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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #238
CE Offered: BACB
Developmental Variability and Developmental Cascades: Lessons from Infants with an Older Sibling with Autism
Sunday, May 28, 2023
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 1
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Alice Shillingsburg (Munroe-Meyer Institute, UNMC)
CE Instructor: Jana Iverson, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: JANA IVERSON (Boston University)
Abstract: The onset of sitting and walking are among the most transformational events of infancy. In this talk, I will present findings from research designed to examine ways in which advances in these two motor skills afford infants foundational opportunities and experiences that benefit communicative and language development. More generally, these results reveal how the achievement of new motor skills exerts far-reaching, cascading effects on development that extend beyond the individual to impact the behavior of social partners and the broader communicative environment. Much of the data come from longitudinal studies of an exceptionally interesting group of infants, those with an older sibling with autism. Some of these infants will themselves eventually receive an autism diagnosis, and many exhibit developmental delays, especially in language and communication. Finally, I will argue that improving our understanding of the links between early motor, communicative, and language development in a way that focuses on the constant, dynamic, and complex interplay between developing infants and their environments is critical for the development of effective intervention for infants and toddlers with or at risk for developmental delays.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts, BCBAs, clinicians and practitioners, and researchers

Learning Objectives: Upon conclusion of this session, participants will be able to: a) describe the concept of developmental cascades; b) identify ways in which advances in early appearing foundational skills can influence change in other domains of development, in caregiver behavior, and in the learning environment; and c) describe ways in which small, subtle delays in foundational behaviors may impact the emergence and later development of interrelated skills and the learning environment.
JANA IVERSON (Boston University)
Jana M. Iverson, Ph.D. is Associate Dean for Research for the College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College and Professor of Physical Therapy at Boston University. Her research, funded by NICHD, NIDCD, and Autism Speaks, focuses primarily on the interface between the development of early motor skills and the emergence of communication and language in neurotypical development and in children with or at risk for developmental disorders. Dr. Iverson has published a co-edited book and more than 100 articles and book chapters. She is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Child Language and Language Learning and Development. Since 1991, she has served as an international investigator at the CNR in Rome, Italy. Dr. Iverson was awarded the University of Pittsburgh’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award in 2007 and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2018. She is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.



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