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.

  • AAB: Applied Animal Behavior

    AUT: Autism

    BPH: Behavioral Pharmacology

    CBM: Clinical/Family/Behavioral Medicine

    CSE: Community Interventions, Social and Ethical Issues

    DDA: Developmental Disabilities

    DEV: Behavioral Development

    EAB: Experimental Analysis of Behavior

    EDC: Education

    TBA: Teaching Behavior Analysis

    TPC: Theoretical, Philosophical, and Conceptual Issues

Fourth International Conference; Australia, 2007

Program by Continuing Education Events: Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Manage My Personal Schedule


Invited Paper Session #49
CE Offered: BACB

Why Tolerance to Cocaine's Effects on Fixed-Interval Performance is Different from That on Fixed-Ratio Performance

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Area: BPH; Domain: Experimental Analysis
CE Instructor: Marc N. Branch, Ph.D.
Chair: Kennon A. Lattal (West Virginia University)
MARC N. BRANCH (University of Florida)
Dr. Marc Branch has conducted impressive and definitive research in a number of areas related to basic operant conditioning, including memory, observing behavior, and reinforcement schedules. He is best known for directing one of the country's leading programs in behavioral pharmacology. He and his students have conducted a long line of research on agents such as pentobarbital, d-amphetamine, and cocaine, and on environmental factors that influence drug tolerance. This work has been funded continuously for 30 years by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and has been published in the flagship journals in both behavior analysis and pharmacology. In recognition of this consistent track record of excellence, he has been the recipient of a coveted research career award from NIMH. Dr. Branch has held a number of leadership positions in our field, including president of ABA International and Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, editor of Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and The Behavior Analyst, and either member or chair of study sections for the past 25 years. He is a Fellow in both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society.

Previous research has revealed that tolerance to cocaine's effects on behavior under fixed-ratio (FR) schedules depends on the FR parameter. In contrast, tolerance to the drug's effects on behavior under fixed-interval schedules has been unrelated to FI parameter. Although FI and FR schedules with equivalent inter-reinforcement times result in roughly equivalent average post-reinforcement pause times, the distributions of pauses differ. Specifically, the conditional probability of ending the pause grows with time on FI schedules, but remains constant on FR schedules, a difference that may be related to the fact that longer pauses on FI schedules are associated with shorter delays to reinforcement, whereas that relation does not exist for FR schedules. To test whether that difference plays a role in the FI-FR difference in drug effects, pigeons were trained under a response-initiated FI schedule, wherein the FI starts timing when the pause ends. Under those conditions, tolerance was related to FI parameter.

Symposium #52
CE Offered: BACB
Descriptive and Experimental Analyses of Critical Components of EIBI for Children with ASDs
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
8:00 AM–9:20 AM
L2 Room 5
Area: AAB/VRB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: William H. Ahearn (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: William H. Ahearn, Ph.D.

This symposium will discuss critical components of effective early intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders. There will be four presentations of descriptive or experimental analyses of variables related to providing effective treatment. Doreen Granpeesheh will present two case studies of children with ASDs who have achieved typical or near-typical functioning through early intensive behavioral intervention. Rick Graff will discuss variables related to reinforcing behavior. Effective reinforcement is critically related to accurately identifying events that children prefer. Graff and colleagues compared a childs verbal report of their preferences to assessments that involved varying access to those events. They also surveyed parents of children with ASDs about their childs preferences and compared this to assessments the parents subsequently conducted with them. Bill Ahearn will then present analyses of delayed echolalia and appropriate vocal verbal behavior. An emphasis will be placed on the effects of tact training on appropriate and inappropriate vocal responses. He will then discuss social motivational deficits of children with autism and some of the difficulties these present for the child once they have learned to communicate. Several measures of social preference and joint attention-related behavior will be presented for typically developing children and children with autism.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention for Children with Autism: Case Studies of Optimal Outcome.
JONATHAN J. TARBOX (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Rachel S. F. Tarbox (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Mary Ann Cassell (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
Abstract: Green (2002) identified the need for detailed case studies of the effects of early intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism, at the level of the individual client. This presentation describes the course and outcome of such intervention for two young children who achieved optimal outcomes. Direct behavioral measures and results of standardized, age-normed assessment indicate substantial improvements in language, social behavior, and adaptive functioning, to near-typical or typical ranges, across domains. Keywords: early intensive behavioral intervention, outcomes, autism
Skill Acquisition in Individuals with Autism: The Importance of Accurate Identification of Reinforcers.
RICHARD B. GRAFF (New England Center for Children), Theresa Cerrone (New England Center for Children), Jennifer Keras (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: In order to maximize skill acquisition in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), effective reinforcers must be used. First, data will be presented suggesting that many teachers and clinicians working with individuals with ASD rely on self-report or caregiver opinion to identify potential reinforcers. Next, data will be presented demonstrating that some individuals with ASD cannot effectively communicate which items they prefer, and that caregiver opinion may not identify an individual’s most potent reinforcers. In Study 1, verbal and tangible preference assessments were compared in 4 preschoolers with ASD. In the tangible assessment, on each trial two stimuli were placed in front of the participant; in the verbal assessment, participants were asked, “Do you want x or y”. The two assessments identified the same most- and least-preferred item for only 2 of 4 participants, suggesting that self-report may not accurately identify preferred stimuli. In Study 2, parents of 8 children with autism were asked to rank their child’s most potent reinforcers. Next, parents conducted systematic preference assessments with their children. Results indicated that only 1 of 8 parents accurately predicted their child’s most preferred item. Results are discussed in terms of the need for accurate reinforcer identification for skill acquisition.
Vocal Stereotypy, Requesting, and Commenting: From Purely Vocal to Vocal Verbal Behavior.
WILLIAM H. AHEARN (New England Center for Children), Kathleen M. Clark (New England Center for Children), Jessica Masalsky (New England Center for Children), Sarah Kingery (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: This presentation will discuss both undesirable vocal behavior and desirable vocal verbal behavior of children with autism. Delayed and immediate echolalia are frequently encountered in this population. This presentation will describe assessment and treatment of delayed echolalia. First, methods for assessing, and functional hypotheses of, vocal stereotypy will be described. Systematic, experimental analyses imply that vocal stereotypy can serve various functions for the child with autism but the most common function of vocal stereotypy is the production of sensory stimulation. Along with the putative function of the vocal stereotypy for several children with autism, successful intervention strategies will be described. The primary focus will be on response interruption and redirection (RIRD). Next, forms of appropriate vocal verbal behavior that emerge during redirection will be described. Among the appropriate vocal verbal responses that have been observed are mands or requests. Mands are often the most common forms of vocal verbal behavior freely emitted by children with autism. However, specific training procedures can foster the development of tacts or comments. The procedures that produced prompted and spontaneous vocal verbal behavior will be analyzed. Finally, some implications of these investigations on the nature of autism spectrum disorders will be forwarded.
Social Motivational Deficits for Children with ASDs: Social Preference and Joint Attention Responding.
WILLIAM H. AHEARN (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: This presentation will discuss autism as a deficit in social functioning due to genetic inheritance and environmental experience. It is thought that autism is prenatally determined and is the product of abnormal brain growth regulation. Supporting research will be briefly reviewed. Aspects of communicative impairment, play, and other social skill deficits, considered characteristic of autism, will then be conceptually analyzed. This conceptual analysis will be based on descriptive and experimental analyses of behavior. Some of the data presented will include assessments of children’s preferences for social interaction, assessment of preference for social stimuli (e.g., hugs, praise, hi-fives) and descriptive analyses of joint attention responding and initiation. Several studies of play taught through video modeling will also be briefly discussed. The practical implications of these analyses will be outlined and a theory of abnormal development that leads to the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder will be suggested.
Symposium #53
CE Offered: BACB
Disseminating Behavior Analysis through Community Outreach: Three Effective and Efficient Strategies for Making a Difference
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
8:00 AM–9:20 AM
L4 Room 1
Area: CSE/TBA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Jennifer L. Austin (California State University, Fresno)
Discussant: Joseph E. Morrow (Applied Behavior Consultants)
CE Instructor: Jennifer L. Austin, Ph.D.

