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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #181
CE Offered: BACB
Teaching Generalized Question Discrimination Skills to Children With Autism: Analysis and Application
Sunday, May 28, 2023
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 1
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Francesca Degli Espinosa, Ph.D.
Chair: Meral KOLDAS (Queen's University of Belfast)
Presenting Authors: : FRANCESCA DEGLI ESPINOSA (ABA Clinic)

Responding to questions regarding one's environment is a fundamental skill. In neuro-typical children, responding differentially to questions emerges before the age of two through interactions with caregivers, in which novel words are learned in the presence of both verbal and nonverbal stimuli. For children diagnosed with autism, however, such question discrimination skills can be significantly affected. An error frequently observed in clinical practice is that of the child who, despite previous mastery of the relevant colour tacts, says “Ball” when presented with a blue ball and the question “What colour?” Recently, a number of papers have explored the role of multiple verbal and nonverbal control in early intraverbal-tacting as a basis for language intervention with particular focus on autoclitic framing. This tutorial will first provide a theoretical analysis on multiply-controlled tacting; second, it will outline a framework for assessing discriminating questions on nonverbal (visual) stimuli; third, it will illustrate applied techniques to establish this skill.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Behaviour analysts, speech and language pathologists, educators

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe sources of multiple stimulus control in verbal behaviour; (2) describe procedures to establish generalised question discrimination on visual stimuli; (3) describe an instructional sequence to establish question discrimination skills regarding objects and events
I fell in love with behaviour analysis in 1996, when I began working as a tutor for a child with autism, and almost immediately I became interested in interventions that could both define and establish generalised learning: the ability to demonstrate novel responses within an operant class without each individual response having been previously reinforced. I was given the opportunity to explore this question when I worked as the Lead Clinician for the first UK-based EIBI outcome study (Remington et al., 2007), and within that context developed the Early Behavioural Intervention Curriculum (EBIC) as an intervention framework derived from functional analyses of language. This work subsequently formed the principal focus for my Doctoral thesis (2011). My clinical and research interests eventually settled, and continue to be, on advanced applications of contemporary analyses of verbal behaviour (Horne & Lowe, 1996; Michael, Palmer, & Sundberg, 2011) as a basis for teaching generalised verbal repertoires, and, thereby, as a means of minimising the need to teach specific individual verbal responses. Having spent the last 20 years travelling around the world teaching behaviour analysis, the pandemic lead to a reassessment of my core values. I currently live in the UK where I lead a rather quiet life with my family and two dogs that challenge my behavioural training on a daily basis. Professionally, I continue to provide diagnostic and evaluation services to families, and to support fellow behaviour analysts acquiring curriculum development skills through mentorship and online courses.



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