|Abstract: Poor or no language skills are typical for most preschool children with autism.
Language can be divided into the two components of receptive, or listener, skills and
expressive, or speaker, skills. Recommendations for sequencing language instruction vary
across the different behavior-analytic instructional models (Lovaas, 1981; Barbara &
Rasmussen, 2007; Sundberg & Partington, 1998; Sundberg, 2008). The current study sought
to examine those recommendations using young children (aged two- to four-years) with
limited vocal repertoires. For two of the three participants, there appeared to be no
significant difference in the number of trials or the number of errors in learning the
expressive use of words, regardless of whether or not the children had previously learned
to respond receptively to those specific words. This suggests that having a receptive
history provides no major benefit for expressive training. Implications for learning to learn and naming are also discussed.
It is a common understanding that learners diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder struggle to acquire complex language repertoires. Moreover, such learners often display rigid, rote responding, prompt dependency, inattentiveness, and inadequate generalization of skills. Although these characteristics likely have their origins in the nature of the disorder itself, it is possible that discrete-trial teaching procedures and more traditional approaches to training verbal behavior exacerbate such characteristics. The current paper will illustrate the benefits of using precision teaching to train and measure the establishment of derived stimulus relations with learners with autism. These procedures will be discussed with respect to their origins in behavioral science, their utility for more reliably evaluating learning and skill mastery, and their effectiveness in producing complex, generative language repertoires. Such repertoires include listening and attending, response flexibility, creativity, inferential language, critical thinking, problem solving, and comprehension. Video clips, clinical outcome data, and controlled research findings obtained with learners who have received this type of training will be shared and discussed.