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 #82
CE Offered: BACB
Early Skill Acquisition and Clinical Implications for Children With ASD
Saturday, May 27, 2017
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3C
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Cassondra M Gayman (Marcus Autism Center)
Discussant: Tina Sidener (Caldwell University)
CE Instructor: Cassondra M Gayman, M.S.

Social communication deficits are a core characteristic of Autism and many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are faced with a variety of challenges related to early skill acquisition. Without treatment, these deficits in skill acquisition often lead to significant delays and challenges as students with ASD advance in age. This symposium examines four papers aimed at addressing skill deficits observed within Level 1 of the VB-MAPP. Delfs, Yosick, Walton, Kansal, and Shillingsburg examined mand training via a telehealth approach. Gayman et al. examined a teaching approach aimed at comparing the efficiency of teaching mands through modified sign language versus a picture exchange system. Conine, Vollmer, and Bolivar evaluates procedures for training children with ASD to respond to their name and the conditions under which responding maintains. Finally, Deshais, Phillips, Wiskow, Donaldson, and Vollmer evaluated the acquisition of imitation skills with and without permanent products. Findings from these studies have implications for clinical programming and future directions for research on early skill acquisition. Results and common themes will be discussed by Dr. Tina Sidner.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): imitation, listener skill, mands, skill acquisition

Feasibility and Efficacy of Teaching Initial Mands to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Through Telehealth

CAITLIN H. DELFS (Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atl), Rachel Yosick (Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atl), William Walton (Marcus Autism Center & Children’s Healthcare of At), Bhavna Kansal (Marcus Autism Center & Children’s Healthcare of At), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)

Interventions aimed at improving functional communication, such as mand training (MT), are often a core component of behavioral interventions for children with autism. MT can be implemented through direct services or delivered as a caregiver-mediated intervention (Loughrey et al., 2014). Several barriers to accessing evidence-based treatment for children with autism are common, including lengthy time commitment and geographical restrictions (Thomas et al., 2007). Prior studies have provided promising evidence of the utility of telehealth technology to address these barriers to access and deliver behavioral services to children with autism (e.g., Wacker et al., 2013; Vismara et al., 2012 and 2013); however, research is limited. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of MT via telehealth in 15, non-vocal, early learners with autism. Feasibility was measured by the percentage of pre- and post- measures collected, drop-out rates, treatment fidelity, and social acceptability by caregivers and therapists. Results indicate that the majority of enrolled participants completed the entire study, attended most sessions, reported satisfaction, and reported willingness to participate in telehealth services again. In addition, gains in requesting and commenting were reported across the majority of participants who completed the study.


A Comparison of Picture Touch and Modified Sign Language Training to Establish Discriminated Mands in Children With Autism

CASSONDRA M GAYMAN (Marcus Autism Center & Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), Sarah Frampton (Marcus Autism Center & Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), Dianna Shippee Walters (Marcus Autism Center & Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), Meighan Adams (Marcus Autism Center & Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), Caitlin H. Delfs (Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory University School of Medicine), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have limited speech abilities and often use alternative communication systems in order to effectively communicate with others. A few studies have compared different communication modalities in an effort to determine which form of communication may be most effective when teaching requesting skills (Tincani, 2004; Barlow, Tiger, Slocum, & Miller, 2013). The current study used a multiple probe design across behaviors (mands) with an embedded alternating treatments design to replicate and extend the comparison study conducted by Barlow and colleagues. In this study, experimenters simultaneously taught the modified sign and picture touch or picture exchange for one preferred item while two additional items remained in baseline. Once mastery criteria were met for a mand item, a post-test consisting of correspondence checks between the indicating response (i.e., pointing to preferred item), mand, and item consumed was conducted for all three mand items. Data for all three participants suggest mands taught using picture touch or exchange may be acquired more rapidly than modified sign and are discriminated from other mands. These data and their clinical implications will be discussed.


Responding to Name in Children With Autism: An Evaluation of Training, Generalization, and Maintenance

DANIEL CONINE (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida), Hypatia A Bolivar (University of Florida)

Responding to name is a critical deficit and diagnostic criterion for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and appears as a target for intervention in many early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) curricula. However, little research evaluating procedures for training response to name currently exists for this population. The current study evaluates procedures for training this response, and the conditions under which responding maintains, in four children with ASD. Procedures included the delivery of social interaction with and without preferred tangible items contingent on responding to name, response prompts, prompt-fading, and differential reinforcement of independent responding. Procedures were evaluated using a nonconcurrent multiple baseline across subjects with an embedded multielement design. Generalization was assessed using a multiple probe design across settings. Results indicated that social interaction was not sufficient to establish or maintain responding, and some form of programmed tangible reinforcement was necessary to produce meaningful increases. Following acquisition, responding maintained at relatively thin schedules of tangible reinforcement, and generalization to non-treatment contexts was observed. Implications for clinical practice and future research will be discussed in this presentation.

A Comparison of Targets With and Without Permanent Products During Object Motor Imitation Training
MEGHAN DESHAIS (University of Florida), Cara L. Phillips (Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Katie Wiskow (California State University, Stanislaus), Jeanne M. Donaldson (Louisiana State University), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) display serious deficits in imitative behavior relative to their typically developing peers (Williams, Whiten, & Singh, 2004). Consequently, many assessments, curricula, and manuals used to develop teaching programs for children with ASD target imitation (Maurice, Green, & Luce, 1996; Sundberg, 2008). During object motor imitation training (OMIT), the targeted skills can be categorized into targets that briefly generate a permanent product (e.g., putting a block in a bucket) and targets that do not leave a product (e.g., shaking a rattle; Maurice, Green, & Luce, 1996). It is unknown whether targets with or without permanent products are acquired more readily; this study aims to answer this question. Counterintuitively, our results suggest that targets without a permanent product are acquired faster than targets with permanent products by children with ASD during OMIT. Clinical implications for OMIT for children with ASD will be discussed along with possible explanations for the unexpected results.



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