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

Previous Page


Poster Session #362
VRB Monday Noon
Monday, May 25, 2015
12:00 PM–2:00 PM
Exhibit Hall C (CC)
102. Tact-Mand Transfer as a Higher-Order Verbal Operant: Assessing and/or Establishing this Relation in Early Learners with Autism
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
GENAE HALL (Behavior Analysis Center for Autism, Behavior Analysis ), Jennifer Elia (Behavior Analysis Center for Autism), Meghan Miles (Behavior Analysis Center for Autism), Kelli Luck (Behavior Analysis Center for Autism), Mark L. Sundberg (Sundberg and Associates)
Abstract: With the variety of experimental arrangements that have been employed and differing entering repertoires of the participants, it is not surprising that results of studies on tact-mand independence have seemed to vary. Tact-mand transfer appears to constitute an abstract relation between tacts and mands--a higher-order verbal operant. Assessing this relation would seem to involve training specific verbal topographies as tacts, arranging effective mand conditions, and assessing whether the same topographies emerge as mands. If they do not, the learner is currently naïve with respect to this relation; that is, tacts and mands are functionally independent in his or her repertoire. In many learners, an abstract relation between tacts and mands may then be established via multiple exemplar training. The present study replicated and extended Hall & Sundberg (1987) by first assessing a pre-existing abstract relation between tacts and mands in several early learners with autism. If this relation was absent, one or more tact-mand pairs were trained in an effort to establish it. For all participants (five, to this point), the experimenter specified three tact-mand targets for each of three behavioral chains (nine total) and probed all mands after all tacts had been trained to criterion; this was accomplished by manipulating transitive conditioned motivating operations via the interrupted behavior chain procedure. If mands did not emerge, participants were considered naïve with respect to an abstract relation between tacts and mands and received direct mand training on one or more topographies previously trained only as tacts. After each mand was trained, the remaining untrained mands were probed, to assess the point at which untrained mands began to emerge (i.e., the point of transfer).
103. Use of Textual Prompts to Teach Mands for Information using “who?”
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
WILLIAM WALTON (Marcus Autism Center), Cassondra M Gayman (Marcus Autism Center), Brittany Bartlett (Marcus Autism Center), Sarah Wymer (Marcus Autism Center), Sarah Frampton (Marcus Autism Center), Alice Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: Recent research on teaching mands for “information” to children with language deficits have focused on manipulating establishing operations (EOs). However, only a few of those studies have focused on programming both EO and abolishing operation (AO) conditions to ensure functional use of the mand for information. Shillingsburg, Bowen, Valentino, and Pierce (2014) provided a successful demonstration of differential responding between conditions in which information was needed (EO condition) versus when it was already provided (AO condition) demonstrating control of the response by the relevant EO. Although the two participants (both diagnosed with autism) acquired mands for information “who?” via echoic prompting, they were not observed repeating the initial mand to the novel listener in both EOA and EOP. For example, in the EOP condition the children were observed emitting a request for the item, appropriately asking “who has the item?”, successfully approaching the identified person but not emitting an additional mand for the item. The current study sought to replicate and expand the methods employed by Shillingsburg and colleagues for two children diagnosed with autism by including the repeated request for the item upon approaching the novel listener. Textual prompts reading “Who” were used with all participants during prompted trials. Procedures resulted in differential use of the mands for information during EO and AO conditions for both participants. Results have implications for an alternative way to prompt mands for information. Participant’s use of information obtained via emitting mands for information is also discussed.
104. The Effects of Topography Specific Distractors on Joing Controlled Sequencing: A Preliminary Investigation
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Curtis Clough (California State University, Sacramento), CAREEN SUZANNE MEYER (California State University, Sacramento), Timothy Fechter (California State University, Sacramento), Stephanie Cran (California State University, Sacramento), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)

The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effects of vocal and motor distractors on sequencing arbitrary stimuli. Seven undergraduate students were exposed to different sets of stimuli and were given either vocal or motor (hand signs) instructions to sequence them in a multielement design. The effects of tact, echoic/mimetic, and joint control training were evaluated in a multiple baseline design, while distractor tasks were presented in a reversal design. The results indicated that four participants arranged the sets taught vocally and with hand signs in novel sequences after tact and echoic training. Three participants required additional training for the set taught with hand signs prior to accurate novel sequencing. In addition, accurate responding deteriorated in all participants for sets taught vocally and with hand signs, when a vocal distractor task was required. Accurate responding also deteriorated for four participants during distractor tasks that required tapping to the sound of a metronome, but when consistent tapping without the sound of a metronome was used, responding in three participants was not affected.

