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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Symposium #249
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advancements in Skill Acquisition Programming and Clinical Problem Solving
Sunday, May 28, 2023
5:00 PM–6:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4A/B
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Landon Cowan (Marquette University)
Discussant: Tom Cariveau (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
CE Instructor: Landon Cowan, M.A.
Abstract: Behavior analysts regularly design and implement interventions to teach individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) numerous skills; however, intervention strategies for teaching relatively more complex skills are still emerging and in need of refinement. Additionally, few resources exist to guide behavior analysts in engaging in problem solving when barriers to learning emerge while teaching these skills. This symposium will describe four studies examining practices and future directions for the development of efficacious and efficient skill-acquisition procedures. The first presentation will describe the impact of different forms of visual stimuli used during training impacted generalization to untrained stimuli. The second presentation will describe the outcomes of a teaching procedure designed to teach learners to mand for information across operants. The third presentation will describe an intervention designed to teach learners to respond differentially to examples and non-examples of bullying. The fourth presentation will describe a clinical problem-solving model that can be used to identify and address barriers to learning that occur in skill acquisition programs. To end, the discussant will review the findings in each presentation and consider areas for future research.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Bullying, Generalization, Problem Solving, Verbal Behavior
Target Audience: The target audience for this symposium will be students, researchers, and practitioners that are interested in the study and application of skill-acquisition procedures with individuals receiving applied behavior analytic intervention services. Attendees should be familiar with common procedures and components commonly included in intervention services, such as those used in discrete trial instruction.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the impacts of different visual stimuli on generalization outcomes; (2) describe intervention procedures to promote generalization across operants; (3) identify at least one instructional strategy for teaching individuals how to respond to and report bullying; (4) describe at least one step of systematic clinical problem solving.

When Red Apples Are Green: Generalization by Picture Type

KELSEY FLYNN BURREN (New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Chata A. Dickson (New England Center for Children)

For individuals with complex communication needs, learned relations between pictorial stimuli and their referents can serve as the basis for communication. One young man with autism participated in this study investigating whether the form of visual stimuli used in training object-to-picture matching would affect accuracy of responding to untrained variations of those objects. Matching between objects and 2-dimensional stimuli was trained and assessed with color photos, black and white photos, black and white line drawings, and written words. A parallel treatments design compared the number of teaching trials required to reach the mastery criterion and the accuracy of responding to novel variations of the object. Color photos resulted in more efficient mastery and more accurate responding to a wider array of novel stimuli. When novel objects differed in size or shape, selection of the corresponding comparison stimulus was most likely with color photos. However, when novel objects differed in color, selection of the appropriate comparison stimulus was more likely with black and white photos or line drawings. These preliminary data suggest that for some individuals with autism, the degree of similarity between pictures and corresponding target objects may influence acquisition of the stimulus relations needed for communicating.


Teaching Children With Autism to Mand for Information Across Tact and Intraverbal Operants

DESIREE DAWSON (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Nicole M. Rodriguez (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Jamie Gilmore-Black (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Michael A. Aragon (Behavioral Learning Network)

We replicated and extended research teaching children with autism to mand for information (e.g., Ingvarsson and Hollobaugh, 2019) by evaluating transfer of the “I don’t know please tell me” (IDKPTM) response across operants. We used a progressive prompt delay and echoic prompts to teach two school-aged boys and one school-aged girl with autism to mand for information when presented with unknown questions (intraverbals) and unknown pictures (tacts). Sessions consisted of three known targets intermixed with six unknown targets, only three of which were exposed to the teaching procedures. For all participants, we saw generalization of IDKPTM within but not across operants. All participants required some exposure, albeit brief, to direct prompting and reinforcing of the correct answer following presentation of the initial question. Upon returning to a delayed prompt to the mand for information, all participants acquired the target intraverbals and tacts based on the therapists answers to their mands for information. Ivan and Bonnie did not need this additional exposure to prompting and reinforcement to the correct answer in the subsequent operant whereas Xander did. Although generalization of the IDKPTM response was observed within operant, acquisition after acquiring this mand for information in the baseline condition differed across participants.


Teaching Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder to Respond Differentially to Examples and Non-Examples of Bullying

BIANCÉ JASMINE FERRUCCI (Marquette University ), Landon Cowan (Marquette University), Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University), Jessi Reidy (Marquette University), Paige Wortman (Marquette University), Ashley Van Handel (Marquette University), Lauren Casper (Marquette University), Brittany Brown (Marquette University)

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely than their neurotypical peers to experience bullying at some point in their lives. Previous research has taught individuals with ASD to respond to statements of bullying using behavioral skills training (BST) and in-situ training; however, there is limited research on teaching individuals to respond differentially to examples and non-examples of bullying. The purpose of the current study was to teach individuals with ASD to respond differentially to examples and non-examples of bullying in short video clips. Specifically, we included close non-examples and far non-examples of bullying in the training. Following limited generalization of responding to untrained exemplars, we also taught participants to specifically tact exemplars as either bullying or non-bullying. Results of the current study extend the literature on teaching individuals to respond to bullying using video stimuli while including both close and far non-examples.

A Problem-Solving Model for Identifying and Addressing Barriers to Learning in Skill-Acquisition Programs
LANDON COWAN (Marquette University), Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University), Jessi Reidy (Marquette University), Marisa E. McKee (Marquette University), Laura Biwer (Marquette University), Kirsten Lloyd (Marquette University)
Abstract: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for learners with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other intellectual and developmental disabilities frequently involve teaching a variety of skills, such as those related to communication, daily-living, and safety. There is an extensive literature available demonstrating effective instructional procedures (e.g., discrete-trial teaching, prompt-fading strategies) as well as procedural or environmental modifications that clinicians can apply when teaching these skills; however, minimal literature exists to guide clinicians in applying these procedures when learners encounter a barrier to learning. Thus, it is unclear what systematic methods (if any) clinicians are using to determine efficacious and efficient instructional modifications. The current study demonstrates the application of a problem-solving model- which considers barriers caused by skill- and performance-deficits- with two learners with ASD to identify and subsequently address barriers to learning on current acquisition goals. Results suggest the efficacy of using a problem-solving approach to skill-acquisition program modifications to improve learner outcomes.



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