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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Symposium #78
CE Offered: BACB
Current Research on Mand Preference and Proficiency
Saturday, May 27, 2023
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 2A
Area: DDA/DEV; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Sara R. Jeglum (Blank Children's Hospital)
CE Instructor: Sara R. Jeglum, Ph.D.

Functional communication training is an effective and established method to teach an appropriate replacement behavior, including mands, for individuals with developmental disabilities. Clinicians choose a mand topography for a functional communication response based on many factors, including available resources, response effort, and the client’s previous learning history. However, few studies systematically examine how to select an appropriate mand topography. Furthermore, there is inadequate knowledge of how preference for mand topography influences proficiency and usage. Incorporating client preference for mand topography prior to intervention may lead to better outcomes, such as facilitating efficiency of behavior acquisition, supporting treatment sustainability, and maintaining treatment effects. Despite these potential benefits, proficiency and preference are rarely studied simultaneously, and therefore the predictive value of proficiency on preference is not well-understood. In this symposium, we evaluate how to systematically identify appropriate mand topographies, assess client preference for mand topographies in different regions of the United States, and examine the relationship between proficiency and preference for mand topographies. We propose future directions for clinicians and researchers in this line of work.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): Functional Communication, Mand Assessment, Preference Assessment, Proficiency
Target Audience:

Practitioners and applied researchers should have a strong understanding of functional communication training, preference assessments, and single-case design.

Learning Objectives: 1. Recognize systematic methods to identify appropriate mand modalities, mand proficiency, and mand preference. 2. Understand the importance of determining mand modality preference prior to intervention. 3. Explain the relationship between acquisition, proficiency, and preference in teaching mand modalities.
Teaching Mands: Correspondence Between Acquisition, Recommendations of Communication Modality Assessment, and Preference
CLAUDIA CAMPOS (Simmons University), Daniella Orozco (University of South Florida), Catia Cividini-Motta Cividini (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder do not always acquire vocal speech and may require an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) modality. The process used to identify an appropriate communication modality is not always systematic. Thus, the acquisition of the specified AAC modality may be slow. To date, there are a few methods that may be used to select an AAC modality. However, these methods consider different variables. For example, McGreevy et al. (2014) included a communication assessment within the Essential for Living® (EFL) manual which identifies and ranks appropriate AAC modalities for individuals. Nevertheless, to date, there is no research demonstrating that individuals will acquire the communication modality recommended by the EFL or comparing acquisition of this AAC modality to other frequently used AACs. Thus, this study aimed to compare acquisition of mands across three AACs, evaluate mands taught using the AAC modality recommended by the EFL, and determine whether participants preferred the AAC modality acquired in fewer sessions. Four children with limited vocal repertoires participated in this study. All participants acquired mands using the AAC modality recommended by the EFL. For all participants, rate of acquisition was similar across all modalities and preference was idiosyncratic.
Choice Matters! Including Client Preference in the Selection of a Communication Response
JESSICA PHAM TRAN (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Cynthia P. Livingston (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Sara R. Jeglum (Blank Children's Hospital), Mathew C. Luehring (University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus), Patricia F. Kurtz (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Brinea Charles (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: Functional communication training is a widely used function-based intervention to replace inappropriate and severe challenging behavior (Tiger et al., 2008). When considering which mand topography (e.g., vocal, card touch, augmentative and alternative communication device, etc.) to teach for a functional communication response, implementers may consider several factors such as, response effort, social significance, and topography. Prior research has investigated mand topography preference during pre-evaluation acquisition rates (Ringdahl et al., 2009) and choice allocation during functional communication training (Winborn-Kemmerer et al., 2009). However, few studies have sought to examine pre-evaluation mand topography preferences. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the validity of using a concurrent choice arrangement to determine reinforcer value for a mand topography within four children with autism spectrum disorder. The results of the mand topography assessment differed across participants, but a preferred topography was identified for all participants. Furthermore, the preferred topography was incorporated into subsequent functional communication training interventions for three of the participants and were found to be effective at decreasing problem behavior and increasing appropriate behavior.
The Relationship Between Mand Modality Proficiency and Mand Modality Preference Prior to Functional Communication Training
MATTHEW O'BRIEN (The University of Iowa), Joel Eric Ringdahl (University of Georgia), Kelly M. Schieltz (University of Iowa)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) studies often do not detail the selection process or the specific reason(s) for choosing a particular function communication response (FCR) modality. For those that do, a variety of factors have been used to guide the FCR selection process. Two commonly cited reasons for choosing a particular FCR modality are related to the user’s proficiency and preference for each modality. Although research suggests that FCT outcomes may be better when proficiency or preference are used to select an FCR modality, it is rare for both metrics to be considered prior to selecting the FCR modality. Moreover, it is possible that when both approaches are considered there may be contradictory results. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the mand proficiency and mand preference using standardized assessments for individuals with disabilities exhibiting communication deficits prior to implementing FCT. Further, we analyzed the relationship between these two measures, including the predictive value of modality proficiency on modality preference. We will discuss the results in relation to current research on proficiency and preference and provide recommendations for practice and future research.



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