Effective dissemination of behavior analysis has always been a problem for our field. Although marketing mistakes might account for some of these difficulties, exploration of more basic issues might be warranted before tackling our historical PR problems. Three key issues seem to elucidate the scope of the problem: 1) many people do not know that the field of behavior analysis exists; 2) those who do know that the field exists are often confused about our nature and scope; 3) those who understand the benefits of our science often do not have access to our services. For all three problems, a common outcome is that those who could benefit most from behavior analysis are not afforded the opportunities to realize those benefits. This session will present three potential options for addressing these problems. Specifically, it will address three specific strategies for increasing knowledge about and access to behavior analytic services.

Spreading the Word without Using the Words: Community Outreach Conferences as a Mechanism for Informing Laypersons about Behavior Analysis.
JENNIFER L. AUSTIN (California State University, Fresno)
Abstract: In a market flooded with non-empirical strategies for behavior change, dissemination of factual information about what “works” is more important than ever. This presentation will address the process and outcomes of organizing behavior analytic conferences for lay audiences as a mechanism for disseminating accurate information. It will cover such important issues as developing conference programs that fit with the needs of the community, selecting speakers who are likely to be good PR agents for ABA, marketing the conference to the people who could most benefit from attending, and ensuring reinforcing experiences for conference attendees. Descriptive data derived from conference attendees will be shared to elucidate some challenges for dissemination.
Family-Based Behavior Analysis: Positive Parenting Classes to Increase Access to Resources.
CRISS WILHITE (California State University, Fresno)
Abstract: In Central California, parents of children with disabilities have access to a nine-week behavior analytic parent training course. A state-funded agency that provides services to the disabled contracts with the local state university to provide the service. Parents attend six classes taught by a graduate student in Applied Behavior Analysis while their children are being cared for in other rooms by the program supervisor and undergraduate behavior analysis students. Each parent also has a student intern to help with individual questions, program design and homework. Three home visits are made by the intern and a childcare worker familiar with the client child to ensure the principles and techniques learned in class are generalizing to the home. Classes are offered in English and Spanish with user friendly materials provide in both languages.
Fresno State Autism Research and Treatment Center: Reaching out to a Community in Need.
AMANDA N. ADAMS (California State University, Fresno)
Abstract: This presentation will describe Fresno State’s center-based program for young children with autism. The goals of this program are threefold: 1) to provide the community with outstanding behavior analysis programs for children with ASD; 2) to provide excellent training and experience in behavioral treatment for children with autism to undergraduate and graduate students; 3) to conduct and promote active research in best practices for behavioral treatment for autism. This presentation will highlight the process for developing the program and describe how such programs can be mutually beneficial to communities and service providers. Specific attention will be given to factors that present challenges to development and service delivery, such as working with diverse cultural and socio-economic populations, acquiring resources from existing human service agencies, and developing services in non-urban areas.
Symposium #54
CE Offered: BACB
Judging Evidence of Treatment Efficacy in Scientific Literature on Low Incidence Populations
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
8:00 AM–9:20 AM
L2 Room 3
Area: TPC; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Howard Goldstein (Florida State University)
Discussant: Cameron J. Camp (Myers Research Institute)
CE Instructor: Howard Goldstein, Ph.D.

Information clearinghouses, professional organizations, and government agencies have developed criteria to identify Evidence-Based Practices. Three presenters will discuss applications of those criteria. Goldstein will discuss why different stakeholders (i.e., interventionists, client-consumers, policy makers, and scientists) propose different evaluation criteria and why single subject design research has been largely ignored. He will introduce a set of criteria that have general applicability to group and single-subject experimental designs and illustrate its application to47 articles investigating social skills interventions for preschoolers with autism. Results will be summarized using a Consumer Reports format. Dr. Green will focus on the development of the National Autism Centers rating scheme used to develop evidence-based guidelines for behavioral interventions for autism. Application is illustrated using research on "Applied Verbal Behavior" techniques. Dr. Bourgeois will discuss the application of a set of guidelines to evaluate evidence for behavioral treatments for adult neurogenic disorders (i.e., dementia, traumatic brain injury, aphasia). She will discuss shortcomings of current evaluation systems and propose an alternative that will more adequately reflect the empirical support for interventions in the area of dementia in particular. Dr. Camp will offer perspectives on the state of intervention research on low incidence populations in his role as discussant.

