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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #39
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in Verbal Behavior
Saturday, May 28, 2022
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Room 258C
Area: VRB/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Alexis Constantin Pavlov (Marcus Autism Center)
Discussant: Alice Shillingsburg (May Institute)
CE Instructor: Alice Shillingsburg, Ph.D.

This symposium will comprise empirical and review studies focusing on the acquisition of verbal behavior across various domains including manding and tacting. We will begin with a literature review of critical components when conducting mand training. Next, we will hear about an empirical evaluation of two methods of teaching mand and tact responses, namely total communication and vocal alone training. Then, we will see data comparing the acquisition of different mand modalities (e.g., sign and picture exchange). Finally, we will close with a literature review on preferences between high- and low-tech mand modalities. This symposium will conclude with a discussion of the above work.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): manding, tacting, verbal behavior
Target Audience:

As this is at the basic instruction level, anyone is appropriate.

Learning Objectives: 1. Summarize the necessary components to mand training. 2. Understand how to assess various strategies to promote teaching a new verbal response. 3. Better understand how to use skills assessment to inform the selection of a mand modality for a given individual.
Searching for the Active Ingredients: A Review of the Critical Components in Mand Training Interventions
MEKA MCCAMMON (University of South Florida), Katie Wolfe (University of South Carolina), Aaron Check (University of South Carolina)
Abstract: Identifying the most effective methods for teaching young children to mand is clinically important. These methods should be both feasible and ecologically valid for applied settings and natural change agents. While mand training is a common intervention for children with autism there is a need for determining if procedures are consistent with Skinner’s (1957) conceptual analysis. Additional inquiry is necessary to identify which of these conceptual variables are included in intervention procedures for preschool-aged students and whether functional relations are demonstrated. In the present review, we identified 109 cases and 118 participants across 45 peer-reviewed studies and dissertations implementing mand training. We conducted a systematic descriptive analysis to summarize the extant literature and concluded that researchers variably incorporate the essential components of mand training. Specifically, most researchers account for the motivating operation in some way, but few take measures to ensure a motivating operation exists before providing response prompts. There are inconsistent patterns between the types of response prompts and other instructional procedures utilized, but researchers do not describe the processes for selecting these components. Finally, while researchers seldomly deliver conditioned reinforcers following the emission of the target response, more focus on assessing the evocative effect is necessary. These considerable implications for practice and conceptualization are discussed.

A Comparison Study of Total Communication Training and Vocal Alone Teaching Tacts With Individuals With Developmental Delays

HAILEE CATHERINE PEREZ (Bancroft), Tracy L. Kettering (Bancroft), Kellie P. Goldberg (Bancroft)

Total Communication (TC) consists of teaching both the manual sign and a vocalization for a targeted word originally described by Barrera and Sulzer-Azaroff (1983) and Sisson and Barret (1984). Very few studies have replicated these studies, with the exception of Carbone, Lewis, Sweeney-Kerwin, Dixon, Louden, and Quinn (2006). All three studies found that TC resulted in faster acquisition of the vocal verbal responses. In this study, we compared teaching vocal mand and tact responses to individuals with developmental delays by simultaneously prompting both a manual sign and a vocal response (i.e., TC condition) or by prompting the vocal responses only (i.e., vocal only condition). In both treatments, we utilized a vocal-verbal echoic prompt of the targeted word using a progressive prompt delay, and positive reinforcement for correct responses. Treatments were compared in an alternating treatments design. Trials to criterion were analyzed to determine the efficiency of each teaching procedure. Results were idiosyncratic, but minimal differences in acquisition were noted. Interestingly, individuals independently learned two responses (vocal and sign) in the TC condition, in the same amount of time it took for individuals to learn just the vocal response word in the vocal only condition.


Evaluation of a Mand Modality Assessment

COURTNEY MAUZY (University of Georgia), Courtney Hannula (Marcus Autism Center), Sarah Slocum (Marcus Autism Center and Emory School of Medicine)

Previous research indicates that a brief prerequisite skills assessment can help to inform which mand modality will be most efficient to teach (Valentino et al, 2019). The participants in the previous study did not have a history of using any particular mand modality before they participated. This study examined the utility of this prerequisite skills assessment and the rate of acquisition of each mand modality for participants who engage in problem behavior and may have had a short history using a particular modality as a part of their existing treatment for problem behavior. Preliminary results replicate that of previous research, indicating that picture exchange is the most effective and efficient modality for acquiring the target mand. For participants that exhibited problem behavior during the study, preliminary results show that the mand modality sessions that results in the highest rates of problem behavior include the modality that was less effective and efficient for acquiring the target mands.


Preference for High- and Low-Tech Augmentative and Alternative Communication Mand Modalities: A Review of the Literature and Current Outcome Data

ALEX PAULS (University of Iowa), Matthew O'Brien (The University of Iowa), Joel Eric Ringdahl (University of Georgia), Kelly M. Schieltz (University of Iowa), Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota)

An important step in developing an effective functional communication training (FCT) program is determining an appropriate mand modality to replace problem behavior. A number of user and modality factors are often considered, such as the response effort required for a particular modality, the history and proficiency of the user with a particular modality, and the user’s preference for each modality. Research on user preference suggests that mand modalities deemed high-preferred may lead to greater persistence of communication when a treatment challenge is encountered (e.g., extinction of mand response; Ringdahl et al., 2018); however, a review of the extant literature shows that most FCT studies do not report conducting mand preference assessments and there is some variability in procedures among those that do. This presentation will provide an overview of the existing research literature on mand modality preference assessments using high- and low-tech augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) options and provide a summary of published and unpublished data from a standardized mand preference assessment for individuals with disabilities. We will discuss the results in relation to previous research findings and in light of the limitations and gaps in the research to date.




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