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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #111
CE Offered: BACB
An Evaluation of Training Procedures and Generalization of Mands for Information
Saturday, May 25, 2019
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom CD South
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Mary Halbur (Marquette University)
Discussant: M. Alice Shillingsburg (May Institute)
CE Instructor: Mary Halbur, M.S.
Abstract: Mands for information allow a learner to obtain information that may help them access additional reinforcers. There is a need for research on identifying the most efficient and efficacious way to teach mands for information to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because direct teaching of these skills is often necessary. The purpose of this symposium is to provide resources on current research and clinical applications when teaching learners to engage in mands for information. In the first study, Halbur and colleagues taught individuals to mand to obtain information about the location of preferred items under EO and AO conditions. They also evaluated generalization of these mands across stimuli and locations. In the second study, Ingvarsson and Jessel investigated teaching mands for missing items using an interrupted chains procedure and assessed generalization of autoclitic frames. In the third study, Patil and colleagues taught children to engage in “why” mands across distinct scenarios (i.e., unusual events, emotional responses) and assessed generalization. In the fourth study, Pyles et al. established causal information as a reinforcer and investigated teaching “why” to children with ASD across EO and AO conditions. Following these presentations, our discussant will provide clinical recommendations and avenues for future research.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): abolishing operations, establishing operations, generalization, mands
Target Audience: graduate students, researchers, and behavior analytic clinicians
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation the participants will be able to (1) discuss potential methods for teaching learners to engage in various mands for information, (2) describe the possible benefits of including EO and AO learning trials when training mands, and (3) evaluate how to program for generalization of mands for information

Teaching Mands for Information With Where Under Establishing and Abolishing Operation Conditions

MARY HALBUR (Marquette University), Dayna Costello (Trumpet Behavioral Health), Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University), Mike Harman (Briar Cliff University), Jessi Reidy (Marquette University), Marisa E. McKee (Marquette University), Alyssa P. Scott (Marquette University )

Many children with autism spectrum disorder have deficits in appropriately manding for information using Wh-questions, although this question-asking repertoire is a valuable skill within social interactions and academic programs. Furthermore, mands for information provide the learner with necessary information in order to obtain access to preferred items and leisure activities (e.g., the location of a missing toy or where a snack might be stored). To ensure that mands are under correct antecedent control, previous behavior analytic studies have included conditions with both establishing (EO) and abolishing operations (AO); however, research on the mand ‘where’ is limited in this format. Thus, the present investigation utilized a prompt delay to teach two children with autism to mand for information (i.e., the location of a preferred edible) under a relevant EO but not when an AO was in place for such information. Prior to and following training, generalization probes were conducted in new locations as well as with novel therapists and materials. Clinical suggestions and future research considerations will be reviewed.


Teaching Children With Autism to Mand for Known and Unknown Items Using Contrived Establishing Operations

EINAR T. INGVARSSON (Virginia Institute of Autism), Joshua Jessel (Queens College)

The interrupted chains procedure has been used to teach children with limited verbal repertoires to independently mand for missing items required to complete a task. Previous research has included interrupted chains to teach children with autism autoclitic mand frames for information about the location of missing items and persons in possession of the missing items (e.g., Lechago, Carr, Grow, Love, & Almason, 2010). We extended previous research by (a) measuring generalization of autoclitic frames both within and between tasks with multiple missing items that the participants could tact, (b) assessing whether or not the autoclitic frames would emerge following tact training of previously unknown items, and (c) evaluating if the participants could be taught to mand for the appropriate information to evoke the autoclitic frame for unknown items (i.e., “What am I missing?”). Following training, the two boys with autism who participated in this study were able to independently mand for known missing items without direct teaching and mand for information about unknown missing items.


Teaching Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder to Mand “Why?”

PRIYA PATIL (Caldwell University ), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell University), Anjalee Nirgudkar (Behavior Analysts of New Jersey)

For most children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), manding for information is an important skill that must be systematically taught. Although previous studies have evaluated interventions for teaching the mands Where?, What?, When?, Who?, and How?, to date no studies have demonstrated effective procedures for teaching the mand, “why?” The purpose of this study was to teach three children with ASD to mand, “why?” under relevant establishing operation (EO) conditions in three distinct scenarios: restricted access to preferred items, unusual events, and observation of emotional responses. A trial-unique procedure (Williams, Johnston & Saunders, 2006) was used for all scenarios to increase the value of information provided during all trials. A preference assessment was conducted for all three participants for one scenario in the study. The intervention was evaluated in the context of a multiple probe design across scenarios. Generalization was programmed for by interspersing generalization probe trials during each session. Generalization was assessed using novel preferred items, novel scenarios, and novel people. All three participants acquired the mand “why?” for all three scenarios. Generalization and maintenance were demonstrated for all three scenarios. Social validity measures were conducted to assess the goals, procedures, and outcome of the study.


Teaching Children With Autism to Mand for Information Using “Why?” as a Function if Denied Access

MEGAN PYLES (California State University, Sacramento), Amanda Chastain (California State University, Sacramento), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have difficulty developing complex verbal behavior, including question-asking. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a procedure to teach two children with ASD to ask “Why?” Typically, Why-questions are followed by causal information that describes the reason an event occurs. For this reason, we established causal information as a reinforcer by denying access to items without providing a reason. Participants were prompted to ask “Why?” and were provided information that led to access of preferred items. To ensure that “Why?” only occurred when information was valuable, we included a condition where access to items was restricted, but a reason for denied access was provided. Both participants learned to ask “Why?” when information was needed and refrained from asking “Why?” when information was not needed. Results from this study suggest that this procedure was successful in teaching children with ASD to ask “Why?”




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