Application of a Consumer Reports Evaluation of Social Skills Interventions in Autism.
HOWARD GOLDSTEIN (Florida State University)
Abstract: A variety of information clearinghouses, professional organizations, and government agencies have developed criteria to judge Evidence-Based Practices (EBP). It is important to consider why different stakeholders might select different evaluation criteria and perhaps why there has been a tendency to ignore single subject experimental design research. How perspectives are expected to differ among interventionists, client-consumers, policy makers, and scientists will be discussed. The presentation will introduce a set of criteria that have general applicability to experimental research. These criteria can be used to judge empirical support associated with various intervention strategies used with different populations. A set of 14 criteria were developed to evaluate single-subject and group experimental designs according to: (a) Experimental design characteristics, (b) Measurement and reliability, (c) Evaluation of treatment effects, and (d) External validity dimensions. A good deal of literature has reported interventions targeting social and communication skills in preschoolers with autism. Use of this EBP system will be illustrated through an examination of 47 articles investigating social skills interventions in this population. Results of this review will be summarized and tables using a Consumer Reports format will illustrate the adequacy of the studies across the dimensions rated. Applicability to various stakeholder groups will be discussed.
Promoting Inclusion of Behavior Analytic Research in Evidence-Based Guidelines for Autism Intervention.
GINA GREEN (San Diego State University)
Abstract: Many protocols for developing evidence-based practice guidelines exclude evidence from behavior analytic studies. To date, the few guidelines that have incorporated such evidence have been based on evaluations of only limited aspects of single-case studies, or have included only studies that met formulaic criteria regarding design. Most neglected the essential components of measurement and clear demonstration of functional relations. This paper describes a comprehensive method for evaluating single-case studies that is consistent with behavior analytic research methods as defined by Sidman (1960) and Johnston and Pennypacker (1993) as well as contemporary research on autism treatment. The strength of the evidence produced by each study is inferred from quantitative ratings of each of the following components: design, measurement of the dependent variable, measurement of the independent variable, participant ascertainment, treatment effect, and generality of treatment effect. This rating scheme has been proposed for use in the National Autism Center’s project to develop evidence-based guidelines for behavioral and educational interventions for autism. Application of the rating scheme is illustrated using research on "Applied Verbal Behavior" techniques. Possibilities for using the rating scheme to improve behavior analytic research and to promote wider acceptance of behavior analytic research methods are discussed.
Evaluating Evidence for Behavioral Treatments of Individuals with Neurological Impairments.
MICHELLE S. BOURGEOIS (Florida State University)
Abstract: The application of a set of guidelines to evaluate evidence for behavioral treatments for adult neurogenic disorders (i.e., dementia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), aphasia) will be presented. In 2001, an ad hoc committee of the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences proposed to develop evidence-based practice guidelines for the management of communication disorders in individuals with neurological impairments individuals. To date, comprehensive reviews of the treatment literature in the areas of aphasia, dementia, dysarthria, and traumatic brain injury have been published in the Journal of Medical Speech Language Pathology. The paucity of randomized control trials studies with these clinical populations, and the rejection of single-subject studies as unable to index treatment efficacy (Robey and Schultz, 1998), are the reasons why the endorsement of most of the current treatment approaches for these populations are limited. The shortcomings of current evaluations systems will be outlined and an alternative approach that will more adequately reflect the empirical support for interventions in the area of dementia in particular will be offered.
Invited Paper Session #56
CE Offered: BACB

Behavioral Contingency Analysis and Human Affairs: A New Discipline?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Area: DEV; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Francis Mechner, Ph.D.
Chair: David C. Palmer (Smith College)
FRANCIS MECHNER (The Mechner Foundation)
Dr. Francis Mechner Born in Vienna, Mechner received his doctorate from Columbia University in 1957 under Keller and Schoenfeld, and then continued in the department as lecturer in experimental psychology until 1960. He developed the “counting schedule” and schedules for time estimation, and built a computerized psychopharmacology laboratory at Schering Corporation that featured the use of “rat rotors.” In 1959, he published a notation system for behavioral contingencies, the ancestor of his present system for the analysis of behavioral contingencies in human affairs. Mechner has also published numerous papers and chapters on his extensive research in the field of learning, some of it related to his avocational accomplishments as a pianist of concert caliber, linguist, chess and go master, and painter. Mechner has been funding his research activity personally through companies that he founded. The first, in 1960, was Basic Systems, Inc., which pioneered programmed learning, followed by ten more companies, each based on some innovative technology. From 1963-65, Mechner worked with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in upgrading science teaching in South America and Asia. In 1970 he participated in the development of Sesame Street. In the 1970s, he implemented early childhood development programs for state governments, and large-scale manpower development programs for the Brazilian government. He is currently a Trustee of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.

A detailed understanding of the prevailing behavioral contingencies is a precondition for the management of most human affairs. This paper presents a language for analyzing and diagramming any system of behavioral contingencies, including the complex ones encountered in the fields of law, business, public affairs, sociology, education, and economics. The language for such analysis, and its associated notation system, specifies the if, then relationships between acts, their consequences, and the termination of time periods. Analyses and diagrams of wide-ranging examples like fraud, betting, blackmail, various games, theft, contracts, racing, competition, mutual deterrence, feuding, bargaining, deception, loan transactions, insurance, elections, global warming, personal tipping, vigilance, sexual overtures, decision making, mistaken identity, etc. are presented as illustrations of the ability of the languages three-term vocabulary (acts, consequences, and time period terminations) and the associated simple syntax to generate the myriad nuances of meaning needed to provide the required generality and reach. A process is outlined for using the system as a tool for addressing practical problems in the above areas. One approach is to develop computer software for simulating and modeling the ways in which various possible assumptions and contingency designs would play out, and the behavioral dynamics that would ensue.

Symposium #57
CE Offered: BACB
Addressing the Needs of Low Functioning Children with Autism: Developing and Assessing Social Skills Programs
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
L2 Room 4
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)
Discussant: Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)
CE Instructor: Marjorie H. Charlop, Ph.D.

