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.


11th International Conference; Dublin, Ireland; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #121
CE Offered: BACB
Beyond Direct Instruction: Procedures Aimed to Support Emergent Responding and Observational Learning in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Saturday, September 3, 2022
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Meeting Level 1; Liffey A
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Mirela Cengher (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Discussant: Per Holth (OsloMet -- Oslo Metropolitan University)
CE Instructor: Per Holth, Ph.D.

To close the learning gap between most children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their neurotypical peers, it is essential to develop procedures that support emergent responding and observational learning. The first talk consists of a systematic literature review of studies that used equivalence-based instruction (EBI) to teach children various behaviors. The main focus was to identify the procedural parameters that yielded the best emergent behavior outcomes. The second talk describes a study that used EBI to teach children categories. The authors also taught the functions of one stimulus in each category, and children demonstrated transfer of function to untrained members of each category. The third talk describes a study that compared the simultaneous and sequential acquisition of tacts in two languages. In addition to evaluating the optimal order of learning tacts, the authors evaluated the emergence of bidirectional intraverbals and listener responses in two languages. The fourth talk describes two procedures to teach mands for information: one through direct instruction, and the other through observational learning. In this series of talks, the authors will focus on outlining the optimal procedures to promote emergent behavior when designing curricula for children with ASD. We will also outline recommendations for future research.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): foreign language, mands information, observational learning, stimulus equivalence
Target Audience:

Individuals who have completed the Master's coursework in behavior analysis.

Learning Objectives: (1) Identify the procedural parameters that yield the best emergent behavior outcomes. (2) Learn to use equivalence-based instruction to teach socially valid behaviors to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. (3) Identify the optimal procedures when teaching two languages to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder from bilingual households. (4) Learn to implement observational learning procedures to teach children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to mand for information.

Procedural Parameters in Equivalence-Based Instruction With Individuals Diagnosed With Autism

LESLEY A. SHAWLER (Southern Illinois University), Karina Zhelezoglo (California State University, Sacramento), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento), Denys Brand (California State University, Sacramento)

Equivalence-based instruction (EBI) has been an efficient and effective teaching methodology to establish equivalence class responding across a variety of academic skills in neurotypical adults. Although previous reviews confirmed the utility of EBI with participants with developmental disabilities, it is still unclear whether certain procedural parameters are associated with positive equivalence outcomes. We extend previous EBI reviews by categorizing studies that utilized EBI with individuals diagnosed with autism and assessed any correlations between procedural parameters and equivalence responding. A total of 29 studies with 91 participants met our inclusion criteria. The current results corroborate previous findings on the utility of EBI. Additionally, the training structure and the number of members per class achieved statistical significance. However, due to inconsistencies across studies employing different combinations of procedural parameters, it is difficult to determine which arrangement of training variables would yield the most successful equivalence outcomes. Recommendations for future research and directions will be discussed.


The Apple Is a Fruit that I Eat: Stimulus Class Formation and Transfer of Function in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

JOY CLAYBORNE (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Mirela Cengher (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Lesley A. Shawler (Southern Illinois University)

Previous research has confirmed the effectiveness of equivalence-based instruction (EBI), however, most studies have been conducted with adult participants teaching arbitrary stimulus classes. More research is needed to confirm the external validity of EBI with younger participants, teaching clinically significant skills in applied settings. The current study bridges those gaps. Specifically, our aims were 1) to use EBI procedures to teach preschool children with autism to form stimulus classes consisting of age-appropriate categories, and 2) to evaluate the effectiveness of transfer of function within these classes, and 3) to implement these procedures using easily accessible table-top procedures. This study is ongoing, and we expect it to confirm the efficacy of EBI with clinical populations in applied settings. The procedures are easily transportable to clinical settings given their practicality and accessibility. Finally, creating derived relations between stimuli and demonstrating transfer of function are important outcomes considering that the instruction most children with autism require can be time-consuming and costly. We will discuss implications for clinical practice and directions for future research.


Together or Separate: A Comparison of Simultaneous and Sequential Bilingualism in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

TIANJIAO LI (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Mirela Cengher (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Mariele Cortez (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)

This talk will discuss the optimal procedures to teach two languages for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from bilingual households. We compared the acquisition of tacts when (a) teaching two languages simultaneously, (b) teaching two languages sequentially, and (c) teaching one language only (control). We also evaluated the effects of the aforementioned teaching conditions on the maintenance of tacts. Finally, we evaluated the emergence of bidirectional intraverbals and listener responses following the acquisition of tacts. Overall, children learned tacts in the two languages simultaneously better than sequentially. Further, the longer the duration of the training, the better the maintenance. Finally, children demonstrated better bidirectional intraverbals when learning two languages simultaneously. These findings have direct implications for clinical practice. We will also discuss outline directions for future research.

Evaluation of Observational Learning on the Acquisition of Mands for Information Using “Who” and “Which” Questions
ANDRESA DE SOUZA (University of Missouri St. Louis), Videsha Marya (Endicott College; Village Autism Center), Alice Shillingsburg (Munroe-Meyer Institute, UNMC), Whitney Trapp (Hopebridge)
Abstract: The current study evaluated the acquisition of mands for information using “who” and “which” questions through observational learning in a pair of children with autism. An alternating treatments design was used to assess differentiated mands for information in the presence of establishing operation (EO) and abolishing operation (AO) conditions. As an extension to Shillingsburg et al. (2014), two children in a classroom setting were taught to mand for information under EO conditions. During baseline neither participant could mand for information using “who” or “which” questions to access information regarding the location of preferred items. Antecedent manipulations were used to teach Participant A to mand for information by asking “which,” while observational learning was evaluated for Participant B. Participant B was taught to mand for information by asking, “who” under the EO condition, while observational learning was evaluated for Participant A. Procedures resulted in the acquisition of the mands for “who” and “which” for both participants via direct teaching and observational learning in the EO present conditions and not in the AO conditions. These results extend the mands for information literature through the inclusion of observational learning strategies and provide evidence that differentiated mands can be acquired observationally.



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