105. Teaching Mands for Information Using "When"
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
ROBIN K. LANDA (Marcus Autism Center), Chelsea Kremer (Marcus Autism Center), Olivia Sadler (Marcus Autism Center), Alice Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: Mands for information may be considered pivotal skills that are often deficient among children with autism. Previous research has demonstrated the efficacy of contriving motivating operations to teach children with autism to mand for information using, “What,” “Who,” “Where,” “Which,” and, “How”. However, literature evaluating acquisition of the mand, “When,” is comparatively limited. As an extension of Shillingsburg et al. (2014), we taught a child with autism to engage in differentiated mands for information regarding the availability of reinforcers, under alternating conditions in which either a contrived establishing operation (EO) or abolishing operation (AO) was present. Textual prompts and prompt delays were utilized to teach the child to ask a framed, “When”, question under EO conditions. Treatment resulted in differentiated mands for information under EO and AO conditions and correct use of the provided information. In addition, acquisition of the mand for information under EO conditions resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of the child’s tangible requests that resulted in reinforcement, compared to extinction. These findings further support the use of contrived motivating operations and prompt delays to teach mands for information and extend upon previous literature by demonstrating effective procedures promoting acquisition of the mand, “When.”
106. A Preliminary Investigation on Intraverbal Naming and the Emergence of Generalized Equivalence Classes
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
ADRIENNE JENNINGS (California State University Sacramento), Charisse Ann Lantaya (California State University, Sacramento), Devin Galdieri (California State University, Sacramento), Amanda Chastain (California State University, Sacramento), Margaret Alvarez (California State University, Sacramento), Careen Suzanne Meyer (California State University, Sacramento), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)
Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effects of teaching baseline intraverbal relations in a statement format on the emergence of generalized equivalence classes. Eight undergraduates were exposed to tact training with three stimulus sets (A1B1C1, A2B2C2, and A3B3C3), listener testing, and baseline intraverbal training (A’B’ and B’C’). Formation of equivalence classes was assessed using visual-visual matching-to-sample (MTS) tasks and intraverbal tests for symmetrical (BA, B’A’, CB, C’B’) and transitive relations (AC, A’C’, CA, C’A’). Generalization MTS posttests were then presented for four untrained sets of stimuli. Five participants passed all MTS and intraverbal posttests. The remaining three required either tact or intraverbal remedial training in order to achieve passing criterion. During the vocal MTS posttest, all participants emitted either trained or abbreviated tacts and/or intraverbals for each trial and for two participants, performance improved. These findings show the efficacy of intraverbal training in the formation of generalized equivalence classes. Overall, results suggest verbal mediation strategies (i.e., intraverbal naming) may have facilitated MTS performance.
107. Comparison of Picture Exchange and Modified Sign Language Training to Establish Discriminated Mands
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
CASSONDRA M GAYMAN (Marcus Autism Center), Sarah Frampton (Marcus Autism Center), Dianna Shippee (Marcus Autism Center), Emily Napier (Marcus Autism Center), Ashley Neitzer (Marcus Autism Center), Alice Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: For some individuals, repeated failure to acquire vocal manding results in the teaching of alternative topographies such as modified sign language or picture based communication. In determining which topography of manding to teach, clinicians must consider a variety of factors; often overlooked is the correspondence between the mand and the motivating operation at strength. The current investigation compared two mand modalities using an adapted alternating treatments design, embedded into a multiple baseline across behaviors for an individual with autism. To assess correspondence between the mand and the motivating operation, the Pre-Test and Post-Test conditions included a discrimination check between the individual’s indicating response (i.e., reach), the picture selected or sign emitted, and the item consumed. Data show the participant acquired picture exchange more rapidly than modified sign language. Further, the discrimination checks in the Post-Tests revealed errors following the initiation of training for the third mand; suggesting that the mands were not discriminated until additional remedial training was conducted. This study extends the mand comparison literature through the inclusion of discrimination checks, ensuring the learner’s indicating response, mand response, and consumption correspond with each other. Further, the inclusion of maintenance phase demonstrated the strength of these responses in the individual’s repertoire over time.