Low functioning children with autism (LFA) have few social skills programs developed to address their specific needs. LFA have often been considered to be recipients of social overtures, but not initiators. In the present symposium, several new social skills interventions have been designed and empirically validated with low functioning children with autism. In presentation 1, LFA were taught social initiations via Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Multiple Incidental Teaching Sessions (MITS), with a robust assessment of generalization of the social initiations. The results suggested that the MITS procedure was effective with LFA in terms of acquisition and generalization of social initiations. In presentation 2, a functional analysis was performed to determine whether LFA demonstrated inappropriate behaviors that served social functions. After the functional analysis revealed social intent, appropriate social initiations were taught as replacement behaviors. Finally, in presentation 3, a new social skills training procedure, Steps to Social Success was developed, empirically validated, and then compared with the Social Stories procedure. The social skills procedures presented in this symposium will be discussed in terms of creating socials skills protocols that are modifiable for all levels of functioning and provide both empirical evidence and hope for lower functioning children with autism.

Teaching Low Functioning Children with Autism to be Social Initiators: An Assessment and Comparison of a Naturalistic Based Teaching Strategy and Traditional Discrete Trial Training.
KARI BERQUIST (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)
Abstract: Few empirical research studies have attempted to teach low functioning children with autism to be social initiators, thus suggesting that their ability to learn such complex social behaviors is questionable. However research shows that low functioning children with autism have acquired a vast amount of skills, from imitation to speech. To address the needs of low functioning children and the noticeable gap in the literature, this study was conducted to teach nonverbal social initiations (e.g., greetings, sharing) to three low functioning children with autism. Children were taught two different social initiation behaviors, using two empirically validated teaching techniques, Modified Incidental Teaching Sessions (MITS), a Naturalistic Teaching Strategy (NaTS), and Discrete Trial Training (DTT). An alternating treatments design was used to compare the effectiveness of MITS and DTT in terms of acquisition and generalization. Results show that low functioning children were able to acquire behaviors using either treatment (MITS or DTT); however rate of acquisition occurred more rapidly with target behaviors taught using MITS. In addition, results show that only behaviors taught using MITS successfully showed rapid acquisition and evidence of generalization and maintenance. Results are discussed in terms of evaluation of different treatments and performance of low functioning children.
Social Functions of Inappropriate Behaviors: Increasing Social Initiations in Low Functioning Children with Autism through Functional Analysis and Communication Training.
ALISSA GREENBERG (Claremont McKenna College), Katherine K. Byrd (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)
Abstract: Previous social skills programs have failed to recognize that low functioning children with autism may already possess social intent, expressed through their aberrant behaviors. This two experiment investigation uses an innovative approach to teach low functioning children with autism how to initiate social interactions by taking advantage of the socio-communicative functions of their preexisting aberrant behaviors. In Experiment 1, a functional analysis was performed to classify aberrant behaviors (e.g., grabbing and stereotypy) of three children in terms of their social function. Results indicated that these behaviors served as social initiations. In Experiment 2, appropriate social behaviors that served the same socio-communicative function were chosen as replacement for the children’s inappropriate behaviors. Two children successfully learned appropriate social initiating behaviors through the use of functional communication training in the children’s natural environments. Furthermore, the learned social behaviors replaced the previously identified inappropriate behaviors and the children demonstrated some generalization and maintenance of the target skills. These findings suggest that it would be negligent for social skills programs to continue to ignore the needs of low functioning children. Low functioning children with autism can learn to perform social initiations and identifying the social function of their inappropriate behaviors may facilitate this process.
Social Skills Chaining with Children with Autism to Form Complex Social Interactions.
DEBRA BERRY MALMBERG (Claremont Graduate University), Sabrina D. Daneshvar (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)
Abstract: Steps to Social Success (SSS) is a social skills training program based on the chaining of smaller social skills as steps, until each of the smaller skills forms a more complex social interaction. The SSS procedure also included facilitators for motivation, generalization and maintenance of skills. The present study compared this new social skills program to a widely-used program, Social Stories (Gray & Garand, 1993). Whereas the new SSS procedure was based on the empirical literature of chaining and facilitation of motivation and generalization, the few studies on the effectiveness of Social Stories have focused on maladaptive behaviors rather than teaching appropriate social behaviors. An alternating treatments design with a multiple baseline across children was used to empirically assess and compare the effectiveness of Social Stories and the SSS program in teaching social skills to four children with autism. Results found that SSS program was effective in teaching complex social behaviors (e.g., sharing, initiating conversation) to all children, whereas Social Stories did not result in any increased social behaviors. Results also showed greater ancillary increases in spontaneous social behavior (e.g., initiations, eye contact) and decreases in inappropriate behavior in the SSS condition. Comparisons of the two strategies will be discussed.
Symposium #60
CE Offered: BACB
Assessing Change from Behavioral Treatment of Children with Autism
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
9:30 AM–10:50 AM
L2 Room 5
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Discussant: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
CE Instructor: Gerald E. Harris, Ph.D.

Demonstrating reliable changes in children with Autism from behavioral intervention is crucial to advancing the science of ABA. Scientific and accurate representation of treatment benefits is necessary to show others the value of ABA for this population. The 3 presentations in this symposium present data that increases the psychometric knowledge, and thus the utility, of the most widely used measures of intelligence and behavior problems in the autistic population. Data were collected from comprehensive assessments of a large sample of children diagnosed with autistic disorder as they participated in behavioral treatment programs. Sample sizes for the data analytic procedures are thus much larger than usually seen in this area. The first presentation presents a method for determining the reliability of change scores on the most popular comprehensive intelligence test, the WPPSI-III. The second presentation looks at an initial normative base for the WPPSI-III for use with children with autism. The third presentation investigates the interobserver agreement and outcome utility of an efficient behavior report instrument, the CBCL, for this special population. Together, these presentations advance our ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of behavioral interventions.

