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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #97
CE Offered: BACB
Teaching Imitation Skills and Choice-Making in Home-Based Settings
Saturday, May 25, 2024
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 113 C
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kelley Henry (Beacon ABA Services, Inc.)
CE Instructor: Alicen Cutting, Ph.D.
Abstract: Young toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder often demonstrate skill deficits across multiple domains including communication, social interactions and play. However, there has been minimal research conducted on how to effectively provide effective behavioral treatment to this young population. Three studies were conducted with young toddlers diagnosed with autism which investigated skill acquisition programming, specifically imiation of actions with objects which included allowing the participants to choose their own stimuli, preference assessments to identify preferred stimuli and the stability of preferences across assessment types and time, and skill generalization of learned skills across novel people, including therapists and parents. Participants in the three studies were under the age of three and enrolled in early intensive behavioral intervention services with teaching sessions being conducted in their home settings. Two studies implemented an alternating treatment design, and one study implemented a repeated measures design. Results illustrate the importance of studying this young population.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience: The target audience for this symposium are clinicians who have 1-3 years of experience providing behavior analytic services to individuals diagnosed with autism or clinicians who would like to learn about services to young children receiving early intensive behavior interventions.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) define interventions used within early intensive behavioral interventions (2) define types of preference assessments and implementation with young toddlers with autism (3) define generalization across persons and implement with young toddlers with autism.

Does Choice Positively Impact Language Development and Skill Generalization in Young Toddlers With Autism

ALICEN CUTTING (Beacon ABA Services)

Imitation is often a skill deficit for toddlers diagnosed with autism. These deficits often lead to delays in language development and play skills. and are correlated with underdeveloped joint attention abilities; therefore, it is crucial that young children diagnosed with autism learn basic imitation so that other critical developmental skills can emerge. This current study explored the impact of stimuli choice when teaching imitation skills to toddlers diagnosed with autism to determine if it improved their imitative repertoire, increased language production and led to skill generalization. Three newly diagnosed children with autism spectrum disorder, between the ages of 2.3 years and 2.9 years, participated in this study. An alternating treatment design was utilized, and data was collected on the acquisition of imitation skills using child-selected stimuli and stimuli selected by the experimenter. Upon completion of the study, the participants acquired the imitation of three actions using a variety of stimuli; however, there was no clear difference when the participant’s choice of stimuli was present therefore demonstrating that choice of stimuli did not increase imitative skill acquisition. Study results continue to support the importance and effectiveness of ABA principles and methodologies to successfully teach skills to toddlers with autism.


Stability of Rank Order Selections Across Preference Assessments With Toddlers Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder

JEFFREY FOSSA (Beacon ABA Services)

Despite an emphasis on early intervention in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder and the need to try to determine potential reinforcers for young learners, there is little research on preference assessment results with toddlers. The present study examined the stability of rank-ordered selections from four different preference assessments (paired choice, multiple stimulus without replacement, free operant, and response restriction) across seven administrations of each assessment using a repeated measures design. Three children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder who were under the age of 3 upon the onset participated in this research. Consecutive ranked hierarchies were tested for statistical significance for each of the four preference assessments. Results were not found to be statistically significant, indicating that ordered selections made over time were not stable. These findings may suggest that results from formalized preference assessments have limited applicability when carried over across sessions for young children with autism.

Generalization Across Persons: A Look at Training Schedules and Generalization to Novel Persons
JULIE MARSHALL (BEACON Services of Connecticut)
Abstract: Generalization of skills to novel persons is an important skill for children with Autism. An alternative alternating treatments design was used to teach participants three imitation skills to assess how the trainer schedule affects generalization when probed by a novel person and the participant’s parent. Baseline probe data was collected for each of the three imitation skills as well as a control skill. One probe occurred with a parent, novel person and the two trainers. In the acquisition phase, the first skill was taught by one trainer alone and the remaining two were taught by two trainers with varying schedules. Once mastery was observed, final probes occurred with each trainer, the novel person and the same parent that conducted the baseline probe. Participants were between the ages of 24 to 36 months old, had a diagnosis of Autism and were receiving in-home early intervention services. At baseline, very low levels of imitation were observed. When probed by novel persons after mastery, all skills were exhibited at higher levels than baseline. Preliminary data show higher rates of independent responding for the skill taught by one trainer alone. These findings contribute to our understanding of how to promote generalization across different people.



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