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 #249
CE Offered: BACB
Communication-Based Interventions: Refinements and Extensions
Sunday, May 27, 2018
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Grand Hall A
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Megan A. Boyle (Missouri State University)
Discussant: Tyra P. Sellers (Utah State University)
CE Instructor: Megan A. Boyle, Ph.D.

Establishing an appropriate mand repertoire is an important first step during interventions for individuals with challenging behavior, complex communication needs, or both. Although mands are the most frequently studied verbal operant from the functional taxonomy proposed by B.F. Skinner (Sautter & LeBlanc, 2006), much is still unknown about the instructional circumstances that are critical to their acquisition and maintenance. The first talk describes research that compared the efficiency with which practitioners might bring established mands under discriminative control (via multiple schedules) while maintaining low levels of problem behavior using arbitrary or naturalistic stimuli. The second talk in this symposium describes a study which evaluated the probability of mand acquisition during a modified functional communication training (FCT) program in which instruction was only provided when functional reinforcers were abolished. The third talk describes the antecedents and consequences necessary to bring mands for "when" under appropriate environmental control and highlights a training protocol that incorporated these variables into an effective intervention for three participants. The final talk describes research which evaluates the effectiveness of a training protocol designed to teach care providers to implement discrimination training with high fidelity. The symposium ends with a discussion that synthesizes emergent themes.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Challenging behavior, Communication training, Mands
Target Audience:

Master's and doctoral-level practitioners and researchers

Learning Objectives: 1. Learn how to incorporate naturally occurring stimuli into FCT 2. Learn how to incorporate caregivers into FCT 3. Learn various methods of thinning reinforcement schedules following FCT

Comparison of Naturalistic and ArrangedDiscriminative StimuliDuring Schedule Thinning Following Functional Communication Training

MEGAN A. BOYLE (Missouri State University), Kara Forck (Missouri State University), Kaitlin Curtis (Missouri State University), Brittany Fudge (Missouri State University)

Following FCT, it is common to thin the schedule of reinforcement through a multiple schedule in which components are signaled via "arranged," or arbitrary, SDs. For example, colored cards are often used to signal SD and S-delta periods. A few published studies have also reported the use of "naturalistic," or socially valid SDs, including caregivers talking on the phone ("busy") and caregivers reading ("not busy") (Kuhn, Chirighin, & Zelenka, 2010; Leon, Hausman, Kahng, & Becraft, 2010; Shamlian et al., 2016). Even fewer have reported comparisons between the types of schedule-thinning stimuli (cf. Shamlian et al., 2016). The current study replicates and extends the schedule-thinning literature by comparing rates of mand differentiation and problem behavior during schedule thinning following FCT with arranged and naturalistic SDs with a child with autism. The current study will also replicate procedures used by Betz, Fisher, Roane, Mintz, and Owen (2013) by evaluating the extent to which arranged and naturalistic SDs facilitate rapid schedule thinning (i.e., increasing the duration of S-delta periods without gradual thinning).

Evaluating the Effect of Establishing Operations on Response Acquisition During Functional Communication Training
JOSEPH MICHAEL LAMBERT (Vanderbilt University), Jessica Torelli Roane (Vanderbilt University), Nealetta Houchins-Juarez (Vanderbilt University), Savannah Tate (Vanderbilt University), Jessica Lee Paranczak (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: Previous applied research has shown that independent manding is not likely emerge when functional communication training (FCT) is implemented in conjunction with dense schedules of noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) but does emerge when it is implemented after NCR schedules have been leaned. One interpretation of these data may be that clients are unlikely to acquire mands when functional reinforcers are abolished and that FCT is optimally effective in the presence of relevant establishing operations (EO). However, it is also possible that participants learned mand-consequence relations during FCT + NCR but only demonstrated learned relations when it became necessary to do so; the first time that both discriminative stimuli and EOs were simultaneously present. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether indepedendent manding would emerge during no-prompt probes (i.e., when therapeutic contingencies were enforced but not trained) following training sessions that exclusively occurred in contexts in which functional consequences were abolished as reinforcers.

Teaching the Mand, "When?" to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

TALIA CRABB (Caldwell University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), April N. Kisamore (Caldwell University), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell University)

Children with autism spectrum disorders struggle with many verbal operants, including mands, and especially mands for information, as the relevant consequence is not an immediate tangible stimulus. The purpose of this study was to extend the work of Shillingsburg et al. (2011), Somers et al. (2014), and Landa et al. (2017) by teaching three children with autism spectrum disorder to mand, "when?" under appropriate antecedent and consequence control. In other words, the current study sought to teach children to request information in appropriate and relevant contexts. Trials were alternated between previously mastered mands for information, AO (item), AO (information), and EO conditions across 5 unavailability statements, 17 items, multiple instructors, and multiple settings. All three participants learned to mand, "when?" under appropriate antecedent control and demonstrated generalization with novel instructors and in natural situations. Other mands for information (i.e., "where?") were maintained. Recommendations for future research on manding for information will be discussed.

Parent-Implemented Multiple Schedules
CLAUDIA CAMPOS (University of South Florida), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), Anna Garcia (University of South Florida), Jennifer Rebecca Weyman (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) is a commonly used treatment for individuals who engage in severe problem behavior. Functional communication training, however, has some limitations in application. Individuals may engage in the communication response at high rates and during inappropriate situations, leading to responses being unreinforced by parents and caregivers in the natural environment. Multiple schedules have been used to thin the schedules of reinforcement within the context of FCT because they maintain appropriate levels of the communication response and low levels of problem behavior by establishing stimulus control over the appropriate response. Multiple schedules have been implemented in a variety of settings and by different trainers. However, to date, no research study has trained parents to implement multiple schedules. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to train parents to use multiple schedules consisting of fixed ratio (FR 1) / extinction (EXT) components to thin schedules of reinforcement in children with developmental and intellectual disabilities.



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