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 #16
CE Offered: BACB
Beliefs, Deception, and RFT, Oh My! Teaching Complex Verbal Behavior to Children With and Without Autism
Saturday, May 26, 2018
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom F
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: M. Fernanda Welsh (The ABRITE Organization)
CE Instructor: M. Fernanda Welsh, M.S.

There are many empirically supported procedures for teaching early verbal behavior to individuals. As the verbal behavior repertoire grows, so does the complexity of targets and teaching procedures. This symposium will present research evaluating assessment and interventions for complex verbal behavior in children with and without autism. The first paper will present a study investigating procedures using multiple exemplar training to teach children with autism to identify the false beliefs of others. The second paper will present data on using multiple exemplar training to teach typically developing children to understand the double meaning of jokes. The final paper will present a review and critical analysis of research on the PEAK Assessment and Curriculum.

Keyword(s): complex skills, perspective taking, RFT, ToM
Target Audience:

BCBAs and BCaBAs


Teaching Children With Autism to Identify False Beliefs of Others

AZIZULL KAUR DHADWAL (Pepperdine University; Autism Behavior Intervention), Adel C. Najdowski (Pepperdine University)

Children with autism spectrum disorder have deficits in perspective taking abilities required to identify false beliefs of others (Baron-Cohen, Leslie & Frith, 1985). Research has demonstrated that children with autism can be taught to recognize the false beliefs of others using video modeling (e.g., Charlop-Christy & Daneshvar, 2003; LeBlanc & Coates, 2003). The current study extends behavioral research by teaching children with autism to identify false beliefs using a treatment package conducted in the natural environment with live people. Using a nonconcurrent multiple baseline across participants design, this study evaluates the use of multiple exemplar training, prompting, and reinforcement to train identification of false beliefs in two tasks. Thus far, the data from participant one demonstrates that the treatment package was effective in teaching him to identify false beliefs across two false belief tasks (an appearance-reality task and unexpected transfer task). Generalization across people and untrained stimuli was observed. Furthermore, the participant improved from baseline to posttreatment on correct responding to the classic false-belief task known as the Sally-Anne task, which was never trained. Data are currently being collected with two additional participants.


VB, RFT, and LOL: A Behavior Analytic Approach to Teaching Humor Comprehension

ROCIO NUNEZ (California State University, Fresno), Marianne L. Jackson (California State University, Fresno)

The understanding of complex forms of verbal behavior, specifically jokes with double meanings, is a skill that has been suggested to emerge in typically developing children between the ages of 7 and 11 years. Given that humor has been documented to be an important element in social interactions, it would be beneficial to identify the specific skills necessary to establish the speaker and listener repertoire of humor in order to remediate deficits in this area for specific clinical populations (e.g. autism spectrum disorders). The behavioral literature on this topic is somewhat limited but suggests that such skills are learned operants that can be taught through the use of systematic teaching procedures. As such, the current study employed multiple exemplar training and a three-step error correction procedure, implemented in a multiple-baseline across participants design, to teach typically developing children, between the ages of five and six years, to understand double-meaning jokes. All four participants demonstrated low levels of comprehension of double-meaning jokes in baseline and met mastery criterion for comprehension and appreciation measures in post-intervention. Post-probes and maintenance results were mixed with two participants requiring re-introduction of the intervention before meeting criteria on follow-up measures.

Moving Toward Relational Complexity: Review and Critical Analysis of PEAK Research
ALEXANDRIA EMILY LEIDT (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
Abstract: The Promoting the Emergence of Advanced Knowledge Relational Training System (PEAK) was developed in 2014 to provide a curriculum based on the principles of behavior analysis to be used with individuals with autism or other developmental challenges. In this paper, we review and critically examine research on the PEAK curriculum from its beginnings in 2014 to the present. In addition, we analyze what potential limitations remain in the current status of research, as well as identify possible future directions for PEAK research. To date, most existing research compares the PEAK Relational Training System to other valid and reliable measures of learner ability, as well as evaluates how the PEAK system can be used to instruct daily skills, across a variety of domains. The presentation concludes with practical recommendations for practitioners.



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