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

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Symposium #216
CE Offered: BACB
Assessing Variables That Affect Conditional Discrimination Training for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sunday, May 27, 2018
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Grand Hall D
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joseph M. Vedora (Evergreen Center)
CE Instructor: Joseph M. Vedora, Ed.D.

Educational and behavior analytic programs for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and developmental delays often target discrimination training with auditory and visual stimuli. Several procedures may facilitate the acquisition of conditional discriminations. This symposium reviews three studies conducted with individuals with autism spectrum disorders that evaluated procedures, specifically different stimulus presentations, used to teach conditional discriminations. The first two studies compared the effectiveness of a sample-first and a comparison-first stimulus presentation. These studies were systematic replications of Petursdottir and Aguilar (2016). The third study compared the effectiveness and efficiency of teaching auditory-visual conditional discriminations in sets of two, three, and four auditory-visual stimuli pairs. The implications of these procedures for practitioners and recommendations for future researchers will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board Certified Behavior Analysts providing and supervising ABA services for individuals with ASD.


A Comparison of Sample-First and Comparison-First Procedures During Receptive Label Training

Tiffany Barry (Evergreen Center), Joseph M. Vedora (Evergreen Center), John Claude Ward-Horner (Evergreen Center), KAITLIN HENDRICKX (Evergreen Center)

This study evaluated two different stimulus presentations were during auditory visual discrimination training. Acquisition during a sample-first procedure, in which the sample stimulus was presented before the comparison stimuli, was compared to a comparison-first procedure in which the sample presentation was delayed and presented after the comparison stimuli. We extended prior research by a) evaluating the efficiency of the two stimulus presentations for two teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorders, b) conducting the evaluations in tabletop format, and c) incorporating a prompt delay procedure. The results indicated that both participants learned more quickly in the comparison-first condition, a finding that differed from Petursdottir and Aguilar (2016) and recommendations derived from laboratory research. In the second phase, we evaluated if systematic exposure to stimulus presentations affected responding during subsequent comparisons. The role of individual learning histories and their effects on learning with different stimulus presentations is discussed.


Stimulus Presentation Order During Receptive-Identification Instruction: Are We Doing It Right?

BAILEY DEVINE (Texas Christian University), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University), Einar T. Ingvarsson (Virginia Institute of Autism)

Receptive identification trials involve reinforcement of a particular comparison selection (e.g., pointing to a picture) conditional upon the presence of a specific sample stimulus (e.g., a spoken word). Consistent with common laboratory practices and related clinical recommendations, Petursdottir & Aguilar (2016) found a reliable sample-first advantage when they taught children to identify birds and flags. More recent unpublished data suggest that this sample-first advantage may be less reliable when error correction is implemented. Our follow up studies investigated the use of picture prompts during error correction and have produced mixed results. Notably, all of our previous studies were conducted with typically developing children via laptop computers. Such questions about procedural minutia may not greatly affect acquisition for these children, thus the purpose of the current study is to compare acquisition under sample-first and comparison-first conditions (with error correction) for children with ASD using table-top teaching methods as is typically performed in EIBI settings. Participants were two boys (8 years, 5 months and 6 years, 7 months) with limited receptive and expressive repertoires. Results show a significant comparison-first advantage for both participants, and follow up data collection is recommended.


An Evaluation of Stimulus Set Size During Conditional Discrimination Training for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

SANDHYA RAJAGOPAL (Florida Institute of Technology), Laura L. Grow (Garden Academy), Ivy M. Chong Crane (Florida Institute of Technology; The Scott Center for Autism Treatment), Becca Fire (Florida Institute of Technology)

Clinicians and researchers use several teaching strategies that vary in terms of the number of comparison stimuli during training (e.g., blocked-trials procedure, the conditional-only method). Sidman (1987) argued that instructors should include more than two comparisons during conditional discrimination training to reduce the likelihood of false positive or false negative results. Researchers have yet to evaluate how the size of the comparison might affect the acquisition of auditory-visual conditional discriminations. The purpose of the study was to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of teaching auditory-visual conditional discriminations in sets of two, three, and four auditory-visual stimuli pairs. Two children aged 3- and 6-years old who had been previously diagnosed with ASD participated in the study. The experimenter taught 12 relations in each of the experimental conditions. An adapted alternating treatments design was used to compare efficiency and effectiveness of teaching conditional discriminations in different set sizes. The results will be discussed in terms of clinical implications and directions for future research.




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