing. There is less research on teaching more complex skills such as engaging in conversation, initiating joint attention, and solving difficult math problems. The analysis of verbal behavior has much to contribute to the analysis of complex repertoires. This symposium centers on two complex repertoires often limited in children with autism and related disabilities: perspective taking and problem solving. The first paper, by Taylor-Santa and colleagues, is a theoretical paper and literature review paper on perspective taking. The authors offer an account of the controlling variables of perspective taking and suggest problem solving is involved in the repertoire. The second paper by Phelan and colleagues offers a conceptual analysis of problem solving and reviews applied studies examining the teaching of problem solving skills to establish complex social, communicative, and academic skills. The third paper is a study by Frampton and colleagues who taught two children with autism the problem solving strategy of sorting, sequencing, and tacting pictures to establish explanations for how to complete familiar activities.

Keyword(s): perspective taking, problem solving
Perspective Taking: A Functional Account and Review of the Literature
CATHERINE TAYLOR-SANTA (Caldwell University), April N. Kisamore (Caldwell University), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University)
Abstract: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by deficits in social interactions including more complex social behavior such as perspective taking (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Individuals with ASD might continue to show deficits in perspective taking as they age due to insufficient learning opportunities and insubstantial teaching methods. It is possible that programs designed to teach perspective taking fail to teach some component behaviors needed for success (e.g., listener behavior). This failure could be attributed to a lack of a complete account of the behaviors involved in perspective taking as well as their controlling variables. The purpose of this paper is to provide a functional assessment of perspective taking in which relevant behaviors (i.e., self-speaker and self-listener) are identified and defined according to their controlling relations. To aid in this analysis, relevant behavior analytic literature on perspective taking was reviewed and analyzed. Suggestions for future research on perspective taking are provided.

Problem Solving: A Conceptual Analysis and Review of Applied Research

STEPHANIE PHELAN (ABACS, LLC), Caitlin Irwin (Newton Public), Judah B. Axe (Simmons College)

The field of Applied Behavior Analysis is commonly criticized for teaching rote responding. However, teaching problem-solving skills to children with disabilities has produced novel responses to novel stimuli. Problem solving has been defined as manipulating stimuli to increase the probability of arriving at a solution to a problem (Palmer, 1991; Skinner, 1953). When given a problem, such as a question that involves recalling a past event, an individual problem solves and arrives at a solution by emitting “self-probes,” such as asking questions, drawing out possible solutions, and visualizing. Although people problem-solve on a daily basis, there is limited empirical guidance on teaching problem-solving strategies to individuals with disabilities. A challenge of analyzing problem solving is it often occurs covertly. In this paper, we provide a conceptual analysis of problem solving and a review of six applied, behavior analytic studies in which participants were taught to use problem-solving to improve math, communication, and social skills. The review highlights the procedures for teaching problem solving skills. The review ends with recommendations for research, as well as recommendations for incorporating the instruction of problem solving into behavior analytic programming for students with disabilities.


Teaching Children With Autism to Explain "How" Using a Problem Solving Strategy

SARAH FRAMPTON (Marcus Autism Center), Stacy A. Cleveland (Marcus Autism Center), Kelly Schleismann (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)

The current study evaluated whether children with autism could learn to use a problem solving strategy (PSS) to explain how to complete familiar activities. A multiple probe across sets (paired activities) was used to isolate the effects of tact training and the PSS. During baseline neither participant could explain how to complete familiar activities. Both participants were first taught to tact pictures that corresponded to the steps of two familiar activities (e.g., bowling and making juice) in set 1. Following tact training alone, the participants remained unable to successfully explain how to complete the tasks. A PSS consisting of sorting the pictures by activity, sequencing them in order, then tacting the position of the pictures in the sequence (e.g., "First... next... then... last") was trained. Following training of the PSS, the participants explained how to complete the first set of tasks in several contexts. For sets 2 and 3, tact training alone was sufficient to teach the children to explain how, as the use of the PSS generalized across sets. These results extend the problem solving literature through the inclusion of combined visual and verbal PSS and demonstration of generalization of the strategy to untrained sets.




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