108. The Effects of Multiple Exemplar Instruction Across Listener and Speaker Responses on the Acquisition of Naming in Three Children with Disabilities
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
GABRIELLE SWEENEY (Teachers College Columbia University )
Abstract: We tested the effects of Multiple Exemplar Instruction (MEI) across listener and speaker responses on the acquisition of Naming in three preschool children diagnosed with disabilities. The experiment was conducted in a CABAS® classroom using a non-concurrent delayed multiple probe design across participants. Participants were selected for the study because they did not demonstrate full Naming during the initial Naming probe, required direct instruction on tacts, and required a high number of learn units to meet instructional objectives. The dependent variable was the acquisition of Naming, which consists of both listener (point to topography) and speaker (tact and intraverbal tact topographies) components, measured during Naming probes. The independent variable was MEI, in which match, point, tact, and intraverbal tact responses were rotated across multiple exemplars of stimuli within the same session. Upon completion of two intervention sets of MEI, all three participants demonstrated the Naming capability during the post intervention probes using the original set and novel sets. It was determined that Naming emerged for all three participants as a function of MEI across listener and speaker repsonses.
109. Teaching Recalling Past Events Using Tact and Echoic Prompts
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
SARAH WYMER (Marcus Autism Center, Georgia State University), Sarah Frampton (Marcus Autism Center), Robin K. Landa (Marcus Autism Center), Jordyn Turner (Marcus Autism Center), Alice Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of M)
Abstract: Many children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), despite significant mand, tact, and listener repertoires, fail to develop a functional intraverbal repertoire beyond simple intraverbal behavior such as providing their names (Sundberg & Sundberg, 2011). Because intraverbal behavior is essential to academic and social skills, it is important to establish responding to more complex intraverbals (Partington & Bailey, 1993). One type of complex intraverbal is the ability to answer questions about events in the past. In the current investigation, two children with autism were taught to answer questions about what activities they had completed earlier in their treatment sessions at three different locations. Intervention consisted of echoic and tact prompts using pictures of the participant engaging in the activity, with reinforcement provided following correct responses on independent opportunities. Training was conducted immediately following activity completion and then throughout the instructional day using an increasing inter-trial interval to establish correct responding at the end of the day. Following training, both participants demonstrated increased accuracy when they recalled what activities they had participated at each location at the end of the day.
110. Referent-Based Verbal Behavior Instruction for Children With Autism
Area: VRB; Domain: Service Delivery
ANASTASIA SAWCHAK (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Stephanie Curtis (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Lee L. Mason (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Alonzo Andrews (The University of Texas at San Antonio)
Abstract: Skinner's (1957) analysis of verbal behavior deconstructed language according to stimulus control. Al- though the functional independence of these verbal operants has been empirically demonstrated, more commonly, a speaker's verbal behavior is induced by a convergence of controlling stimuli. However, circumscribed stimulus control may inhibit the development of complex verbal repertoires for some individuals, including those with autism spectrum dis- orders. For this reason, in the current paper, we propose a behavior analytic intervention with the overarching goal of establishing multiple control over verbal behavior through the conditioning of referent stimuli. Thirteen children received referent-based teaching at a university-based center for applied behavior analysis. Each participant received 90 minutes of referent-based instruction four days a week for 13 weeks. Instruction was individualized to the needs of the participant, but focused on the four primary verbal operants: mands, echoics, tacts, and sequelics. Using the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP; Sundberg, 2008) as a pre- and post-test, we analyzed the effects of RBT. A Wilcoxon Signed-ranks test indicated that, after one semester of RBT, participants scored significantly higher on the VB-MAPP post-test (Mdn = 65.5) than when initially assessed on the VB-MAPP pre-test (Mdn = 32.5), Z = -3.18, p = .001, r = .62. The results of this study will be discussed within the context of the limitations. Overall, however, referent-based teaching appears to be an effective method for increasing the language of children with autism.
111. An Evaluation of Extinction on Increasing Functional Vocal Language
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
DIANNA M. SHIPPEE (Marcus Autism Center), William Walton (Marcus Autism Center), Alice Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: Previous research has shown that extinction is effective at increasing vocalizations in non-vocal children with an established alternative mand topography, such as sign language (Valentino, Shillingsburg, Call, Burton, & Bowen, 2011). In this study, we evaluated the effects of extinction on promoting vocal language for a young child diagnosed with autism who failed to acquire an alternative functional mand topography. Four preferred items were identified and randomly assigned to one of two conditions. For each session, only one of the four items was available. In the baseline condition, indicating responses (i.e., reaching or pointing) and vocal word approximations for the item present were reinforced with access to that item. In the extinction condition, only word approximations for the item present were reinforced and indicating responses were not reinforced. Results found an increase in the rate of word approximations for one out of two items in the extinction condition and a decrease in the rate of indicating responses emitted; whereas in baseline, rates of word approximations remained stable and low.
