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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #101
CE Offered: BACB
Manipulating Motivating Operations and Reinforcement Schedules to Increase the Verbal Repertoire of Individuals With Autism
Saturday, May 26, 2018
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Grand Hall C
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jonathan Dean Schmidt (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: April N. Kisamore (Caldwell University)
CE Instructor: April N. Kisamore, Ph.D.

For individuals with autism, effective instructional methods for increasing their communication repertoire is essential for preventing social impairments due to miscommunication or the occurrence of problem behavior. This makes initial instruction in foundational communication skills invaluable for future generalization and maintenance of skills. The first study addresses the impact of discrimination of negatively-reinforced mands by evaluating training methods for teaching participants to reject nonpreferred foods on which they were trained, generalization to novel nonpreferred foods, and maintenance over time. Authors for the second study take a strategy that has commonly been investigated for mands, manipulating motivating operations prior to instruction, to determine what effects presession attention has on acquisition of tacts and intraverbals. With the third study, authors promote early requisite behaviors for skill acquisition by demonstrating the utility of environmental arrangements, differential reinforcement, and demand fading procedures to promote choice allocation to instructional environments when demand requirements are high and schedule thinning occurs. Authors for the fourth study evaluated the effects of echoic prompts to increase mand utterance length from single word mands to more socially clear and acceptable mands using multi-word sentences. The discussant will deliver a synthesized conclusion and present future directions.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): mand, negative reinforcement, verbal behavior
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts who are clinicians or researchers. Appropriate for graduate students or individuals who already have their BCBA.


Discrimination and Generalization of Negatively-Reinforced Mands in Young Children With Autism

(Applied Research)
LAURA C. CHEZAN (Old Dominion University), Erik Drasgow (University of South Carolina), Gabriela McWhorter (Old Dominion University)

In this study, we examined the generalization of negatively-reinforced mands in three young children with autism. First, we used example and nonexample stimuli embedded in mand training to teach a new, socially appropriate, negatively-reinforced mand to reject unpreferred food items while continuously assessing mand discrimination. Second, we evaluated the discriminated generalization of the newly acquired mand by using untrained example and nonexample stimuli. Finally, we conducted maintenance probes to examine if the new, discriminated mand occurred over time in the absence of training. Results suggest that our mand training produced acquisition of a discriminated negatively-reinforced mand in all three children. Data indicate that the newly acquired, discriminated mand generalized to untrained food items and was maintained after training was discontinued. We discuss clinical implications and the conceptual significance of using example and nonexample trials to produce acquisition, generalization, and maintenance of negatively-reinforced mands in young children with autism and language delays.

The Effects of Presession Attention on the Acquisition of Tacts and Intraverbals
(Applied Research)
MIRELA CENGHER (City University of New York, The Graduate Center), Daniel Mark Fienup (Columbia University)
Abstract: This study examined the effects of presession attention on the acquisition of tacts (Experiment 1) and intraverbals (Experiment 2) in children diagnosed with Autism. Each participant was exposed to 3 conditions. In the first 2 conditions, participants experienced a 15-min interval of either presession attention (PA) or no presession attention (NPA) followed by a teaching session. The third condition was a control condition. Across experiments, all participants acquired the verbal operants assigned to the NPA condition, whereas only four of the six participants acquired the verbal operants assigned to the PA condition. Five of the six participants required fewer sessions to meet the mastery criterion and a shorter duration of training for the verbal operants assigned to the NPA condition as compared to the PA condition. These outcomes suggest that antecedent manipulations traditionally reserved for mand training can positively affect the acquisition of other verbal operants. Theoretical implications are discussed.

Evaluation of Structured Interventions to Increase Response Allocation to Instructional Settings for Girls With Autism

(Applied Research)
TOM CARIVEAU (University of North Carolina Wilmington), M. Alice Shillingsburg (May Institute), Arwa Alamoudi (University of Georgia), Taylor Thompson (Marcus Autism Center; Georgia State University), Brittany Lee Bartlett (Marcus Autism Center), Lawrence Scahill (Emory University School of Medicine; Marcus Autism Center)

Children with autism spectrum disorder may engage in a variety of behaviors that influence the efficacy of early intervention programming (e.g., tantrums, disruptive behaviors, etc.). Behavior analysts may utilize a variety of strategies to reduce these competing behaviors and increase appropriate repertoires. However, these strategies may vary in efficacy and caregivers may express concerns when the child engages in problem behavior in a therapeutic setting. The current study describes the findings of a structured intervention protocol on problem behavior and alternative behavior (e.g., compliance, close proximity, etc.) for nine female participants diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and no vocal verbal behavior. The intervention included the arrangement of concurrent reinforcement schedules, demand fading, and differential reinforcement procedures without the use of physical guidance. Findings indicate that the topography of problem behavior differed across participants during baseline with seven participants completing all stages of the protocol. One participant did not complete the protocol due to high rates of motor stereotypy. For an additional participant, baseline rates of problem behavior were low, thus, progression through the protocol was not necessary. Implications for early intervention are discussed.


Effects of Echoic Prompts on Increasing Mand Utterance Length for Children with Autism

(Applied Research)
YANNICK ANDREW SCHENK (May Institute), M. Alice Shillingsburg (May Institute), Sarah Frampton (May Institute), Brittany Lee Bartlett (Marcus Autism Center), Taylor Thompson (Marcus Autism Center), Bethany Hansen (Marcus Autism Center)

Mand training curricula often emphasize the teaching of single-word utterances (e.g., "cookie") to initially provide young learners with an efficient and functional form of communication to make requests. However, as a child's mand repertoire increases, it may be preferable to increase the mean length of utterances (MLU; e.g., "I want cookie"). A total of six children between ages of 4 and 6 years old who primarily manded and tacted using single words participated in the current study. A multiple baseline design across participants was used to assess the effects of a treatment on MLU. Following baseline probes, a treatment involving echoic prompts using two- to three-word utterances (mands) was used to increase participants' mean length of mands. Results indicated the use of echoic prompts was effective in increasing MLUs across all participants. Maintenance probes were conducted with one of the participants and results showed that MLUs maintained over four sessions.




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