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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #476
CE Offered: BACB
Establishing Critical Observing Responses Through Stimulus-Stimulus Pairing Procedures
Monday, May 25, 2020
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon C
Area: DEV/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Amy J. Davies Lackey (Manhattan Childrens Center)
Discussant: Shahad Alsharif (Teacher College, Columbia University )
CE Instructor: Shahad Alsharif, Ph.D.

The papers in this symposium involve teaching foundational verbal behavior skills to individuals with pre-speaker and pre-listener verbal levels utilizing stimulus-stimulus pairing procedures derived from Greer, Pistoljevic, Cahill, and Du (2011). The first paper will examine the role of conditioned reinforcement in learning to attend to faces and voices as well as the role of conditioned reinforcement for tracking objects in the emergence of joint attention. The second paper describes the effects of identical procedures on attending to faces and voices. The discussant highlights the developmental sequencing of these early verbal skills as well as prerequisite repertoires for early learning of communication and other more complex social skills such as perspective taking.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Graduate students, current Master's or Doctoral level practitioners in the field of behavior analysis


Conditioned Reinforcement of Faces, Voices, and Object Tracking to Induce Joint Attention in Young Children With Autism

SUDHA RAMASWAMY (Mercy College), Christine O'Rourke Lang (Mercy College)

Two experiments were conducted to test the effectiveness of conditioned reinforcement on inducing observing and joint attention responses in two children with autism. The dependent variables were 3 probes: 1) attending to voices and faces, 2) general observing responses in the classroom, and 3) joint attention to teacher-initiated bids. The experimenter conducted two experiments in a non-concurrent multiple probe design across participants who functioned at pre-listener/pre-speaker levels of verbal behavior. In the first experiment, all pre-probes demonstrated that the participants did not have faces, voices, object tracking or joint attending as a conditioned reinforcer. The independent variable for the first experiment was a conjugate reinforcement procedure which was a systematic replication of Greer, Pistoljevic, Cahill, and Du (2011) for faces and voices only. The results demonstrated that after the face/voice conditioning protocol was implemented, observing responses to faces and voices and general observing responses in the classroom increased for both participants but not for joint attention. A second experiment was subsequently conducted in which a conjugate reinforcement procedure was implemented to teach object tracking and induce joint attention.


Examining the Acquisition of Observing Responses Through Conditioned Reinforcement for Faces and Voices and the Emergence of Joint Attention

CHRISTINE A. O'ROURKE-LANG (Mercy College), Sudha Ramaswamy (Mercy College)

The following study sought to investigate the prerequisite repertoires associated with the emergence of joint attention in children with autism spectrum disorder. A multiple baseline design across participants was utilized, in a replication with modifications of Greer, Pistoljevic, Cahill, and Du (2011). The experimental variables included instructional procedures designed to teach the acquisition of conditioned reinforcement of adult faces and voices. The dependent measure involved participants’ observing responses in the natural environment, which was assessed through pre and post experimental probes. Joint attention was also probed prior to, during, and following the implementation of the independent variables such that potential emergence could be examined and measured. Results showed an increase in joint attention responses in post intervention probes as compared to baseline levels for participants, suggesting that the skill may be been induced through the acquisition of conditioned reinforcement for faces, and voices. Additionally, a functional relationship was demonstrated between the increase in the emission of participants’ observing responses and the implementation of conditioning procedures for faces and voices The findings of the study provide information that can help support the development of joint attention in individuals with autism spectrum and the identification of the repertoires that may be essential in its emergence.




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