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 #303
CE Offered: BACB
Further Investigations to Derived Relational Responding, Verbal Operants, and Autism Severity
Sunday, May 26, 2019
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom CD South
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Zhihui Yi (Arizona State University)
CE Instructor: Albert Malkin, M.A.

The present symposium investigates the extent to which Derived Relational Responding (and related tests for) has implications to the overall acquisition of trained relations for individuals with autism and symptom severity. Further, the symposium provides an exploratory analysis of the oft-cited competing viewpoints concerning the independency or interdependency of Skinner's verbal operants.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Autism, DRR, PEAK, VB-MAPP
Target Audience:

intermediate-advanced behavior analysts


The Relative Effectiveness of Repeating Tests for Derived Language Relations During the Acquisition of Trained Relations in Children With Autism

(Applied Research)
CHANTAL RAINFORD (Southern Illinois University-Carbondale), Ayla Schmick (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

The present study sought to examine the use of two teaching procedures as methods of increasing relational responding in children with developmental disabilities. We compared one procedure that presented test probes for combinatory entailment and transformation of function probes throughout the acquisition of directly trained A-B and B-C relations. In the second procedure test probes were withheld until the learner achieved mastery criteria for the directly trained A-B and B-C relations. Results show that all three participants achieved mastery criterion across both procedures and demonstrated the emergence of mutual entailment, combinatory entailment, and transformation of stimulus function. The presentation of entailed and transformation probes resulted in faster acquisition of directly trained and test relations. An account of current research and implications of these findings is provided.


The Relationship Between Derived Relational Responding and Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptom Severity

(Applied Research)
KWADWO O. BRITWUM (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University), Caleb Stanley (Southern Illinois University), Anne Sheerin (Southern Illinois University), Becky Barron (Southern Illinois University)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptom severity has been linked with lower IQ (Mayes & Calhoun, 2011). The prevalence of maladaptive behavior may change as a function of IQ as demonstrated by Ando and Yoshimora (1978). Belisle, Dixon, and Stanley (2018); and Dixon, Belisle, and Stanley (2018) recently demonstrated the relationship between derived relational responding skills and intelligence in individuals with ASD. Derived relational responding provides a behavior analytic conceptualization of intelligence and how these skills develop. The current investigation extends the work of Dixon, Belisle and Stanley (2018) by evaluating the relationship between participants’ abilities to engage in derived relational responding and ASD symptom severity as indicated by the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale-Third Edition (GARS-3). Derived Relational Responding skills were assessed using the Promoting the Emergence of Advanced Knowledge Transformation Assessment (Dixon, 2016). Assessments were conducted across 13 individuals (more data is being collected, targeted sample size is 35) with ASD. The current results indicated a negative correlation between PEAK-T Expressive Pre-Assessment scores and GARS-3 (r = -.594, p < 0.05), 28 % variance in GARS-3 scores were also predicted by PEAK-T Expressive Pre-assessment scores (r2 = .283). These findings provide some preliminary implications for the treatment of individuals with ASD.

Exploratory Factor Analysis of the VB-MAPP: Support for the Interdependency of Elementary Verbal Operants
(Applied Research)
ALBERT MALKIN (Southern Illinois University ), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University), Joshua R. Hollie (Southern Illinois University), Caleb Stanley (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Competing viewpoints on the independency or interdependency of Skinner’s verbal operants have been discussed in the literature and with empirical support for both positions generated using single-case research methods. Our study provides support for the interdependency of the verbal operants using items contained in the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) as a measure of broader skill acquisition in each verbal operant category and across complexity levels. The result of an Exploratory Factor Analysis conducted across 85 participants (Aged 5 to 22) with autism suggested that the verbal operants were not independent constructs; rather, items appeared to cluster in terms of skill complexity producing a best-fit 2-factor model. Together with prior research showing untrained cross-operant transfers, results fail to support the validity of distinguishing between the verbal operant categories as independent constructs, with implications for how behavior scientists and analysts describe language development, as well as in the assessment and treatment of language deficits for individuals with autism.



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