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.


Fourth International Conference; Australia, 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #89
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Approaches to Language Intervention for Children with Autism
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: James E. Carr (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: James E. Carr, Ph.D.

This symposium will present contemporary research relevant to behavioral language training for children with autism. In the first study, Barbara Esch will present data demonstrating that the stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure is useful in increasing vocalizations via automatic reinforcement such that they can be directly reinforced. In the second study, John Esch will present data demonstrating that lag reinforcement schedules can be used to increase vocal variability. In the third study, Jim Carr will present data on the use of multiple schedules and signaled delayed reinforcement in the reduction, but not elimination, of high-rate mands. In the final study, Linda LeBlanc will present data demonstrating how transfer of stimulus control procedures can be used to teach intraverbal categorization.

The Role of Automatic Reinforcement in Early Speech Acquisition.
BARBARA E. ESCH (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University), Laura L. Grow (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Children who emit few speech vocalizations and whose echoic repertoires are weak are at an instructional disadvantage for speech acquisition. Stimulus-stimulus pairing (SSP) has been shown to produce temporary increases, possibly attributable to automatic reinforcement, in post-pairing vocalizations (e.g., Yoon & Bennett, 2000), thus allowing subsequent direct reinforcement of these responses as verbal operants. Although the behavioral principles supporting an automatic reinforcement role in SSP are well established, empirical support for SSP is not robust (e.g., Esch, Carr, & Michael, 2005; Miguel, Carr, & Michael, 2002), calling into question the ability of SSP to establish speech as a conditioned reinforcer. This study presents empirical results of SSP procedural modifications that produced increases in within-session vocalizations that were subsequently directly reinforced as mands. The separate and combined contributions of these modifications are discussed in the context of the role of automatic reinforcement of speech responses.
Increasing Vocal Variability with a Lag Schedule of Differential Reinforcement.
JOHN W. ESCH (ESCH Behavior Consultants, Inc.), Jessa R. Love (Western Michigan University), Barbara E. Esch (Esch Behavior Consultants, Inc.)
Abstract: Many children with autism have vocal repertoires that are too limited to allow successful shaping of more complex vocal responses. Vocal variability would provide a greater number of phonemes available for reinforcement, thus increasing the overall complexity of the speech repertoire. Previous research (e.g., Page & Neuringer, 1985) shows that variability is a reinforceable dimension of behavior, much like frequency or intensity. In applied settings, it has been demonstrated that Lag schedules (differentially reinforcing behaviors that differ from the previous behavior) can alter behavioral variability. This study used a Lag 1 schedule to increase vocal variability in a child with a diagnosis of autism. An unexpected effect of this procedure was a slight increase in echoic approximations to the vocal model.
Reducing High-Rate Mands of Children with Autism: An Evaluation of Stimulus Control and Delayed Reinforcement Procedures.
JAMES E. CARR (Western Michigan University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell College), Jamie M. Severtson (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: When teaching children with disabilities to request (mand) for items, it is often necessary to deliver the requested item immediately and frequently. Such delivery might result in undesirably high rates of requesting to the extent that it is neither appropriate nor practical. The purpose of the present investigation was to replicate and extend previous research by evaluating the efficacy of different procedures for maintaining practical rates of manding: (a) signaled delay to reinforcement, (b) multiple CRF-EXT schedules. Our data suggest that (a) multiple schedules resulted in a substantial decrease in rates of manding to stable and more practical levels, (b) delay to reinforcement with continuous signals resulted in better response reduction and maintenance than delay to reinforcement with brief signals.
Teaching Intraverbal Behavior to Children with Autism.
LINDA A. LEBLANC (Western Michigan University), Tina R. Goldsmith (Western Michigan University), Rachael A. Sautter (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Skinner’s conceptual analysis of language has influenced one model of early and intensive behavioral intervention with children, which incorporates verbal operants including mands, tacts, intraverbals, etc. Many studies have examined the mand and tact relations, with little focus on teaching intraverbal behavior. In the present experiment, children with autism were taught categorical intraverbals using a transfer-of-stimulus-control procedure (i.e., tact to intraverbal) in combination with errorless learning (i.e., delayed prompting). Each of three children learned to name items associated with preselected categories (e.g., “What are some colors?”) with limited generalization to a fourth, non-targeted category, and limited maintenance of skills.



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