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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Poster Session #102
VRB Saturday Poster Session: Even-Numbered Posters
Saturday, May 28, 2022
2:00 PM–3:00 PM
Exhibit Level; Exhibit Hall A
Chair: Sarah A. Lechago (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
92. An Extension of Analyses of Verbal Operants: Identifying the Functions of Perseverative Speech
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
SAGAR PATEL (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Michelle A. Frank-Crawford (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Nicole Hausman (Journey Autism & Behavioral Care Centers), Melissa Theodore (May Institute ), Margaret Cavanaugh (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: Sarah A. Lechago (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Abstract: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) commonly display repetitive forms of language concentrated on singular subjects, often referred to as perseverative speech. Perseverations may be mediated by environmental variables, such as social attention (e.g., Rehfeldt & Chambers, 2003). Children with limited vocabulary skills may also perseverate on preferred items in an attempt to request, or mand for, appetitive stimuli (Gilliam et al, 2013). Individuals with excessive perseverative speech may have difficulty developing adaptive skills and such perseverations may be disruptive in social interactions (Kuntz, Santos, & Kennedy, 2019). Understanding perseverations within the scope of verbal behavior can aid in understanding communication deficits and building appropriate, adaptive communication. The current study extends the analysis of verbal operants exhibited by individuals with disabilities (e.g., Lerman et al., 2005) by examining the functions of perseverative speech of a young boy diagnosed with ASD who also had a limited expressive language repertoire. While his verbal behavior was excessive and his responses appeared to be repetitive and similar topographically, results of the analysis revealed that they were actually functionally independent and differed in slight, but important ways. This information was used to develop an intervention designed to increase other aspects of his functional speech.
94. Effects of Fluency Training on Conditional Discrimination and Emergent Relations Across Verbal Operants
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
FAYE SIMPSON (Endicott College), Sarah Jarakji (Ball State University), Jessica Piazza (Endicott College), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation; Endicott College), Lisa Tereshko (Endicott College)
Discussant: Sarah A. Lechago (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Abstract: The overall goal of the current study is to evaluate the effects of using fluency based instruction, a technique that measures how quickly and accurately an individual can respond to specific information asked, on one area of language development and indirectly impact other related language areas. Fluency based instruction involves reflecting on the individuals rate of responding and provides reinforcement and rewards contingent on emitting fast and accurate responses (Fienup & Doepke, 2008). More specifically, the purpose of the current study is to examine the relation between listener and speaker behavior. The experimenter will evaluate the efficacy of using fluency-based instruction to teach students with autism, who do not predominately use verbal speech to communicate their needs, wants, desires, or use verbal speech to label and describe items and actions within the world around them, to receptively identify pictures of common nouns (people, places, emotions, animal, common items seen in home, community, and school) in rapid and fluent order when asked. The experimenter will pair American Sign Language (ASL) and verbal speech to ask for the subject to identify specific pictures of common nouns people, places, emotions, animal, common items seen in home, community, and school) within 1 minute. Following intervention, the experimenter will test the participants indirectly learned how to label the pictures taught during fluency training using no, partial, or fully emitted verbal language or ASL signs.
96. Programmed Equivalence Based Self-Instruction (PEBI) to Teach Behavior Analytic Concepts
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
LAUREN A ALIBERTE (Salem State University), OLGA SIRBU (Salem State University), Darlene E. Crone-Todd (Salem State University), Catherine Salvetti (Salem State University), Jurnee Dunn (Salem State University)
Discussant: Sarah A. Lechago (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Abstract: Complex, higher order thinking skills are expected of university students; one measure of such complexity is the extent to which appropriate intraverbals are developed. While most courses rely on reading and lecture or discussion, the use of programmed self-instruction modules (PSIM) may also benefit learners. PSIM sequences frames with fill ins of 1-2 words each within larger modules to learn material. The question is how best to sequence material, and incorporate equivalence based instruction (EBI) into lectures and online formats. In this poster, two studies are reported in which programmed self-instruction designed through EBI (PEBI) was used to teach either operant reinforcement or prompting concepts and procedures. Undergraduate participants (n = 6) completed a pre-test, the respective online PEBI modules, post-test, and post-assessment surveys. The dependent measures include (a) percentage of correct fill-in and generative answers on pre- and post-tests; (b) latency and cumulative latency for correct responses; (c) and number of trials/frames to mastery criteria within modules. The results of this study indicate that the PEBI system can be used to teach these concepts, and most of the participants’ scores increased on the post-tests versus the pre-tests. While preliminary, this method shows promise for future studies using PEBI.

Evaluation of a contingency-based assessment of vocal production in a neurotypical learner

Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
PIPPIN LENFESTEY (Kennedy Krieger Institute; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Matthew L. Edelstein (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: Sarah A. Lechago (University of Houston-Clear Lake)

Functional Communication Training (FCT) is a function-based intervention designed to increase socially-acceptable communicative responses through differential reinforcement. A wealth of research supports its effectiveness across a variety of populations, including those with diagnoses of autism, intellectual disability, adaptive functioning deficits, and severe problem behavior. Despite clear evidence regarding the effectiveness of FCT, research on procedural variations is needed for individuals with pre-existing vocal communication repertoires, moderate and mild behavioral concerns, and those with high incidence disabilities such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and learning disorders. The current investigation seeks to expand best practice to broaden the applicability of procedures consistent with functional communication training to benefit novel clinical populations. Authors evaluated an assessment designed to systematically analyze socially mediating variables thought to impact the verbal repertoire of a typically developing 3-year-old patient with a history of challenging behavior. Assessment procedures created evocative contexts to evaluate social variables hypothesized to contribute to the learner’s vocal utterances. Results of the assessment revealed that approximately 20% of the patient’s communication repertoire was unintelligible, thereby increasing her risk of developing challenging behavior. Implications for preventative, function-based treatment procedures are discussed.




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