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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Paper Session #564
Verbal Behavior and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, May 25, 2020
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 206
Area: AUT
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Thea H. Davis (Autism Bridges)

Teaching Conversational Skills to Adolescents and Young Adults With Autism: A Script-Fading Procedure

Domain: Applied Research
MICHAEL NICOLOSI (Queen's University Belfast; Voce nel Silenzio Onlus), Karola Dillenburger (Queen's University Belfast)

The number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is growing and related communication problems affect all spheres of their lives. There is evidence that script fading procedures are effective in teaching conversational skills to children with autism aged 2 to 15 years, but there is little evidence of its effectiveness for adolescents and young adults (aged 15 to 23 years of age). The first aim of the present study is to demonstrate that script fading can be applied with success to adolescents and young adults with autism. The second aim of the study is to establish internal validity for a new data collection procedure that can be easily and practically implemented in applied setting, particularly for intensive interventions. Findings showed that adolescents and young adult with autism can benefit from script fading procedure as do younger participants and that the new data collection method is useful to evidence this process.


Teaching Pronouns: Who's on First?

Domain: Applied Research
THEA H. DAVIS (Autism Bridges; Simmons University)

Individuals diagnosed with autism inherently demonstrate deficits in language acquisition, including errors in the use of personal pronouns such as you and me. Pronouns are particularly difficult for individuals with autism to learn because pronouns require a deictic shift, or the ability to detect a context change even when parts of the discriminative stimulus remain static. Acquiring pronouns also requires perspective taking skills. This presents unique challenges to teaching this skill to individuals with autism as deictic relations are determined by the perspective of the individual. This research was conducted to study the effectiveness of adapted methods outlined by Lund and Schnee (2014) for teaching pronouns you and me to individuals with autism who were participating in applied behavior analysis (ABA) programs. Generalization to novel stimuli and instructors were also assessed. This research attempts to demonstrate that using the adapted teaching procedures was effective for certain learners to accurately use the personal pronouns you and me.


Robot-Mediated Intraverbal Training for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Domain: Applied Research
JESSICA ANN KORNEDER (Oakland University), Wing-Yue Louie (Oakland University), Ibrahim Abbas (Oakland University )

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 59 children are diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States. The field of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) has scientifically proven treatments to help address the deficits and excesses associated with ASD. Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Natural Environment Teaching (NET) are applications of the principles of ABA in structured teaching environments. However, such methods require significant time from healthcare professionals, which can limit the number of individuals that professionals can positively impact. Socially assistive robots could be a supportive technology to professionals as they provide care to individuals with ASD. Numerous socially assistive robots have already been developed and utilized for interventions for individuals with ASD. Some applications of these robots have included: 1) imitation therapy 2) improving social skills 3) encouraging self-initiated social interactions 4) reducing challenging behaviors and 5) improving emotion recognition. In general, these robot-based interventions have had positive outcomes with children and adolescents with ASD, which has been the main demographic for such interventions. To date, socially assistive robots have not been utilized for intraverbal training with children with ASD. The purpose of this study is to assess if socially assistive robots can teach individuals with ASD to answer general information “WH-questions". Additionally, the study aimed to assess if the outcomes could generalize to human teachers. Through this study, a multiple-baseline design using a socially assistive robot was effective in teaching three preschoolers with ASD to answer three “WH-questions” within 5-7 teaching sessions and did generalize to the human teachers.

Treatment Outcome Research to Evaluate Verbal Behavior Intervention for Autism: Buying In or Selling Out?
Domain: Applied Research
MICHELLE ENNIS SORETH (Rowan University), Mary Louise Louise E. Kerwin (Rowan University)
Abstract: The remarkable success of behavior analytic interventions for individuals with autism has in part been a result of adherence to single-subject methodology. Recently, autism intervention investigators from other disciplines have conducted federally-funded, large-scale treatment outcome studies, and some have reported impressive early successes. Behavior analysts studying autism intervention have largely been excluded from federal research funding in recent years, as funding agencies tend to favor group design studies, particularly randomized clinical trials (RCT). In this presentation, risks and benefits of RCTs in the evaluation behavior analytic treatment models for autism will be discussed. Data from a series of RCTs conducted by the authors evaluating a model of early behavioral intervention for autism based on Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior (i.e., the Verbal Behavior Approach) will be presented, including data from a Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial (SMART), a dynamic RCT variant that may be more acceptable to behavior analysts compared traditional RCTs. Finally, a research agenda framework for behavior analysts will be presented as a call to action to engage in treatment outcome research in ways that remain consistent with behavior analytic principles and values as autism intervention research continues to expand beyond our discipline.



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