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Association for Behavior Analysis International

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44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #522
CE Offered: BACB
Operant Learning Procedures to Train Eye Contact, Vocalizations, Joint Attention, and Social Referencing in Young Children With Autism
Monday, May 28, 2018
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Grand Hall C
Area: AUT/DEV
CE Instructor: Martha Pelaez, M.S.
Chair: Kat Monlux (Stanford University)
Discussant: Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
Abstract: We present a series of studies that evaluate operant learning procedures for early acquisition of social behaviors in three populations: infants at risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), children with ASD, and children with neurotypical development. This symposium extends the findings of Pelaez and colleagues (1996, 2011, 2012) by showcasing parent-training procedures where the caregivers implement the operant-learning principles of reinforcement. The first presenter highlights early behavioral markers for autism and the use of socially-mediated reinforcement procedures such as synchronized reinforcement to sustain infant eye contact (i.e., attention). The second presentation discusses procedures for increasing infant vocalizations and extends those findings to infants at risk of ASD. The third study compares two forms of social reinforcement on the acquisition of vocalizations as well as joint attention procedures with neurotypical infants. The fourth presentation reports on the acquisition of joint attention responses to three different types of caregiver bids in children with ASD. The discussant highlights the developmental sequencing of these social skills as well as prerequisite repertoires for early learning of communication and other more complex social skills like perspective taking. The operant procedures and the data reported have significant implications for future research and for effective interventions with children with ASD.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): at-risk, early intervention, social skills
Target Audience: Masters & PhD Level Students, Practitioners, and Researchers
Learning Objectives: 1. Understand and discuss studies that have investigated the role of operant reinforcement procedures in facilitating early social skills (e.g., eye contact, vocalizations, joint-attention, and social reinforcement) in typical, at-risk, and infants & children diagnosed with autism. 2. Understand and discuss the role of synchronized reinforcement in the acquisition and maintenance of eye contact in typical, at-risk, and infants and children diagnosed with autism. 3. Understand and discuss the differences between Motherese speech and vocal imitation in their roles in facilitating the acquisition and maintenance of early vocalization in typical, at-risk, and infants and children diagnosed with autism. 4. Understand and discuss the different types of joint-attention (e.g., initiated vs. responding), and the various "bids" that are targeted within operant reinforcement procedures to facilitate this skills in typical, at-risk, and infants and children diagnosed with autism. 5. Understand the difference between joint-attention and social referencing, and how these skills contribute to the development of more complex social skills in typical, at-risk, and infants and children diagnosed with autism.
 
A Parent Training Model for Increasing Eye Contact Among Infants at Risk of Autism
(Applied Research)
JACQUELINE CARROW (Caldwell University), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids), Hayley Neimy (Shabani Institute; Endicott College), Kat Monlux (Stanford University)
Abstract: Lower incidences of eye contact marks one of the first indicators of social disability in infancy. Parents are important contributors to infants early social development and can successfully increase engagement behaviors such as eye contact and positive affect with young children at risk of autism. This presentation reviews the at-risk literature indicating early behavioral markers, and discusses the use of socially-mediated reinforcement procedures to strengthen infant eye contact. The current study replicate and extends the findings of Pelaez and colleagues (1996), evaluating a parent training model where caregivers are taught an operant-learning procedure consisting of contingent smiling, verbal praise, and rhythmic touch to establish eye contact in the natural environment. The assumption is that teaching early social behaviors such as eye contact in young children can promote learning of otherprerequisiteskills required to develop complex social and communicative behaviors. Further, the importance of establishing contingencies of reinforcement during mother-child interactions are stressed.
 
Promoting Vocalizations in Infants at Risk of Autism via Parent Training and Social Reinforcement Procedures
(Applied Research)
HAYLEY NEIMY (Shabani Institute; Endicott College), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids), Jacqueline Carrow (Caldwell University), Kat Monlux (Stanford University)
Abstract: The emission of vocalizations during early infancy serves as the preverbal foundation for the development of subsequent complex language skills later in childhood. Research on interventions that facilitate the acquisition of these preverbal skills during infancy, and the subsequent extension of this methodology to at risk populations is discussed and conceptualized. The present research illustrates the use of two forms of contingent social reinforcement (vocal imitation and Motherese speech) delivered in a parent-training model, and their effects on increasing the overall rate of vocalizations in infants at risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The presenter concludes that establishing and increasing the rates of pre-verbal vocalizations during early infancy among infants at risk may help facilitate the development of more complex language and potentially mitigate the severity of language delays in later childhood.
 
Vocalizations and Joint Attention as a Function of Operant Learning Procedures in Neurotypical Infants
(Applied Research)
SUDHA RAMASWAMY (Mercy College), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University), Kat Monlux (Stanford University), Hayley Neimy (Shabani Institute; Endicott College), Jacqueline Carrow (Caldwell University)
Abstract: The present study examines the effectiveness of operant learning procedures on the emission of social responses, specifically the effectiveness of two forms of contingent social reinforcement (vocal imitation and Motherese speech) on increasing the overall rate of vocalizations and joint attention in neurotypical infants using an alternating treatments design across participants. The findings extend previously published efficacy of these two procedures in the training of vocalizations, joint attention and social referencing modeled after Pelaez and colleagues’ (2012) operant learning paradigm. Additionally, the study tests the effectiveness of operant learning procedures on the acquisition of joint attention responses in a multiple baseline design across participants. Further, a model for expanding the previous findings to the natural environment is proposed where vocalizations are taught first to aid in the acquisition of joint attention without the need for direct training of joint attention responses. Further, social referencing will also be discussed as a skill that can be taught using operant learning procedures. The results of the study provide valuable information about identifying reinforcers for social responses as well as the sequencing of behavior chains as they relate to the development of more complex social responses.
 
Increasing the Occurrence of Joint Attention Responses to Therapist-Initiated Bids Using Operant Learning Procedures in Children With Autism
(Applied Research)
NICOLE LUKE (Surrey Place Centre), Hanan Kulmiye (Surrey Place Centre), Cherisse Chin (Surrey Place Centre), Molly Slater (Surrey Place Centre)
Abstract: Replicating Neimy et al., (2017), five children diagnosed with autism ranging in age from 3-5 years old participated in a joint attention operant learning procedure. Using an ABAB reversal in a multiple baseline across participants design, three of the five children met mastery criterion for independent, correct responding. Joint attention responses were defined as first making eye contact with a therapist, switching their gaze to a novel object, and then returning their gaze to the therapist. In baseline conditions, children were exposed to different types of interactions with the therapist and the objects but were not provided any reinforcement nor any correction, regardless of their responses. In Treatment 1, three different bid types were used by the therapists: show, point, or engage. Responses were either reinforced or corrected. In Treatment 2, only one type of bid was used, the show bid. Responses were either reinforced or corrected. All five children showed evidence of differential responding during treatment conditions when compared to baseline conditions. Results are discussed in terms of the theory of joint attention and its importance as a prerequisite skill which is thought to be significant in terms of social and communicative development for all children.
 

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