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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #193
CE Offered: BACB
Assessment and Treatment of Inappropriate Speech in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sunday, May 24, 2015
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
217C (CC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Matthew L. Edelstein (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: Matthew L. Edelstein, Master of Psychology
Abstract: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are likely to engage in non-contextual, repetitive, and inappropriate speech, which may impede their ability to learn and interact with others. This symposium will include three presentations on the functional assessment and treatment of inappropriate speech in individuals with ASD. In the first paper, Matthew Edelstein will present on the effects of demand complexity on immediate echolalia in individuals with ASD. In the second paper, Dewey DeLisle will present on the use of multiple schedules and schedule thinning to treat preseverative speech in individuals with ASD. In the third paper, Ethan Eisdorfer will present on the use of variation of a traditional attention condition to assess perseverative speech in an individual with ASD.
Keyword(s): autism, echolalia, functional analysis, perseverative speech
Effects of Demand Complexity On Echolalia in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
MATTHEW L. EDELSTEIN (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Kimberly Sloman (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University ), Katelyn Selver (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University)
Abstract: Echolalia, delayed or immediate repetition of an utterance, is a linguistic phenomenon common in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Although previous research indicates that this behavior is correlated with more complex utterances (Rydell & Mirenda,1994), to date, no study has conducted a functional analysis of immediate echolalia. Study 1 examined the relationship between demand complexity and immediate echolalia in 4 students with ASD in a university-based academic setting. Mastered and novel antecedent verbal demands that required an intraverbal response were systematically alternated using a multielement design to test whether participants’ immediate echolalia was socially mediated. Results showed that for all participants, immediate echolalia was more likely to occur during complex novel intraverbal tasks than in any other condition. In Study 2, two of the four participants were taught to say “I don’t know” in response to novel or unknown demands. A concurrent multiple baseline across participants was used to evaluate the treatment. Results showed that echolalia decreased and the use of “I don’t know” increased for both participants. Additionally, the “I don’t know” response was only observed to occur during novel demands and correct responding maintained for mastered demands. Implications for the assessment and treatment of echolalia will be discussed.
Use of Multiple Schedules and Reinforcement Thinning in the Treatment of Perseverative Speech
DEWEY DELISLE (The New England Center for Children), Jessica L. Thomason-Sassi (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Perseverative speech, the repetition of phrases or topics, can be problematic when the responses occur at such high frequency that they interfere with instruction or typical social interactions. Previous studies have shown that perseverative speech maintained by attention can be treated through the use of a simple differential reinforcement of alternative behavior procedure, in which perseverative speech is ignored and appropriate speech results in attention (Rehfeldt & Chambers, 2003); however, this type of intervention may also result in impractically high levels of appropriate speech. In the current study, a multiple schedule was introduced to decrease problem behavior and maintain low levels of appropriate speech. First, a functional analysis was conducted on the perseverative speech of 2 participants diagnosed with developmental disabilities; results showed that their perseverative speech was maintained by attention. Next, treatment consisted of alternating between reinforcement components, during which appropriate speech was reinforced and perseverative behavior was ignored, and extinction components, during which all behavior was ignored. Schedules were gradually altered to increase the length of the extinction component.

Assessment of Repetitive Vocalizations in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

ETHAN EISDORFER (Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University ), Rob Isenhower (Douglass Developmental Disabiliites Center, Rutgers University), Erica Dashow (Douglass Developmental Disabilites Center, Rutgers University), Mikala Hanson (Rutgers University- Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center)

Communication deficits and patterns of repetitive behavior are two defining characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Perseverative speech is a combination of these two deficits. These vocal behaviors may be socially stigmatizing and can interfere with the acquisition of important skills. The current investigation assessed repetitive vocalizations for a 16 year old adolescent male diagnosed with ASD. In the initial stages of assessment, ABC data collected by classroom staff suggested an attention function for the behavior. However, a traditional functional analysis (FA) yielded equivocal results. Subsequently, an adapted FA that compared a traditional attention condition, a noncontingent attention (control) condition and a condition that utilized the repeated arrival of novel therapists was conducted. High rates of repetitive vocalization were observed in the novel attention condition relative to those observed during both the traditional FA attention condition and the noncontingent attention condition. Implications for the effective treatment of repetitive vocalization will be discussed.




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