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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50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

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Symposium #293
CE Offered: BACB
Establishing Generalized Imitation and Observational Learning in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Critical Repertoires for Future Learning
Sunday, May 26, 2024
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 113 C
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Debra Paone (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center)
Discussant: Jaime DeQuinzio (Alpine Learning Group )
CE Instructor: Debra Paone, Ph.D.
Abstract:

Generalized imitation and observational learning are critical repertoires for future learning. Children with autism display notable deficits in these areas which, ultimately, impact their acquisition of important communication, social, academic, and self-help skills. The first presentation describes an assessment of component skills necessary for observational learning under several conditions. The assessment was conducted with two children with autism and assessment results were used to identify specific component skills targeted for teaching. For both participants, immediate increases in observational learning were observed in the post-assessment following targeted teaching. However, modifications to the post-assessment were required to produce or maintain criterion levels of responding. The second presentation describes the development of a comprehensive intervention called Emergent Multi-Class Imitation Training (EMIT) for establishing generalized imitation in autistic children and presents early findings from efficacy evaluations. EMIT is a manualized training protocol designed to rapidly facilitate generalized imitation in autistic children that supervised ABA technicians can implement with a high degree of procedural fidelity. Clinical implications of the two studies and directions for future will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

BCBAs, RBTs, clinical practitioners

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Define and explain the importance of generalized imitation and observational learning repertoires for young children. (2) Identify component skills of observational learning and how to assess those skills. (3) Identify features of an imitation training approach that facilitates the development of generalized imitation.
 

Development of a Comprehensive Intervention for Establishing Generalized Imitation in Young Autistic Children

MEGHAN DESHAIS (Rutgers University), Debra Paone (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center), Stephanie Ortiz (Rutgers University)
Abstract:

Autistic children exhibit meaningful deficits in generalized imitation; it has been proposed as a core deficit of autism. Deficits in generalized imitation have immediate and long-term impacts on the developmental trajectories of young autistic children because generalized imitation is not a singular skill, rather it is a foundational repertoire needed for future learning. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) clinicians are frequently tasked with helping autistic children acquire generalized imitation. Unfortunately, many autistic children do not acquire this repertoire despite years of intervention. One possible reason for this is that, at present, ABA clinicians do not have access to an evidence-based training protocol for establishing generalized imitation in autistic children. We have developed a comprehensive intervention called Emergent Multi-Class Imitation Training (EMIT) for establishing generalized imitation in autistic children. EMIT is a manualized training protocol designed to rapidly facilitate generalized imitation in autistic children that supervised ABA technicians can implement with a high degree of procedural fidelity. EMIT is the first protocol designed for clinical use that reflects five decades of research on imitation learning. We will describe the process used to develop the EMIT intervention and present data from early efficacy evaluations.

 
An Assessment and Intervention Model for Observational Learning
ELIZABETH M. SANSING (Marcus Autism Center; Emory School of Medicine), Karen A. Toussaint (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Observational learning (OL) allows an individual to acquire novel responses by observing others’ behavior and the corresponding consequences. The complexity of skills involved with OL varies with the learning context. A learner may observe modeled responses to both trained (known) and untrained (unknown) stimuli and they may observe both reinforced (correct) and nonreinforced (incorrect) responses. The purpose of this study was to develop assessment and training procedures for OL component skills when the learner observes a combination of learning contexts: reinforced and nonreinforced responses to both trained and untrained stimuli. Two children with autism, Tom and David, participated. We assessed the following component skills in the context of tact trials: (1) Discriminating trained and untrained stimuli, (2) attending to the modeled performance, (3) discriminating consequences, and (4) conditionally responding based upon a name call. Next, we trained the component skill(s) for which the learner’s performance did not meet criterion and then reassessed for OL. For both participants, immediate increases in OL were observed; however, modifications to the post-assessment (differential observing response for consequences and/or differential reinforcement) were required to produce (Tom) or maintain (David) criterion levels of responding. Interpretations of these outcomes, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.
 

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