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 #164
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Derived Relational Responding and Complex Language Repertoires: Developments in Assessment and Education.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
214C (CC)
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Valerie R. Rogers (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: Steven C. Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
CE Instructor: Kristen Kelley, M.A.
Abstract: It is clear that instructional practices stemming from the principles of behavioral science can enhance educational outcomes. However, it is also clear that, despite observed improvements in basic skills, certain learners continue to lack flexible and complex language repertoires. For example, precision teaching practices can be used to increase a child’s reading rate to 150 words per minute. However, for those learners with pre-existing language deficits, this fluent reading speed has little impact on reading comprehension. Moreover, discrete-trial procedures can be used to establish basic speech skills with a child on the autism spectrum; however, this child may remain unable to speak with meaning and listen with understanding. It is the basic premise of this symposium that these more complex language repertoires are inherently relational, and that deficits in such repertoires can be remedied through the assessment and subsequent training of derived relational responding. In the first paper, data will be presented on the use of an early assessment tool for identifying the emergence of generalized derived symmetry in young children with autism as they progress through verbal behavior training. In the second paper, the Relational Learning Sequence (RLS) developed at the Center for Advanced Learning will be described and its link to Relational Frame Theory articulated. Clinical outcome data obtained with learners progressing through the Relational Learning Sequence at the center will also be presented. In the final paper, data will be presented from a controlled study examining the establishment of two critical relational operants: coordination and distinction. The relevance of these relational operants to reading and listening comprehension will be identified and future areas of research offered.
The Role of Relational Operants in the Establishment of Advanced Language Skills
KIMBERLY NIX BERENS (Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.), Nicholas M. Berens (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Have you ever trained a vast verbal repertoire in a child with autism only to feel that his/her repertoire could be more flexible, varied and contextually sensitive? Have you ever taught a child to read to standard levels of accuracy and rate only to realize that the child does not understand a single word he/she is reading? Using current clinical and experimental work at the Center for Advanced Learning, Inc., the current paper will cast these problems as deficits in relational responding. Having clarified potential functional units, the paper will then discuss strategies for developing interventions that teach children to speak with meaning and listen with understanding.
Toward the Development of a Behavioral Assessment for Detecting the Emergence of Generalized Derived Symmetry
Jonathan J. Tarbox (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), EVELYN R. GOULD (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Megan Kirby (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
Abstract: There is a growing consensus that derived relational responding is at the heart of complex human behavior (e.g., stimulus equivalence and relational framing). Early intensive behavioral intervention programs for children with autism sometimes begin working with children who have essentially no verbal repertoire and often begin with the simplest mands and echoics - repertoires which do not involved derived relational responding. In the best case scenario, the child progresses through simple verbal behavior training, to more complex repertoires, including intraverbals such as categorization, classification, etc., which clearly do involved derived relational responding. That is, for children who achieve an optimal outcome and whose language therefore is no longer delayed, the ability to derived untrained relations at some point emerges. If this ability is indeed a functional foundational unit to complex verbal behavior, then its emergence as a result of intervention may be among the most important goals of intervention. Despite its importance, virtually no research has been done on developing a tool for measuring when and if this ability emerges. This presentation describes early work on developing such a tool. The purpose of the tool is to track when and if a child can derive untrained symmetrical relations. Results of the assessment may be useful to prescribe treatment, as well as a measure of the outcome of early intervention. Data are presented from the development of the tool with typical children and pilot data from children with autism are presented as well.
An Investigation of Language-Building Procedures on Derived Relations of Coordination and Distinction: Implications for Listening and Reading Comprehension
KENDRA L. RICKARD (University of Nevada, Reno), Kimberly Nix Berens (Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.)
Abstract: One of the most important factors linked to future language skills is the frequency and quality of language-based experiences in the first three years of life. Children who lack this experience, or fail to benefit from it due to Autism Spectrum Disorder, or other developmental delays, are at risk for academic failure. The impact of language delays is particularly apparent in reading comprehension. Even when children learn to read, it is not uncommon for comprehension to be left lacking. Behavior involved in reading comprehension are complex, language-based, and inherently relational. Most instructional efforts are geared towards explicit instruction of the behaviors involved in prediction and inference, two of the most critical skills involved in reading comprehension. Without requisite language skills, these efforts are often futile. Relational Frame Theory (RFT) is a useful model for understanding the core behavioral processes necessary for reading comprehension. Precision Teaching provides a measurement tool for capturing the development of operants and instructional procedures to guide efficient and effective language-building procedures. In the current study, PT practices were used for expanding language-based histories. The effects of this training were evaluated with respect to two relational operants seen as critical to reading comprehension. Specifically, an A/B multiple probe design was used to evaluate the effects of language-building procedures across multiple exemplars on the derived relations of coordination and distinction.



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