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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #163
CE Offered: BACB
Beyond the Basics: Training Complex Verbal Skills Through Relational Frames Using Arbitrary, Non-Arbitrary, and Cross-Modal Stimuli
Sunday, May 28, 2017
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer Williams (University of Southern Mississippi)
CE Instructor: Autumn N. McKeel, Ph.D.
Abstract: The utility of relational frame theory (RFT) translated to applied settings can provide a contemporary and efficient approach to expanding complex verbal repertoires for individuals with language deficits. RFT provides an account of language that includes, but is not limited to, frames of comparison, distinction, coordination, and hierarchy. Relational training recommends the use of both non-arbitrary and arbitrary relations across different stimuli. There is currently a growing body of literature showcasing language skills through relational training with a continuing need to explore the various frame families. The present symposium will discuss the relational frames of hierarchy and comparison, and the procedures for effectively teaching children with autism and related disabilities how to relate non-arbitrary and arbitrary stimuli effectively within these frames. The first two studies will also explore transformations of stimulus function among participant relational skills. Additionally, the importance of cross-modal equivalence and relational training will be examined, specifically with gustatory, auditory, and visual sets of stimuli.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Arbitrary Relations, Cross-Modal Relations, Non-Arbitrary Relations, RFT

Teaching Hierarchical Relations to Children With Autism and Related Disabilities

BECKY BARRON (Southern Illinois University), Jordan Belisle (Southern Illinois University), Dana Paliliunas (Southern Illinois University), Caleb Stanley (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

Relational frame theory (RFT) identifies general categories of relational frames in which stimulus events and classes are often related. Hierarchical frames address the relation between two stimulus classes with regards to how one is a member or attribute of the other. A series of multiple-baseline studies were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of Promoting the Emergence of Advanced Knowledge: Transformation module (PEAK-T) programs for teaching hierarchical relations to children with autism. The participants were taught to demonstrate a particular skill such as sorting or stacking different stimuli based on stimulus function, to more complex sorting skills such as arranging by multiple attributes. The studies will highlight the use of non-arbitrary and arbitrary relational frames. The results indicated that the participants were able to learn hierarchical relations. Participants also demonstrated a transformation of stimulus function to novel stimuli following mastery of the initial training procedure. Results of this study imply that children with autism can be taught hierarchical relations using the PEAK-T module. Implications regarding the efficiency of relational training will be discussed.


Arbitrary Comparative Relations and the Transformation of Stimulus Functions in Terms of Non-Arbitrary Comparative Properties in Individuals With Autism

AYLA SCHMICK (Southern Illinois University), Jordan Belisle (Southern Illinois University), Caleb Stanley (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University), Lindsey Renee Ellenberger (Southern Illinois University)

Relational Frame Theory provides a behavioral account of language development that emphasizes non-arbitrary and arbitrary relations among stimuli. Of the applied literature surrounding derived stimulus relations, approximately 73% has evaluated developing coordinated relations; however, comparatively fewer studies have evaluated facilitating the development of other relational frame families. Facilitating the development of derived stimulus relations can have important benefits for individuals with deficits in their verbal repertoires. In the present study, we evaluated a set of procedures taken from the PEAK-Transformation curriculum for determining if two adolescents with autism could demonstrate a transformation of stimulus function from non-arbitrary stimulus properties to arbitrary stimuli following comparative relational training. A multiple baseline across skills with an embedded multiple probe design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the procedures. The percentage of correct responses during baseline were below 50%, but with successive training the participants were able to demonstrate the directly trained r(bigger) and r(faster) relations, as well as the combinatorially entailed r(smaller) and r(slower) relations (Tau-U = .98, and 1.0, p<0.001). Additionally, both participants were able to match the arbitrary stimuli with non-arbitrary stimulus properties following training. The implications of the procedures in application to individuals with autism are discussed.


Teaching Gustatory, Audible, and Visual Stimuli Sets to Adults With Developmental Disabilities

Jaime Elise Matas (Aurora University), AUTUMN N. MCKEEL (Aurora University)

Programs that target language deficits for children and adults with disabilities are often conducted unimodally, most often with visual and auditory stimuli. More recent literature has explored the use of cross-modal relations (i.e., gustatory, olfactory, tactile, etc.) to enhance the verbal repertoire of individuals with language deficits. More specifically, recent studies have discussed the use of stimulus equivalence with cross-modal relations in the development of new verbal skills. A multiple baseline design was conducted across three participants (three tier and two tier) to determine whether PEAK equivalence module was an effective tool in teaching adults with autism relationships among stimuli. A program training and testing for derivation of transitivity among gustatory, auditory, and visual sensory stimuli was conducted. Stimuli were selected and probed initially preceding the training. First, gustatory stimuli to a visual picture was trained. Then a visual picture to a spoken word was trained. Finally, once mastery criterion was met, each participants accuracy of responding was tested to evaluate results. Results showed that all five participants reached mastery criterion in training sessions and were able to derive new relations following direct training.




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