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

Previous Page


Symposium #18
CE Offered: BACB
How Much Is Enough? — Determining Normative Levels of Social-Communicative Behaviors in Preschoolers
Saturday, May 29, 2010
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
205 (CC)
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Lisa J. Stoddard (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.)
Discussant: Sebastien Bosch (California Unified Service Providers)
CE Instructor: Peter Sturmey, Ph.D.Ph.D.
Abstract: In addition to a restricted range of interests, autism spectrum disorders are defined by deficits in language and social skills. Consequently, a considerable focus in autism intervention and research is the development of social and communicative repertoires. Given the current body of literature, clinicians now have a wide variety of empirically-validated tools at their disposal when designing individualized intervention plans for their clients. While the goal of these strategies generally is to increase some given social / communicative skill (e.g., increase spontaneous mands, increase eye contact), clinicians often do not have prescribed normative levels upon which to base their ultimate goals for clients. As such, the purpose of this symposium is to review the limited research to date regarding norms for some of the most commonly targeted skills, as well as describe the results of our own observational studies on the levels of mands and tacts, eye contact, and social initiations and responses among typically developing preschoolers. These results will assist behavior analysts in the generation of developmentally appropriate and measurable treatment goals and outcomes.
Determining Normative Quantity and Quality of Mands and Tacts in Typically Developing Preschoolers
Kristen Carmi (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.), Lisa J. Stoddard (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.), Debra Berry Malmberg (California State University, Northridge), JENNIFER L. HARRIS (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.)
Abstract: There is no shortage of empirical literature supporting verbal behavior training as a highly efficient and effective tool in developing and maintaining functional communication across populations, particularly as an early intervention for children with language delays and developmental disabilities, including autism. There is also an abundance of developmental research quantifying normative levels for sentence structure and vocabulary acquisition rates. However, the developmentally appropriate ranges of manding and tacting per interval for typically developing children have yet to be reported. As such, we sought to observe typically developing toddlers, ages 2-3 years old, across multiple conditions in the natural environment to determine normative, developmentally appropriate and unprompted ranges of manding and tacting behavior. The current presentation will extend our previous findings regarding total and novel mand rates by reporting additional variables measured, such as mean length of utterance (MLU), gender differences, and mand classification (e.g., mands for tangibles, activities, cessation, information, etc.). Interobserver reliability, utilized for mand and tact topography as well as mand and tact frequency, was within acceptable ranges. The implication of this study is that normative levels and quality of verbal behavior will inform developmentally appropriate expectations and targets for intervention for children with autism and other disorders.
Determining Typical Levels of Eye Contact in Children 2-4 Years Old
COURTNEY LANAGAN (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.), Elizabeth Sue Monday (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.), Lisa J. Stoddard (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.)
Abstract: It is widely known that eye contact plays a crucial role in human development and learning. Children with autism often struggle to establish and maintain eye contact from the early stages of development and into later years when eye contact is socially expected during interactions with peers and adults. However, little is known regarding the usual frequency with which typically developing children establish eye contact with their interlocutors during these social interactions. As such, intervention goals for children with autism are often designed based on what is assumed to be typical and may overestimate or underestimate the actual behavior that typically developing children display. Thus, the current study sought to extend upon previous research and determine normative levels of eye contact by directly observing typically developing children aged 2-4 years old while engaged in play with peers and measuring instances of eye contact. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for designing data-driven goals for children with autism.
Determining Normative Levels of Social Interaction in Typically Developing Preschoolers
LISA J. STODDARD (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.), Jennifer L. Harris (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.)
Abstract: By definition, social deficits are observed in children with autism spectrum disorders. Numerous studies have described the use of behavior analytic technology and procedures to increase social behavior in children with autism. The focus of much of these studies is participants' use of independent social initiations toward peers, as well as responses to peers' initiations. However, relatively little research has described normative levels of initiations and responses in typically developing children. The purpose of the present address is to review the published studies to date that report levels of at least one form of social interaction in typically developing children, and limitations of these studies will be discussed. To extend the current body of research in this area, the presentation will also review the results of our own observational investigation of social interactions among typically developing preschoolers during multiple group free-play opportunities. Recorded levels of social initiations and responses to others' initiations will be reported via percent of intervals and percent per opportunity, and the implications of these data on the development of measurable goals for children with autism will be discussed.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh