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

Event Details

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Symposium #468
CE Offered: BACB
Verbal Behavior Applications With Children and Older Adults
Monday, May 31, 2010
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
214C (CC)
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Tina Sidener (Caldwell College)
CE Instructor: Hannah Hoch, Ph.D.
Abstract: This symposium will present contemporary basic and applied research influenced by Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior. In the first study, Melissa Howlett will present data showing how script fading can be incorporated into the teaching of “where?” mands for information. This research illustrates how to incorporate evidence-based teaching methods with proper consideration for a response’s optimal controlling variables. In the second study, April Kisamore will present data showing that typically developing children were able to effectively answer intraverbal categorization questions after they were taught to use a visual imagery strategy to do so. This research has implications for designing more effective and explicit educational programs that require problem solving. In the third study, John Esch will present data showing that children with autism exhibit deficits in self-echoic behavior compared to typically developing peers. This research has implications for maximizing the likelihood of emergent behavior during behavioral language intervention. In the final study, Amy Gross will present data comparing elementary verbal operants in elders with and without cognitive impairment. This research has implications for designing language-based interventions for older adults.
Teaching Mands for Location to Children With Language Delays via Manipulation of Motivating Operations and a Script Fading Procedure
MELISSA A. HOWLETT (Caldwell College), Tina Sidener (Caldwell College), Patrick R. Progar (Caldwell College), David W. Sidener (Garden Academy)
Abstract: The effects of contriving motivating operations and script fading on the acquisition of the mand “where’s (object)?” were evaluated with two preschoolers with similar language skills: one boy diagnosed with language delays and one boy diagnosed with autism. During each session, trials were alternated in which high preference toys were present (AO trials) and missing (EO trials) from their typical locations. Model prompts were delivered via a voice recorder out of sight of the participants. Both participants learned to mand only when toys were missing and met criterion in a similar amount of time; however, additional prompts were needed to teach the boy diagnosed with autism to respond differentially during AO and EO trials. Generalization of manding was demonstrated across novel instructors, stimuli, and settings. Maintenance of manding was demonstrated 3-4 weeks following completion of the study. Results replicate previous research on contriving motivating operations to teach for information and extend this literature by utilizing an interspersed toy-present/absent trial arrangement, a photographic choice board to demonstrate EOs, and audiotaped scripts and script-fading procedures.
The Effects of a Visual Problem-Solving Strategy on Complex Categorization Task Performance
APRIL KISAMORE (Western New England College), James E. Carr (Auburn University)
Abstract: It has been suggested that verbally sophisticated individuals engage in a series of precurrent behaviors (e.g., covert intraverbal behavior, grouping stimuli, visual imagery) in order to solve problems such as answering questions (Palmer, 1991; Skinner, 1953). We examined the effects of one problem solving strategy—visual imagery—on increasing responses to intraverbal categorization questions. Participants were four typically developing preschoolers between the ages of 4 and 5. Visual imagery training and modeling were not sufficient to produce a substantial increase in target responses. It was not until the children were prompted to use the strategy that a large and immediate increase in the number of target responses was observed. The number of prompts necessary to occasion strategy use did not decrease until the children were given a rule. Following introduction of the rule the number of prompts quickly decreased to zero. The within-session response patterns indicate that none of the children were effectively using the visual imagery strategy prior to the prompts and that use of the strategy continued following introduction of the rule. These results were consistent for 3 of 4 children. The results are discussed in terms of Skinner’s analysis of problem solving and development of visual imagery.
An Assessment of Self-Echoic Behavior
JOHN W. ESCH (Esch Behavior Consultants, Inc.), Barbara E. Esch (Esch Behavior Consultants, Inc.), Jordan D. McCart (Texas Christian University), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)
Abstract: Studies on memory functioning in autism have found that children diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorders may fail to use effective verbal rehearsal strategies. In this literature, rehearsal has been described as a strategy for transferring material from working memory to long-term memory. Behaviorally, rehearsal may be conceptualized as self-echoic responses that follow an initial vocal response (e.g., echoic, tact, or textual). Within the behavioral literature, self-echoic behavior has been hypothesized to play an important role in, for example, emergent conditional discriminations (e.g., Lowenkron, 1991), emergent verbal operants (Horne & Lowe, 1996), and problem-solving (Skinner, 1957). Although early behavioral intervention programs for children with autism emphasize the establishment of accurate echoic repertoires, the type of stimulus control that defines a self-echoic response is typically not addressed. No procedures have been described for assessing or intervening on self-echoic repertoires. We report the development of a self-echoic assessment procedure, based on traditional digit-span assessment, that was administered to children with and without diagnoses of autism-spectrum disorders. Preliminary results indicated that in spite of similar digit spans, a discrepancy between echoic and self-echoic repertoires was more likely to be present among participants with autism than among typically developing participants. Future research should evaluate the extent to which interventions to establish self-echoic responding might produce other collateral benefits.
Evaluation of Verbal Behavior in Older Adults
AMY GROSS (Western Michigan University), R. Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University), Todd Allen Merritt (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Approximately 5% of adults over 65 years old suffer from some form of dementia (Kempler, 2005), a condition affecting memory and other cognitive functions, one of which is language. Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior may lend itself to assessment methods that will identify specific verbal behavior deficits, which, in turn, may lead to more specific treatment recommendations. The purpose of this study is to evaluate verbal behavior in older adults. The research will address two questions: 1) As language deteriorates, does it do so in a pattern compatible with Skinner’s functional verbal operants? 2) In what way do verbal behavior problems differ between older adults with and without cognitive impairment? Researchers will evaluate 30 participants, 15 with and 15 without cognitive impairment (additional data to be collected). Based on Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior, researchers developed a series of assessments and will administer them to participants on two occasions separated by one week. Results will reveal the consistency across repeated assessments and across different verbal operant classes, and differences in performance between the groups. Using Skinner’s framework of verbal behavior may provide for evaluation of specific verbal behavior deficits, which may allow for more individualized intervention methods.



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