The Reliability of Change: The Clinical Significance of Outcome Data for Children with Autism.
GERALD E. HARRIS (Texas Young Autism Project), Wendy J. Neely (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Increasing research findings indicate that behavioral intervention does improve cognitive abilities in children with Autism. This presentation uses outcome data from a large sample of children with autism participating in behavioral treatment to address the reliability and clinical significance of cognitive change. Holw many children benefit, and to what degree? Pre-treatment and post-treatment cognitive test data from 95 young children participating in long-term behavioral treatment programs are examined using state of the art statistical procedures to assess change over time as well as the significance of that change across and within children. Findings support previous research that children with autism do exhibit increased cognitive ability following intervention, and show more clearly the extent and significance of the improvement. Implications for diagnostic and treatment outcome interpretations are discussed.
WPPSI-III Intelligence Test for Children: A Normative Database for Children with Autism.
WENDY J. NEELY (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project), Glen O. Sallows (Wisconsin Early Autism Project), Tamlynn Dianne Graupner (Wisconsin Early Autism Project)
Abstract: In order to properly diagnose, and then plan, monitor, and evaluate behavioral interventions, accurate assessment of cognitive abilities of children with autism is crucial . While frequently used, little is actuallyknown about the psychometrics of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence - 3rd Ed., for this population. Wechsler's study in the WPPSI-III Technical Manual (The Psychological Corporation, 2002) addressing utility for this special population has several significant methodological problems, including a very small sample size (n = 21), restrictions of age and I.Q., as well as unknown test administration and scoring procedures for the data. In the present study, data from standard initial administrations of the WPPSI-III for a much larger sample of children diagnosed with autism (n = 270), as well as subsequent administrations, were analyzed. The results compared to the findings from the Wechsler study. Significant differences were found in means and distributions of subtest and composite area standard scores. In particular, scores for lower functioning (I.Q. < 60) children with autism were very different, and the psychometrics of their responses changed over time. These results provide a foundation for development of norms specifically for use with children with autism.
Behavior Reports: Outcome Utility and Interobserver Agreement of the CBCL for Children with Autism.
GERI MARIA HARRIS (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) is one of the most widely used measures of child behavior, yet little is known about its psychometric properties in relation to children with autism. This study examined usefulness of the CBCL as an outcome measure for children with autism participating in behavioral treatment, including assessing the accuracy or interobserver agreement of parents in the autistic population. Levels of inter-parental agreement in the autistic population were also compared with the levels of inter-parental agreement in other populations, such as typically developing children and children in high-risk families. Results for a sample of 165 mother-father pairs show that parents of children with autism overall exhibit a high level of inter-observer agreement and that some treatment changes can be detected and measured by the CBCL.
Symposium #61
CE Offered: BACB
Effects of Reinforcement History: From Laboratory to Application
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
9:30 AM–10:50 AM
L2 Room 2
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Claire C St. Peter (West Virginia University)
Discussant: Carlos A. Bruner (National University of Mexico)
CE Instructor: Claire C St. Peter, Ph.D.

Recently, Critchfield (2006) urged behavior analysts to submit symposia geared toward diverse audiences as one way of maintaining the continuity of the field. We have attempted to answer his call by developing a symposium focused on reinforcement history, but approaching the topic from diverse perspectives. We therefore included a review of the use of nave animals in studies published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (Lattal & Okouchi), a research study examining effects of the order of delays in delay-discounting procedures (Anderson, Diller, & Slezack), and a research study examining the effects of exposure to reinforcement schedules commonly used in applied behavior analysis during baseline and treatment (St. Peter Pipkin & Vollmer). In all, we examine the potential effects of reinforcement history in nonhuman animal, human operant, and applied research in the hopes of building bridges across seldom-connected disciplines. Reinforcement history has important implications for all areas of behavior analysis; we hope to illuminate a portion of these in our presentations.

To Be or Not to Be Naïve: On the Behavioral Histories of Subjects in Experiments.
KENNON A. LATTAL (West Virginia University), Hiroto Okouchi (Osaka Kyoiku University)
Abstract: We reviewed all of the experimental studies involving nonhuman animals published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior between 1958 and 2005 to determine the extent to which experimenters used subjects that were or were not experimentally naïve. Over the years, the use of naive animals has declined in favor of animals with a prior history of use in behavioral experiments. There are differences in species, with monkeys and pigeons being more likely to have had a prior history of experimentation. Using naïve or non-naïve animals also depended on the nature of the experiment, in particular whether the experiment was a part of a series of experiments on a given topic. These outcomes are discussed in relation to Skinner’s suggestion in a JEAB paper on the future of behavior analysis that the importance of using naïve animals in experiments is exaggerated.
History of Delayed Presentation Affects Delay-Discounting Function.
KAREN G. ANDERSON (West Virginia University), James W. Diller (West Virginia University), Jonathan M. Slezak (James Madison University)
Abstract: As the delay to the presentation of a relatively large reinforcer is increased, the choice for that outcome (the self-controlled option) may be reduced below the choice for an alternative smaller, more immediate reinforcer (the impulsive option). The rate at which the value of the larger reinforcer is discounted as its delay increases has been shown to vary across individuals. Higher rates of delay discounting have been correlated with various behavioral disorders, e.g., substance abuse, gambling, violence. To examine a role for behavioral history in influencing differential rates of discounting, rats were exposed to a choice between one food pellet delivered immediately and three food pellets delivered after different delays. In one study, history with a fixed, ascending order of delay presentation systematically decreased larger-reinforcer choices. In subsequent studies, the order (within and across sessions) in which the various delays to the larger reinforcer were presented affected later delay-discounting functions. Together, these studies have implications for interpreting data from delay-discounting paradigms and may suggest ways to affect impulsive choice. A better understanding of the historical variables that determine impulsive/self-control choice may yield better prevention and treatment strategies for many behavioral disorders.
Effects of Recent Reinforcement History on Responding During Random-Ratio Schedules.
CLAIRE C ST. PETER (West Virginia University), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Recent reinforcement history may affect responding during subsequent reinforcement schedules, but these types of “history effects” have not been thoroughly examined in relation to applied issues. For example, we do not yet know the effects histories with the schedules commonly used in applied research on subsequent responding. We examined the effects of typical baseline (concurrent FR1/EXT) and full treatment (concurrent EXT/FR1) histories on responding during equal random ratio schedule (concurrent RR2/RR2) in a reversal design, using both human operant and applied methods. A computer analog for problem and appropriate behavior was used in experiments I and II, with nonclinical human adults as participants. Experiment I evaluated possible history effects with brief exposures to each type of reinforcement schedule. In experiment II, phases were conducted to stability to assess the potential long-term impact of history and to determine if effects observed in experiment I were merely transition states. Experiment III involved a replication of experiment II with a child with disabilities who engaged in aggression in a school setting. In all three experiments, recent reinforcement history affected responding during the random ratio schedules. We conclude by discussing implications of history for application and possible avenues for further examination of history effects.
Symposium #62
CE Offered: BACB
Simulation-Based Training to Improve Health Care Team Skills and Reduce Medical Errors
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
9:30 AM–10:50 AM
L4 Room 1
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: R. Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: R. Wayne Fuqua, Ph.D.

