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.

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11th International Conference; Dublin, Ireland; 2022

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Symposium #24
CE Offered: BACB
Behavior-Analytic Interventions With Infants and Young Children to Train Pivotal Social Skills
Friday, September 2, 2022
10:30 AM–12:20 PM
Meeting level 2; Wicklow Hall 1
Area: DEV/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: HAYLEY MAY NEIMY (Capilano University; Hollyburn Family Services; Shabani Institute)
Discussant: Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
CE Instructor: HAYLEY MAY NEIMY, Ph.D.
Abstract:

We have initiated, replicated, and extended a programmatic line of behavior-analytic research to establish early pivotal social skills (e.g., visual regard, eye contact, vocalizations, echoics, joint attention, and social referencing). The first presenter will share results on the use of shaping technology to establish direct line of sight (i.e., visual regard) among three young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The second presenter will describe the behavioral indicators of at-risk infants, overview the infant eye contact research, and the application of a synchronized reinforcement procedures to establish eye contact with typically developing infants and infants at-risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The third presenter will discuss the applications of a brief ABA-based parent treatment model for promoting early infant vocalizations and emerging echoic responses using contingent reinforcement in both single and dual-language speaking families. The fourth presenter will examine the acquisition of joint attention and social referencing repertoires via an operant-learning paradigm among infants and young children at-risk of ASD and Fragile X syndrome. The discussant will comment on these ongoing behavior-analytic programs of research on early social skills, highlight methodological challenges for basic and applied research, and suggest future directions and implications of this research.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): eye contact, infants, joint attention, vocalizations
Target Audience:

It is recommended that audience members will at minimum have: (1) completed a Bachelor's Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, Psychology, Speech and Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Special Education, or another relevant social science focusing on applications to neurotypical and neurodiverse infants and children, OR (2) currently work and practice in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, Psychology, Speech and Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Special Education, or another field with applications to neurotypical and neurodiverse infants and children.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe the different early markers and deficits observed among infants at-risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD); (2) Describe the use of operant reinforcement procedures for promoting infant eye contact and visual regard; (3) Describe the use of operant reinforcement procedures for promoting early infant vocalizations and emergent echoic repertoires; (4) Describe and operationalize joint attention and social referencing from a behavioral perspective; (5) Describe the use of operant reinforcement procedures for promoting joint attention and social referencing repertoires.
 
Shaping Visual Regard as a Behavioral Cusp
GLADYS WILLIAMS (CIEL), Richard E. Laitinen (Personalized Accelerated Learning Systems (PALS))
Abstract: The purpose of the study was to demonstrate the application of shaping technology to establish direct line of sight, “visual regard,” of others and objects as a propaedeutic participant in the non-linear development of attending/observational cusps. The participants were three boys classified with autism with ages ranging between three and five years old. All three learners attended an ABA-based special needs school for children with autism. A multiple probe design across participants was used to document the impact efficacy of the procedure, which consisted of several systematically applied steps, with some variations, per learner. Visual regard was observed in different settings and at different times to determine maintenance and generalization of the skill.
 
A Parent Training Procedure for Establishing Infant Eye Contact
JACQUELINE MERY (Kennedy Krieger Institute ), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
Abstract: It is well established that parent training results in more robust treatment outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorder and intervening earlier in development produces larger learning gains (e.g., MacDonald et al., 2014). Eye contact between caregiver and infant is crucial in the development of the skills required to build nonverbal and social communicative behaviors, such as joint attention and social referencing. Lower incidences of eye contact is a common characteristic identified with infants at risk of atypical development and ASD (reference of original research here). The current study demonstrates the utility of teaching parents to implement a simple synchronized reinforcement procedure to strengthen infant eye contact. The synchronized reinforcement procedure requires a brief parent training where parents are taught to contingently provide different modalities of stimulation such as smiling, verbal feedback, and touch in a conjugate manner (Pelaez, Gewirtz, Field et al., 1996). The synchronized reinforcer increases their child's eye contact duration in the natural environment. The results highlight the importance of contingent parental behaviors in the acquisition of early social skills for infants of neurotypical and atypical development.
 
Social Reinforcement Procedures to Establish Vocalizations and Echoics in Infants
HAYLEY MAY NEIMY (Capilano University; Hollyburn Family Services; Shabani Institute), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids), Mary Jane Weiss (Endicott College), Elisa Valle (Florida International University), Rebeca Pelaez (Florida International University)
Abstract: The present investigation compares the use of different operant reinforcers to promote vocalizations, echoic approximations, and echoics with topographical correspondence, and discusses these applications in a series of studies with both neurotypical and neurodiverse infants in both single and dual-speaking households. The results reliably confirmed findings from previous research (Pelaez, Virues, & Gewirtz, 2011a and 2011b; Neimy & Pelaez, 2021; Neimy et al., 2020) that contingent reinforcement procedures are more effective than non-contingent reinforcement and elicitation procedures, including “motherese”/”parentese” and vocal imitation. Implications of the present study highlight the important role of systematically and contingently arranging the social consequences delivered by the caregiver to promote the vocal behavior of an infant at-risk. Future research and application are discussed in the context of ASD prevention, optimal infant-caregiver environmental arrangements, misplaced contingencies, and the establishment of caregivers as social reinforcers.
 

Teaching Joint Attention Skills and Social Referencing in Toddlers and Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

KATERINA MONLUX (University of Washington; Oslo Metropolitian ), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
Abstract:

Deficits in social engagement are among the main developmental problems observed among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) Joint attention and social referencing skills are critical for the development of more complex communication and social interactions (Pelaez & Monlux, 2018) . The use of behavioral techniques and brief parent-infant or teacher-child engagement training has shown to be successful in promoting these social skills. We have explored different operant methodologies to teach joint attention and social referencing with particular attention to the contingent consequences maintaining the early learning of these skills (Monlux, et al., 2019). The current presentation reviews and extends previously published procedures for the training of joint attention and social referencing modeled after Pelaez and colleagues’ (2012) operant learning paradigm. Two different applications of the protocol are described, one in the natural environment using caregivers as therapists for children at risk of developing ASD and another using teachers and children with ASD in a classroom setting.

 

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