112. Establishing Derived Textual Control in an Activity Schedule With an Adult With Down Syndrome
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Daniel Ortega (Trellis Center), SADIE L. LOVETT (Central Washington University), Paige Thornton (Central Washington University)
Abstract: Many adults with developmental disabilities rely on picture activity schedules for completing daily and vocational tasks. The use of text-based activity schedules better approximates the daily behavior of typical adults. This study extended the findings of Miguel et al. (2009) who used conditional discrimination training to transfer control from pictures to printed words in activity schedules for children with autism. In the current study, conditional discrimination training was used to teach one adult diagnosed with Down syndrome to select pictures and printed words when provided with their dictated names. This instructional arrangement was designed to promote the emergence of equivalence relations between the pictures and printed words, which were never directly paired during training. A multiple probe design across stimulus sets was used to evaluate the transfer of control from pictures to text. Following instruction, the participant successfully completed the activity schedule using printed words. He also orally named the textual stimuli in the absence of direct training for this skill.
113. Stimulus-Stimulus Pairing
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
BRITTANY BARTLETT (Marcus Autism Center), Taylor Thompson (Marcus Autism Center), Alice Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of M)
Abstract: It has been estimated that 20-50% of those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) do not develop functional vocal language (Graziano, 2002; Lord, Risi, & Pickles, 2004). In fact, language deficits are one of the most common presenting complaints of parents of children with ASD (De Giacomo & Fombonne, 1998). Stimulus-stimulus pairing (SSP), based on the principles of both respondent and operant conditioning, involves intensive and systematic pairing of adult produced vocalizations with identified preferred items. In this study, we evaluated the effects of stimulus-stimulus pairing for 3 minimally verbal children diagnosed with autism between the ages of 2 years and 3 years 11 months. Following baseline measures, treatment consisted of approximately 5 (10 minute sessions) per day, 5 days per week, for 6 weeks. A collection of assessments were administered every 3 weeks including the Early Echoic Skills Assessment (EESA) and language observations measuring the rate of sounds emitted during a 20 minute observation. Results found an increase in the EESA score for 3 out of 3 participants following 6 weeks of treatment. An increase in rate of sounds emitted was observed for 2 out of the 3 participants following 6 weeks of treatment.
114. Examination of the Explicit-Zero Effect Via Behavior-Behavior Relations
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
PHILIP ERB (University of Florida), Jesse Dallery (University of Florida)
Abstract: Altering the format in which hypothetical discounting choices are presented has been found to influence discounting rate. For example, relative to the traditional format frame, significantly higher proportions of choices for the larger-later (LL) reward have been observed with each of the choice options presented in terms of a sequence – an effect termed the explicit-zero effect. Using a within-subjects design, undergraduate students completed the monetary choice questionnaire (MCQ), and a modified version of the MCQ with the choice options presented in the explicit-zero format frame. A concurrent think-aloud procedure was employed during each task administration. To date, the results replicate previous findings; a significantly higher proportion of LL choices was observed when the choice options were presented in the explicit-zero format, relative to the traditional format. Unfortunately, consistent relationships between discounting choices and participants’ verbalizations have not been identified. Given that these subtle alterations in the formatting of temporal discounting choices result in changes in discounting rate, and these changes presumably involve intervening mental processes and/or covert verbal behavior, the use of concurrent think-aloud methodology during the completion of temporal discounting tasks may help to isolate how these structural alterations are exerting their respective effects.
115. Language Outcomes of Nonvocal Children Following Intensive ABA Intervention
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
RACHEL YOSICK (Marcus Autism Center), Hannah Robinson (Marcus Autism Center), Tylor Thompson (Marcus Autism Center), Caitlin H. Delfs (Marcus Autism Center), Alice Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: It has been estimated that 20% of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are “nonverbal,” defined as using fewer than five words per day (Lord, Risi, & Pickles, 2004). Traditionally, it was thought that if children had not acquired speech by age five, their prognosis for developing it in the future was poor (Ornitz, 1973). However, recent evidence supports the notion that many individuals over age five with significant language delays acquire useful speech (Wodka et al., 2013). The current study examined the outcomes of a large sample of children (n=98; average age 5.2 years, range 1-16 years) with language deficits who received intensive ABA intervention to address language deficits at an outpatient treatment facility (average months of intervention 16, range 3-59 months). Outcomes such as the development of functional language, spontaneous vocalizations, and an echoic repertoire were examined to determine possible predictors of these outcomes (i.e., age, treatment length, skills at admission, etc.). Results include the portion of the sample that achieved specific vocal language outcomes (%) and which demographic and treatment variables were predictive of these outcomes (odds ratios for significant predictors). Implications of results are discussed in light of demographic and treatment variables that influenced positive treatment outcomes.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh