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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Workshop Details

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Workshop #W42
CE Offered: BACB
A Behavior Analytic Approach to Teaching Cognition and Executive Function to Students With Autism
Friday, May 28, 2010
6:00 PM–9:00 PM
Bowie B (Grand Hyatt)
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
CE Instructor: Sarah Dunkel-Jackson, M.S.
MARY ANN CASSELL (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc), JONATHAN J. TARBOX (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), DOREEN GRANPEESHEH (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
Description: Applied behavior analysis (ABA) intervention programs are commonly accused of teaching only basic skills and/or producing only “rote” or “memorized” performances, and therefore neglecting higher-order human abilities. “Cognition” and “executive function” are two higher-order areas of functioning that research has demonstrated are often lacking in individuals with autism. “Cognition” is said to be the ability to understand one's own and/or the mental states of others, which in behavioral parlance, amounts to responding to the private events of others. “Executive functions” are said to be the brain functions which control goal-directed behavior. From a behavioral perspective, goal-directed behavior is nothing more or less than any other behavior and can therefore be taught like any skill. In this presentation, we will describe a behavioral approach to teaching the skills labeled as “cognition” and “executive functioning” by the general community. In both cases, intervention involves analyzing supposed mental functions into observable behavior and environment relations and then using proven behavioral procedures such as prompting, reinforcement, prompt-fading, discrimination training, and multiple exemplar training to establish generalized operant repertoires. Current behavioral research and directions for future research will also be discussed.
Learning Objectives: This workshop will accomplish a variety of tasks: 1. Participants will be able to behaviorally define cognition and executive function and relate those definitions to the symptoms of autism. 2. Participants will also be able to task analyze and select appropriate areas for intervention for specific cases. 3. Participants will gain knowledge of one behavioral approach and curriculum for teaching cognition and executive function skills. 4. Participants will be able to select appropriate science-based teaching methods for each skill area. 5. Participants will be able to discuss the current and future research needs in this area.
Activities: This workshop will use videos, case studies, and research analysis to meet the objectives listed. Participants will be given the opportunity to apply knowledge given through videos and case studies and will have the opportunity to ask questions.
Audience: The target audience for this workshop are BCABA and BCBA members involved in the treatment of autism or those interested in the behavioral application of higher order human abilities.
Content Area: Practice
Instruction Level: Basic



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