This symposium describes the use of simulation-based assessment and training to improve the performance of high-risk, low frequency skills that must be performed with high fidelity on every response opportunity. Topics covered include: the characteristics of simulations, the advantages and disadvantages of simulation-based assessment and training, the contributions of behavior analysis concepts to the design of effective simulation-based assessment and training, the identification and training of team skills, and the application of in-situ simulations to assess and improve team skills in critical health care environments.

Simulation-Based Assessment and Training: An Overview.
KRYSTYNA A. ORIZONDO-KOROTKO (Western Michigan University), R. Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: This presentation describes the defining features of simulation-based assessment and gives examples of the use of simulations in behavior analysis and in related disciplines. The advantages and limitations of simulation-based assessment and training are discussed.
Behavior Analytic Concepts in the Design of Simulation-Based Assessment and Training.
AMY GROSS (Western Michigan University), R. Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: This presentation describes the contribution of behavior analysis concepts to the design and implementation of simulation based assessment and training. Concepts to be considered in designing simulations include: response topography, temporal dimensions of responding, discriminative stimuli, setting events, motivative variables, response consequences, and concurrent behaviors.
Training and Assessing Team Skills: A Review and Synopsis of the Empirical Literature.
R. WAYNE FUQUA (Western Michigan University), Shannon M. Loewy (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: The communication and coordination skills that are essential for effective operation of a team are identified. Strategies for assessing and training team skills are reviewed and evaluated.
In Situ Simulation®: Assessing and Training Clinical Operations in Health Care Settings.
WILLIAM HAMMAN (Western Michigan University), R. Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University), Jeff Beaubien (Aptima, Inc.), Amy M. Gullickson (Western Michigan University), Rick Lammers (Michigan State University/Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies ), William Rutherford (Western Michigan University), Beth Seiler (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: This presentation describes the use of in-situ simulations in health care settings to assess and train communication skills and team resource management in critical health care environments.
Invited Paper Session #63
CE Offered: BACB

Why Humans Are So Cruel, and What Can We Do About It?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
CE Instructor: Joseph Ciarrochi, Ph.D.
Chair: JoAnne Dahl (Uppsala University, Sweden)
JOSEPH CIARROCHI (University of Wollongong)
Dr. Joseph Ciarrochi Joseph Ciarrochi has published several books, numerous book chapters, and over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles. His research focuses on understanding how to reduce suffering, promote vitality, and promote social effectiveness. One line of research seeks to identify the skills people need to optimally adapt to difficult life situations. Dr. Ciarrochi is currently collecting the fifth year of data for a large longitudinal study that examines how adolescent resilience develops and changes. A second line of research focuses on evaluating Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) interventions amongst a variety of populations (e.g., police force, people diagnosed with cancer).Recently, my colleagues and I are developing an internet-based system for delivering ACT.

Why do humans behave so badly towards one another, in the absence on any obvious deprivation or threat? Most importantly, what can practitioners do about it? My talk will look at the pervasiveness of cruelty and aversive interpersonal behavior, which ranges from the common and mundane (A husband trying to "hurt" his wife with words) to the extraordinary (e.g., the holocaust). Situationist, evolutionary, and cognitive theories provide valuable insights into the problem, but fall short in two ways. First, they explain a relatively limited range of aversive interpersonal behavior, and/or second, they provide limited accounts of how to reduce such behavior. I then illustrate how a behavioral model (ACT/RFT) provides a more comprehensive account of how to predict-and-reduce aversive interpersonal behavior. Finally, I will provide some concrete examples of how an ACT practitioner might go about reducing cruelty and promoting kindness.

Symposium #82
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in PECS Research and Use
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Andy Bondy (Pyramid Educational Consultants)
CE Instructor: Andy Bondy, Ph.D.

The effective use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) continues to expand worldwide, as indicated by descriptive and research-based publications regarding autism as well as other developmental disabilities. This symposium will review recent extensions of PECS regarding Occupational Therapy, behavior management, and transitional issues to other communication modalities. We also will review some recent research findings as well as point out a number of myths often associated with PECS.

Using PECS and Visual Supports within Occupational Therapy.
RACHEL VAN DER LINDEN (Pyramid Education Consultants, Australia)
Abstract: The World Federation of Occupational Therapists has stated that its primary goal is to "enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life." This goal is wholly consistent with the functional orientation of behavior analysis and the Pyramid Approach to Education. This talk will focus on how the use of PECS and other visual strategies can help achieve this broad outcome that Occupational Therapists seek to achieve.
Transitioning from The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) to Alternative Modalities.
AMANDA REED (Pyramid Educational Consultants), Lori Frost (Pyramid Educational Consultants)
Abstract: This paper will outline issues related to transitioning from PECS to speech, picture point systems and/or voice output communication aides (VOCAs). Specific areas of discussion regarding the transition to speech-based communication will include: speech intelligibility, delayed versus disordered speech development, utterance length, initiation of communication, and vocabulary expansion. In addition, issues related to transitioning from PECS to a picture point system and/or voice output communication aides (VOCAs) will be discussed. The application of a picture point system as an intermediate step prior to device selection will be considered. Finally, the use of PECS as a communication repair strategy following the transition to speech, picture point communication or a VOCA will be described. The content of the paper will be compiled through a review of the current literature, in addition to anecdotal reports.
Myths Associated with PECS: Facts vs. Fiction.
LORI FROST (Pyramid Educational Consultants), Andy Bondy (Pyramid Educational Consultants)
Abstract: PECS has substantially grown in popularity around the world, as has its empirical support. With that growth has come many misunderstanding, misinterpretations and myths associated with PECS and its use. This paper will review many of the common myths, some of which have the form "You can do PECS with X," and discuss how these perspective may be inconsistent with established protocol, behavior analytic theory, as well as empirical evidence from recent research.
How PECS Can Help with Challenging Behaviors.
ANDY BONDY (Pyramid Educational Consultants), Lori Frost (Pyramid Educational Consultants)
Abstract: The hallmark of behavior analysis is its emphasis function over form. This orientation is critical when planning to deal with contextually inappropriate behaviors (CIBs). The function of some CIBs appears to be communicative and this talk will discuss practical application and research findings associated with the use of PECS with intervention packages. Included will be reactive and preventive strategies.
Symposium #84
CE Offered: BACB
Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) as Early Intervention for Young Children with Behavioral and Developmental Disorders
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
L4 Room 1
Area: CBM/AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Sheila Eyberg (University of Florida)
Discussant: Sheila Eyberg (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Trevor F. Stokes, Ph.D.

Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an empirically-supported treatment for conduct-disordered young children that emphasizes changing parent-child interaction patterns to increase childrens prosocial behavior and decrease negative behavior. This treatment focuses on two basic interactions. In Child Directed Interaction (CDI), parents engage their child in a play situation with the goal of strengthening the parent-child attachment through differential social attention. In Parent Directed Interaction (PDI), parents learn to use specific behavioral analysis and therapy techniques to direct their childs behavior and follow through effectively. PCIT outcome research has demonstrated statistically and clinically significant improvements in the conduct-disordered behavior of young children. These effects were superior to waitlist controls and to parent group didactic training. This symposium will provide an overview of PCIT and present recent data on PCIT efficacy with conduct-disordered children as well as effectiveness data with low income urban families and with families of children with autism.

An Overview of the Efficacy of PCIT.
STEPHEN R. BOGGS (University Of Florida), Melanie M. Nelson (University of Oklahoma ), Sheila Eyberg (University of Florida)
Abstract: This study evaluated the efficacy of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) with 100 families of 3- through 6-year old children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Families were randomly assigned to an immediate treatment (IT) or a wait-list control (WL) condition. Four months after pretreatment assessment, families in both conditions were seen for a second assessment. Assessments included direct observations of parent-child interactions, parent report of child behavior problems, and measures of parent adjustment. The primary analyses comparing families in IT and WL conditions were analyses of covariance with pretreatment scores on the respective measures used as covariates. Direct observation measures indicated that parents in the IT condition interacted more positively with their children, gave fewer commands, and were less likely to engage in negative behavior (e.g., criticism, smart talk) than parents in the WL condition. Children in the IT condition were observed to be significantly more compliant to parent commands and less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior. In addition, parents in IT reported clinically significant improvements in their child’s behavior following PCIT and also reported decreased parenting stress. All families that received treatment reported high levels of satisfaction with both the process and outcome of PCIT.
Disseminating PCIT in an Urban Community Mental Health Center.
KAREN S. BUDD (DePaul University), Aaron Lyon (DePaul University), Steven Behling (DePaul University), Rachel Gershenson (DePaul University)
Abstract: Transporting PCIT from research settings, where its efficacy has been established, to the community entails changes at many levels, including the organization (e.g., constituent priorities, funding, and delivery sites), staff (e.g., clinician level and responsibilities), and participants (e.g., referral and demographics). This paper summarizes findings of the first two years of dissemination of PCIT in the DePaul University Community Mental Health Center, which serves predominantly ethnic minority, low-income, urban families in a public mental health context. Although PCIT efficacy studies have included diverse and economically disadvantaged participants, their numbers have been too few to establish that PCIT is a beneficial treatment for these families. Our findings show that PCIT leads to substantial positive changes for families who participate consistently; however, one-half of families terminated PCIT prematurely, often following major stressors (e.g., hotline calls, child’s dismissal from preschool, or parent unemployment). We present outcome data on the families served and describe adaptations to engage and retain families (e.g., scheduling sessions at a local daycare center, temporarily suspending PCIT sessions until family conditions stabilize). Based on our preliminary findings, we propose directions for enhancing treatment effectiveness of PCIT in community settings.
Applying PCIT to Parents and Siblings of Children with Autism.
TREVOR F. STOKES (University of South Florida), Amy Green (University of South Florida), Jessica Lynn Curley Ross (University of South Florida), Idia Binitie (University of South Florida), Sheri Jacobs (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Applying Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) to different diagnostic populations of children and families has increased in recent years as PCIT has been shown to be an efficacious intervention for children with disorders of behavior. This paper summarizes the adaptation of PCIT to families of children with autism. Specifically, both parents and siblings of children with autism were coached concurrently in the procedures of Child Directed Interaction (CDI), which are pivotal skills of powerful differential attention treatment interventions. Techniques involved the management of interactions though reduction in less functional repertoires of asking questions, giving commands, and using negative talk, while increasing behavioral descriptions, reflections, labeled praise and positive touch. Two clusters of CDI skills were introduced within a multiple baseline design across behaviors. Treatment occurred within ongoing clinical sessions at a university-based psychological services center. Consistent with an approved IRB protocol, videotapes of casework sessions were reviewed and analyzed post-hoc to document behavior changes and establish the reliability of observation within four single case experimental designs.
Symposium #88
CE Offered: BACB
Description, Explanation and Causation: A Host of Conceptual Confusions in Behavior Analysis of Development
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
L4 Room 2
Area: DEV/TPC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
Discussant: Michael J. Dougher (University of New Mexico)
CE Instructor: Martha Pelaez, Ph.D.

Three presentations by Per Holth, Martha Pelaez, and Jack Marr, along with the discussion by Michael Dougher, examine theoretical and empirical problems related to category mistakes in psychology, the nature of causation in developmental behavior analysis, the relations between behavioral description and explanation, and current limitations on behavioral explanations of development. Various "isms" (from "holism" to "mechanism") make an appearance, but we hope to clarify the "isms" as well as their relevance to behavior analysis and allied philosophical traditions. The lack of appropriate methodology for capturing the effects of these multiple interactions is emphasized as well as a host of conceptual confusions.

