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 #325
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Applications & Advances in Verbal Behavior Research
Monday, May 29, 2023
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3A
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Aarti Haresh Thakore (Central Texas Autism Center)
Discussant: April N. Kisamore (Hunter College)
CE Instructor: April N. Kisamore, Ph.D.

Skinner’s theoretical analysis of Verbal Behavior is used as a foundation for establishing and expanding language and communication skills. The verbal behavior approach has been empirically evaluated by many verbal behavior researchers, but there is still a need for more research to establish the basic building blocks of conversation skills, categorization skills, and other conditional discriminations. An important procedure that is commonly used when teaching such complex skills is error correction and its variations that can lead to more effective and efficient skill acquisition. Thus, the purpose of this symposium is to discuss recent advances in verbal behavior research on the aforementioned topics. The talks will provide recommendations for clinical practice and recommendations for future research.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Autism, Conditional Discrimination, Intraverbals, Stimulus Equivalence
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1) Design interventions to establish conversation skills, categorization skills, and listener discriminations based on recent applications in verbal behavior research. 2) When teaching such complex skills, they will have a better understanding of the role of error correction and its variations that can lead to more effective and efficient skill acquisition. 3) They will be able to engage in clinical practice or conduct future research that is based on recent advances in verbal behavior research.

Advances in Teaching Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Advanced Conversation Skills

JESEY MARIE GOPEZ (Marquette University), Stephanie A. Hood (Marquette University ), Michelle Castillo (University of North Texas), Karen A. Toussaint (University of North Texas), Sylvia Aquino (Marquette University ), Samantha Bergmann (University of North Texas )

Hood et al. 2022 observed high levels of topic initiations of shared interest. That is, repeated initiations on the same topic once conversation has moved away from the exhausted topic. This was likely due to an FR-1 schedule of high-quality attention for the shared interest topic. In the present study, we evaluated a lag infinity schedule to promote increase variability. That is conversation partners provided conversational attention, high-quality, and low-quality attention, to increase variability for conversation topics initiated by the participant. We used behavior skills training (Hood et al., 2017) and self-questioning (Mann & Karsten, 2020) to promote foundational conversation skills. Three of our participants, Jack, Tony, and Jason, were young adults with autism spectrum disorder. For Jack, we saw an increase in the number of different topics initiated. We observed low to moderate levels of following the conversation partner- initiated conversation for Tony and Jason. Jack engaged in moderate to high levels of responding for following the conversation partner-initiated conversation. For shifting the conversation, all participants engaged in low and variable levels of responding. Following intervention, we observed an increase in following conversation partner-initiated topics for Tony and Jason, and a robust increase in shifting the conversation for Jack and Tony. All participants increase topic initiations of the shared topics and of conversation partner’s preferred topics following teaching. We observed the skills transfer to conversations with peers not associated with intervention.


Stimulus Equivalence in Practice: Teaching Categorization Skills to Three Preschool-Aged Children

JOY CLAYBORNE (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Mirela Cengher (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Lesley A. Shawler (Southern Illinois University)

Previous research has confirmed the effectiveness of equivalence-based instruction (EBI), however, most studies have been conducted with adult participants teaching arbitrary stimulus classes. More research is needed to confirm the external validity of EBI with younger participants, teaching clinically significant skills in applied settings. The current study bridges those gaps. Specifically, our aims were 1) to use EBI procedures to teach preschool children with autism to form stimulus classes consisting of age-appropriate categories, and 2) to evaluate the effectiveness of transfer of function within these classes, and 3) to implement these procedures using easily accessible table-top procedures. Creating derived relations between stimuli and demonstrating transfer of function are important outcomes considering that the instruction most children with autism require can be time consuming and costly. Therefore, our procedures are easily transportable to clinical settings given their practicality and accessibility.


Transfer of Discriminative Stimulus Control From Object Imitation to Listener Responding in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Jessica Quintanilla (Central Texas Autism Center), AARTI THAKORE (Central Texas Autism Center), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University), Christy Ho (Central Texas Autism Center), Mariel Mireles (CTAC)

The objectives of early language programs often include teaching children receptive identification or listener discrimination across common and preferred items (e.g., Sundberg, 2008). In a typical errorless procedure, the teacher delivers an instruction “Find the truck” and prompts the child either by pointing, gesturing, or full physical guidance to touch the targeted object. However, a few studies have found that some learners with severe language delay often struggle to acquire listener discrimination (Carp & Petursdottir, 2012; Vedora & Barry, 2016). Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of object imitation in discrimination to teach listener discrimination. Two participants who already had object imitation skill but did not acquire listener discrimination skill using the errorless teaching were selected. The instructor modeled the play-based functional action using object imitation across targeted objects, followed by the listener discrimination trial, to transfer the discriminative control from object imitation to listener responding. The data was evaluated using multiple baseline design. Results of this study showed that object imitation in discrimination was successful in establishing listener discrimination across both the participants.

A Comparison of the Efficiency of Error-Correction Procedures Across Skills
JESSI REIDY (Marquette University), Kirsten Rebecca Lloyd (Marquette University), Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University), Ashley Van Handel (Marquette University), Chloe Slotten (Marquette University), Brittany Brown (Marquette University), Lauren Casper (Marquette University), Makayla Griffin (Marquette University)
Abstract: A variety of error-correction procedures have been shown to be effective across learners, and the inclusion of error correction in trial-based instruction has often led to more efficient acquisition (Carroll et al., 2015; Kodak et al., 2016). Findings have shown that error correction is an effective strategy to teach a variety of skills including sight words (Kodak et al., 2016), tacts (Carroll et al., 2015), intraverbals (Kodak et al., 2012), and auditory-visual conditional discriminations (McGhan & Lerman, 2013). However, inconsistent results have been found regarding which error-correction procedures are more effective and efficient across learners (McGhan and Lerman, 2013). Although previous research has shown error correction to be effective across skills, there is minimal evidence regarding the consistency of the most efficacious and efficient error-correction procedure across skills for the same learner. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to evaluate the efficacy and efficiency of three error-correction procedures compared to a control condition across three different skills: tacts, intraverbals, and listener responses. Results indicated consistency in the most efficient procedure within the same skill and some consistency in the most efficient procedure across skills.



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