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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Paper Session #237
Verbal Behavior in Children With Autism: Variables That May Affect Acquisition and How Acquisition May Affect the Individual
Monday, May 30, 2016
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Columbus Hall KL, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AUT
Chair: Oliver Wendt (Purdue University)

Neurophysiological Changes in Response to Intervention in Non-Verbal Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

Domain: Applied Research
Jane Yip (Purdue University), OLIVER WENDT (Purdue University)

Outcomes of interventions for individuals on the autism spectrum are primarily measured in terms of performance outcomes involving behaviors that are observed as external events by others. Internal events happening inside the head such as neurophysiological responses are seldom observed; what happens inside the brain has been erroneously believed to be "private events". This paper proposes that it is not only possible to observe such "private events", these events follows predictable physical laws much like the way behaviors obey natural laws. Neurophysiological events in the brain are concrete occurrences that not only immediately follows a stimuli but is the driver of observable behaviors. Just like a lack of a microscope does not qualify for the non-existence of micro-organism, a lack of recording equipment does not mean that what happens in the brain is explanatory fiction. In the new millennium, the onslaught of neuroscience has found its way into the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Using applied neuroscience methods, it is possible to record events that happens in the brain upon the delivery of a stimulus discrimination. Whereas the trajectory of a behavior can be traced to a series of cause and effect, the path of neurophysiological events accompanies the path of behavior the way the shadow follows the person. The invention of the telescope has opened up a new way of viewing the cosmos. By projection, it is expected that the interdisciplinary collaboration between neuroscience and service intervention in ABA can form new questions. This paper follows the intervention outcome of a research study conducted in the laboratory of Dr Oliver Wendt. He teaches communication to children on the severe end of the autism spectrum who are non-verbal or do not utter spoken words. During the study, the research subjects are taught to communicate via an in-house augmentative communication device, Speakall. As the intervention progresses, participants becomes proficient in using the device and are able to mand, tact, do intraverbal, carry out rudimentary conversations through dragging icons across a strip that emulate the PECS system. Some participants become able to "speak" or utter certain recognizable words. During this intervention, subjects were brain-mapped and their internal events are compared with their acquisition of language and communication. The results shows brain re-wiring in specific language circuits.


Verbal Behavior of Minimally Vocal Children With Autism Across School Environments

Domain: Applied Research
M. Y. SAVANA BAK (Michigan State University), Josh Plavnick (Michigan State University), Julie L. Thompson (Michigan State University)

Many children with autism spectrum disorder who receive public education divide their school days between self-contained classrooms for academic and functional instruction and the general education classroom for social exposure and peer interaction. However, there is little research that provides information on how much language and social communication actually happens in the respective settings. This study tracked the vocal verbal behaviors of six Kindergarten to third grade children with moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder across the entire school day using a Language Environment Analysis Digital Language Processor. The Digital Language Processor data automatically recorded and disaggregated data on child vocal counts, adult vocal counts, and vocal interactions for 19 observation days distributed across the 2014-15 school year. Preliminary results indicate participants engaged in different levels of vocalizations between self-contained and general education environments with greater rates of vocalization in the self-contained classrooms when other instructional variables were held constant. The interaction and adult word counts during those periods were similar. The data suggests more consideration is needed to provide an environment that ensures optimal rates of verbal behavior for children with autism spectrum disorder. Results associated with other environments and instructional activities will also be presented.




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