Avoiding Category Mistakes - Tougher Than You Think.
PER HOLTH (Akershus University College)
Abstract: Almost 60 years have now passed since the publication of Gilbert Ryle's (1949) The Concept of Mind, in which he demonstrated quite forcefully how psychology and philosophy at the time were misled into making the type of errors he called 'category mistakes'. Although the mistakes involved in Ryle's simpler examples were easy to understand, we are still likely to make the same types of mistakes when confronted with more complex behavioral phenomena. Psychology texts are, typically, pervaded by category mistakes. Within behavior analysis, more effort has been put into avoiding such errors. Yet, they still occur in behavior-analytic texts, too, and additional teaching procedures seem needed to eschew them.
The Nature of Causation in Human Development.
MARTHA PELAEZ (Florida International University)
Abstract: The case is made that human development call for both, description and explanation. The author discusses different causes of behavior development from a dynamic systems approach and argues for their interrelatedness. None of these different causal explanations works in isolation-- without specification of the other. A rationale for embracing both, contextualism as an epistemological tool, and mechanism as an experimental practice in our understanding of these causes is presented. And the concept of contextual interacting variables or "interactants" is highlighted as well as the enormous challenges the study of multiple interactions in mother-child research presents to the scientist. The lack of appropriate methodology for capturing the effects of these multiple interactions is emphasized and some experimental examples provided.
How Do Things Work?
M. JACKSON MARR (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Well over a decade ago there was a major flurry among the behaviorist community on the topic of "contextualism versus mechanism". At least among some significant quarters, for example, those still calling themselves "contextualists", this remains a matter of contention. In addition, those calling themselves "selectionists", who are beguiled by a rather loose metaphorical relation between evolutionary biology and the shaping of operant behavior, are also uncomfortable with something they call mechanism. In neither case is there compelling justification for such an anti-mechanistic position. Largely in the context of selection, I review some history of this anti-mechanistic stance, including what I think are a host of conceptual confusions, and, again, attempt to show that as behavioral scientists and engineers, we all, necessarily, are "mechanists"--we want to know how things work.
Symposium #89
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Approaches to Language Intervention for Children with Autism
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: James E. Carr (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: James E. Carr, Ph.D.

This symposium will present contemporary research relevant to behavioral language training for children with autism. In the first study, Barbara Esch will present data demonstrating that the stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure is useful in increasing vocalizations via automatic reinforcement such that they can be directly reinforced. In the second study, John Esch will present data demonstrating that lag reinforcement schedules can be used to increase vocal variability. In the third study, Jim Carr will present data on the use of multiple schedules and signaled delayed reinforcement in the reduction, but not elimination, of high-rate mands. In the final study, Linda LeBlanc will present data demonstrating how transfer of stimulus control procedures can be used to teach intraverbal categorization.

The Role of Automatic Reinforcement in Early Speech Acquisition.
BARBARA E. ESCH (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University), Laura L. Grow (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Children who emit few speech vocalizations and whose echoic repertoires are weak are at an instructional disadvantage for speech acquisition. Stimulus-stimulus pairing (SSP) has been shown to produce temporary increases, possibly attributable to automatic reinforcement, in post-pairing vocalizations (e.g., Yoon & Bennett, 2000), thus allowing subsequent direct reinforcement of these responses as verbal operants. Although the behavioral principles supporting an automatic reinforcement role in SSP are well established, empirical support for SSP is not robust (e.g., Esch, Carr, & Michael, 2005; Miguel, Carr, & Michael, 2002), calling into question the ability of SSP to establish speech as a conditioned reinforcer. This study presents empirical results of SSP procedural modifications that produced increases in within-session vocalizations that were subsequently directly reinforced as mands. The separate and combined contributions of these modifications are discussed in the context of the role of automatic reinforcement of speech responses.
Increasing Vocal Variability with a Lag Schedule of Differential Reinforcement.
JOHN W. ESCH (ESCH Behavior Consultants, Inc.), Jessa R. Love (Western Michigan University), Barbara E. Esch (Esch Behavior Consultants, Inc.)
Abstract: Many children with autism have vocal repertoires that are too limited to allow successful shaping of more complex vocal responses. Vocal variability would provide a greater number of phonemes available for reinforcement, thus increasing the overall complexity of the speech repertoire. Previous research (e.g., Page & Neuringer, 1985) shows that variability is a reinforceable dimension of behavior, much like frequency or intensity. In applied settings, it has been demonstrated that Lag schedules (differentially reinforcing behaviors that differ from the previous behavior) can alter behavioral variability. This study used a Lag 1 schedule to increase vocal variability in a child with a diagnosis of autism. An unexpected effect of this procedure was a slight increase in echoic approximations to the vocal model.
Reducing High-Rate Mands of Children with Autism: An Evaluation of Stimulus Control and Delayed Reinforcement Procedures.
JAMES E. CARR (Western Michigan University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell College), Jamie M. Severtson (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: When teaching children with disabilities to request (mand) for items, it is often necessary to deliver the requested item immediately and frequently. Such delivery might result in undesirably high rates of requesting to the extent that it is neither appropriate nor practical. The purpose of the present investigation was to replicate and extend previous research by evaluating the efficacy of different procedures for maintaining practical rates of manding: (a) signaled delay to reinforcement, (b) multiple CRF-EXT schedules. Our data suggest that (a) multiple schedules resulted in a substantial decrease in rates of manding to stable and more practical levels, (b) delay to reinforcement with continuous signals resulted in better response reduction and maintenance than delay to reinforcement with brief signals.
Teaching Intraverbal Behavior to Children with Autism.
LINDA A. LEBLANC (Western Michigan University), Tina R. Goldsmith (Western Michigan University), Rachael A. Sautter (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Skinner’s conceptual analysis of language has influenced one model of early and intensive behavioral intervention with children, which incorporates verbal operants including mands, tacts, intraverbals, etc. Many studies have examined the mand and tact relations, with little focus on teaching intraverbal behavior. In the present experiment, children with autism were taught categorical intraverbals using a transfer-of-stimulus-control procedure (i.e., tact to intraverbal) in combination with errorless learning (i.e., delayed prompting). Each of three children learned to name items associated with preselected categories (e.g., “What are some colors?”) with limited generalization to a fourth, non-targeted category, and limited maintenance of skills.



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