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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #208
Instructional Considerations When Establishing New Skills for Learners With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sunday, May 27, 2018
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom F
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University)
Discussant: Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University)
CE Instructor: Thomas S. Higbee, Ph.D.

The symposium includes four talks that broadly address instructional considerations when establishing new skills for learners with autism spectrum disorder. The first talk evaluated the acquisition of imitative responses that did and did not produce a permanent product. Parallels to basic research and clinical implications for imitation training will be discussed. The second talk evaluated the acquisition and generalization of yes and no responding across verbal operants. Results will be discussed in light of previous related studies. The third talk evaluated the effects of three instructional set sizes on the acquisition of tacts. Variables that may influence the optimal set size and considerations for clinical practice will be presented. The fourth talk evaluated the usefulness of a equivalence-based instruction to establish WH-concepts. Collectively, these studies support consideration for aspects of instruction to promote acquisition of new skills for learners with autism spectrum disorder.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): equivalence, generalization, motor imitation, set size
Target Audience:

Practitioners of behavior analysis and school psychology.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) identify whether the relative benefits of tasks that do and do not produce a permanent product for teaching imitative responses for learners with autism spectrum disorder; (2) describe how to arrange training to produce generality of yes and no responding across verbal operants; (3) describe how instructional set size may influence acquisition of tacts; and (4) identify how equivalence-based instruction may be used to establishing WH-concepts.
Evaluations of Object Motor Imitation Training
MEGHAN DESHAIS (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) display serious deficits in imitative behavior relative to their typically developing peers (Williams, Whiten, & Singh, 2004). Our current line of research aims to elucidate features of targets that might influence acquisition during object imitation training. In Study 1, with two subjects, we compared rates of acquisition for target imitative behavior that did and did not produce a permanent product in a simple discrimination arrangement. In Study 2, with two subjects, we conducted the same comparison in a conditional discrimination arrangement. The results of Studies 1 and 2 suggest that targets that did not leave a permanent product were more rapidly acquired in both simple and conditional discrimination arrangements. In Study 3, we conducted a follow-up experiment with three subjects in which we manipulated the variables that we suspected might be responsible for the differential rates of acquisition. Our findings suggest that the rapid acquisition of targets without permanent products in Studies 1 and 2 might have been due to auditory feedback and repetition inherent to the imitated response. Parallels to basic research and clinical implications for object imitation training for children with ASD will be discussed.

Training and Generalization of Yes and No Responding Across Verbal Operants

DAYNA COSTELLO (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Tiffany Kodak (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Mike Harman (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Gabriella Rachal Van Den Elzen (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

We sought to replicate and extend Shillingsburg, Kelley, Roane, Kisamore, and Brown (2009) by examining the acquisition and generalization of yes and no responses across verbal operants (mand, tact, and intraverbal). Three children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder participated. We identified four yes and four no targets per verbal operant (12 stimuli total) and used a multiple baseline design across verbal operants to teach yes and no responses as mands, tacts, and intraverbals. Training consisted of massed, 10-trial sessions with a progressive prompt delay of one yes and one no target response from the targeted verbal operant. Targets were considered mastered based on three consecutive correct probe trials, conducted each day before training sessions. Following mastery of each target, generalization sessions of that response (yes or no) across verbal operants was examined. We extended Shillingsburg et al. by conducting additional generalization sessions that included varied trials (yes and no targets alternated randomly within a session) across verbal operants following mastery of each operant. Our extension aims to address a limitation of previous research by examining the effects of varied yes and no generalization probes across verbal operants and the discriminability that single-response training promotes.

The Influence of Instructional Set Size on the Acquisition of Tacts
Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University), LAUREN GOODWYN (Caldwell University), Danielle L. Gureghian (Garden Academy), Alexandra Marie Campanaro (Caldwell University)
Abstract: We evaluated the effects of instructional set size on the acquisition of tacts for three children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. We taught responses to 12 targets in each of three conditions. The 3-stimuli condition consisted of 4 sets, the 6-stimuli condition consisted of 2 sets, and the 12-sitmuli condition consisted of 1 set. We used an adapted alternating treatments design to compare the effect of different instructional set sizes on the acquisition of tacts. Training consisted of 12-trial sessions with a 5-s constant prompt delay. Sets were considered mastered in the instructional set size of three, six, and 12 once the participant demonstrated unprompted correct responding during 100% of trials for one, two, and four sessions, respectively. Following mastery of a set, the next set in that condition was introduced until all sets in that condition were mastered. Our evaluation aims to provide recommendations for selecting instructional set sizes that result in efficient skill acquisition.

Teaching WH-Concepts to a Child With Autism Using Equivalence-Based Instruction: A Case Study

KELLY DELLA ROSA (Alpine Learning Group), Jaime DeQuinzio (Alpine Learning Group), Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group)

We used a pretest/posttest experimental design to examine the effects of teaching conditional relations among stimuli representing WH-concepts on the emergence of untaught relations, receptive and expressive identification of WH-concepts in sentences, and sorting tasks. Match-to-sample was used to train the conditional discriminations using a simple to complex training protocol and a linear training structure. Pretests for all relations were below 50%, with the exception of C-B, and posttest scores were at or above 80% for all relations. We also observed the emergence of sorting and receptive and expressive identification. Although new relations emerged following EBI and the task for sorting pictures into WH categories emerged as well, the participant still could not demonstrated other receptive or expressive identification tasks to criterion levels when the WH-concepts were in the contexts of sentences. Future training sets might include sentences as equivalence stimuli used during training. Implications for the limits of EBI with this learner will be discussed.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh