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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #150
CE Offered: BACB
Complex Intraverbals Made Simple: The Many Methods to Teach Convergent and Divergent Intraverbal Responding to Persons With Learning Disabilities
Saturday, May 29, 2021
5:00 PM–6:50 PM
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Aarti Haresh Thakore (Central Texas Autism Center)
Discussant: Manish Vaidya (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Smita Awasthi, Ph.D.

Children with Autism and developmental disabilities, despite acquiring a sizeable repertoire of mands, tacts, echoics, listener skills and some simple intraverbal repertoire, fail to acquire more complex behavior (Sundberg, M.L., & Sundberg, C. A., 2011). These have substantial impact on the acquisition of academic and social skills. Michael, Palmer & Sundberg (2011) discuss the challenges in acquiring convergent multiply controlled intraverbals and divergent multiply controlled intraverbals. The first multiple baseline (MBL) study across behaviors (stimulus sets), with three school going participants with ASD, uses training on pre-requisites for convergent intraverbal responding. It evaluates the effect of training one or more pre-requisite skills, on acquisition of convergent intraverbal responding, as well as the remaining pre-requisites. The second MBL across behaviors study with two participants with ASD, uses differential observing responses (DOR) to train convergent intraverbal responding. This can possibly be interpreted as the application of Joint control described by Lowenkron (2006). The third presentation on teaching divergent intraverbal responding, with 2 participants with ASD, examines the value of addition of a fluency training component to tact prompts and transfer trials. The fourth, a discussion paper, reviews selected studies from literature to discuss the types of complex intraverbals and the technologies that can be used to teach them.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Identify the effects of training pre-requisites for convergent intraverbal responding 2. Describe the effect of Multiple Tact, Multiple Listener and DOR training on the acquisition of convergent intraverbal responding 3. Identify the effect of prompts, transfer of stimulus control and fluency training on divergent intraverbal responding

The Prerequisites to Convergent Intraverbal Responding: A Multiple Baseline Study With Three School-Going Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

SRIDHAR ARAVAMUDHAN (Behavior Momentum India), Smita Awasthi (Behavior Momentum India)

The development of advanced intraverbals requires responses under the control of multiple variables. Such control can be divergent, such as responses to an instruction like “name some vegetables” or, convergent, such as the response to an instruction like “Name an animal that runs fast” (Michael, Palmer & Sundberg, 2011). Sundberg, M.L., and Sundberg, C.A. (2011) proposed that training on four pre-requisite skills, Multiple Tact (MT), Multiple Listener (ML), Intraverbal categorization and Listener Compound Discrimination could facilitate the emergence of convergent intraverbal responses. DeSouza , Fisher & Rodriguez (2019), trained four 4 – 5 year old participants with ASD diagnosis on the pre-requisite skills and found that convergent intraverbal responding emerged with most participants after acquisition of mastery in the trained pre-requisite skills. The current study extends the DeSouza et al., (2019) study by training each pre-requisite skill and probing not only for the emergence of convergent intraverbal responding but the remaining pre-requisites. Three school going participants aged 6, 8 and 14 years, participated in the multiple baselines across behaviors study. Convergent Intraverbal responding emerged with only MT training for 2 of the three participants and with MT and ML training for the third. The study is continuing with second and third stimulus sets for the third participant. However, even with the emergence of correct convergent intraverbal responding, correct responding with one or more of the other pre-requisite skills did not emerge for the participants and had to be trained individually. The findings suggest that, not all the four are pre-requisites for convergent intraverbal responding.


The Effects of a Differential Observing Response on Acquisition of Convergent Intraverbal Responding in Two Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

SMITA AWASTHI (Behavior Momentum India), Sridhar Aravamudhan (Behavior Momentum India)

Kisamore and Colleagues (2013) demonstrated that Differential Observing Responses (DOR) can be effective as prompts to teach intraverbal responding to neurotypical pre-school children. The current study extends Kisamore and Colleagues study to school going children with autism. Two participants with ASD, aged 5 and 6 years participated in this study. Participants were trained to produce a DOR by repeating the key words from the antecedent verbal stimulus. They were then prompted to emit the correct response. The first participant’s DOR and convergent intraverbal responding improved from baseline levels in 14 sessions and intervention is continuing with the first stimulus set. The effect of the training on the acquisition of other hypothesized pre-requisites, Multiple Tact (MT), Multiple Listener (ML), Intraverbal categorization (IVC) and Listener Compound Discrimination (LCD), described in Sundberg and Sundberg (2011), after successful acquisition of convergent intraverbal responses are discussed. Baseline measurements are underway for the second participant.


Acquisition and Generalization of Divergent Intraverbal Responses in Children Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder

AARTI HARESH THAKORE (Central Texas Autism Center), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)

This study examined the effects of intraverbal instruction with a fluency training component on the acquisition and generalization of divergent intraverbal responding to function, feature, and class (FFC) questions with two children (6 and 8 years old) diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Instructional targets were chosen on the basis of prerequisite relations for intraverbal emergence in the participants’ repertoires. It was expected that with these prerequisites in place, direct establishment of divergent intraverbal responding might generalize across FFC questions. In baseline, participants emitted three or fewer intraverbal responses to most questions. Instruction with tact prompts and transfer-of-control trials initially produced only small increases in intraverbal responding, whereas the addition of fluency training quickly produced criterion-level performance. Further, both participants demonstrated generalization to untrained FFC questions. Pre- and post-tests revealed concomitant increases in responses to reverse intraverbal FFC questions and FFC questions presented in intraverbal webbing format.

Complex Intraverbals Made Simple- A Discussion Paper on the Methods to Teach Multiply Controlled Intraverbal Responses
ANUPAMA JAGDISH (Behavior Momentum india), Sridhar Aravamudhan (Behavior Momentum India), Smita Awasthi (Behavior Momentum India)
Abstract: This discussion paper reviews select peer-reviewed and published articles to identify the different instructional strategies that can be used by practitioners. These include the use of DOR (Kisamore, Karsten, Mann, & Conde, 2013), pre-requisites training (DeSouza, Fisher, & Rodriguez, 2018), problem solving (Sautter, LeBlanc, Jay, Goldsmith, & Carr, 2011), training on categories, exemplars and simple intraverbals, for emergence of complex intraverbals (Pérez-González, Belloso-Díaz, Caramés-Méndez, & Alonso-Álvarez, 2014), teaching tacts and simple intraverbals (Belloso-Díaz & Pérez-González, 2015), and the use of a blocked trials procedure (Ingvarsson, Kramer, Carp, Pétursdóttir, & Macias, 2016). The efficacy or otherwise of these procedures based on analysis of data in the studies is discussed. This presentation offers a range of tools for practitioners based on the type of complex intraverbals they need to teach and also explores additional approaches which could be beneficial.



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