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 #36
CE Offered: BACB
Learning to Play and Expanding Communication Skills: Important Targets for a School Setting
Saturday, May 25, 2024
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 105 AB
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kate Hewett (Jigsaw School)
CE Instructor: Kate Hewett, M.Ed.
Abstract: This symposium includes three studies conducted in a school for autistic children and young adults with an additional learning disability. Teachers within the school are encouraged to replicate research conducted in other settings (schools and clinics) and to evaluate the results of their work. They are encouraged to conduct basic research to determine the effectiveness of different tactics in the classroom and also advanced research in terms of inducing emergent behaviour. The first two studies focus on expanding social verbal behaviour for primary aged children through play. Study one focuses on the classroom play environment and how the stimuli available can evoke language. Study two expands these findings to the playground setting. The third evaluates the emergence of verbal cusps, specifically incidental bidirectional naming and observational learning, in young adults. A school setting that encourages and reinforces research within its setting clearly results in positive outcomes for the student population and continued professional development for staff.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Naming, Observational Learning, Play, Verbal Behaviour
Target Audience: An understanding of verbal operants and the verbal behaviour development theory
Learning Objectives: 1. Define how environmental stimuli can be manipulated to evoke verbal behaviour in the classroom. 2. Implement strategies to encourage engagement and social interaction in the playground setting. 3. Explain how to induce observational learning and naming.
The Effects of Changing the Classroom Play Environment on the Peer Interactions of Autistic Children
HAYLEY LOUISE LOCKE (Jigsaw CABAS School Queens University Belfast), Brian Fennell (Queen's University Belfast)
Abstract: Autistic children often face difficulties with early verbal development and social interaction. The science of behaviour analysis has developed procedures shown through research to help support and teach these skills. Interventions focusing solely on manipulating environmental antecedent stimuli are presented less frequently in the literature than those concerned with response consequences. This study evaluated if changes to the classroom environment would evoke prosocial behaviours during play. A multiple treatment reversal design was used to compare the presence of anthropomorphic toys, pet animals, and toys themed upon preferred interests, introduced on a central table, within the play area. Data were collected on social behaviour to peers for six autistic children in two primary classrooms. For five of the six participants all three conditions increased social behaviour in comparison to baseline. At the time of the study social interaction opportunities were limited due to the Covid-19 Pandemic restrictions, placing greater emphasis on safely encouraging opportunities within the classroom to ensure skill maintenance. Due to reported outcomes, educators, particularly in specialised settings, should focus on evaluating their classroom environment to ensure the contents and layout support children to maintain and generalise social skills. Further research on the benefits of class pets is encouraged.

A School-Wide Approach To Increasing Engagement in Play and Social Interactions in the Playground

KATE HEWETT (Jigsaw School), Mariann Szabo (Jigsaw CABAS School)

It is common for autistic children and those with learning disabilities to exhibit limited pretend play skills due to delays in their social repertoire combined with the tendency to emit stereotypical and repetitive sequences. Neurotypical children learn to play and develop related verbal operants by watching and engaging with others. Autistic children may have limited observational learning skills and if attending specialist settings may not access appropriate peer models. The current study took place in a special educational school with teaching primarily based on the scientific literature applied across repertoires with a focus on generalisation and novel responding. A multiple probe design was implemented to observe the effects of these evidence-based tactics on engaged play and social interactions in the playground. Overall baseline observations suggested that although some participants demonstrated pretend play responses and related verbal operants, these were limited. The study evaluated if activity schedules, scripts and modelling led to increased play responses and verbal operants or if a more intensive protocol was required. Implications of results are discussed with alternative approaches to further develop the impacts of the intervention highlighted.


A Comparison of the Effects of a Peer-Yoked Contingency Procedure and a Multiple Exemplar Instruction Procedure on the Emergence of Incidental Bidirectional Naming

RHYS JONES (Jigsaw School Nicholls State University), Grant Gautreaux (Nicholls State University)

This study looks to ascertain if it is possible to induce incidental bidirectional naming in Autistic young adults and begin to analyse a sufficient procedure. Specifically, the paper compared the effects of a peer-yoked contingency procedure and a multiple exemplar instruction (MEI) procedure on the acquisition of incidental bidirectional naming (Inc-BiN) and observational learning. Four autistic children with learning disabilities, aged 16 to 18, participated in the study and two were allocated to each procedure. Participants attended a specialist setting for pupils aged 3-19 years old. A pre and post probe design was used across participants to identify if incidental bidirectional naming and observational learning would emerge, and which pair of participants would acquire these cusps the fastest. Results showed that both multiple exemplar instruction and the peer-yoked contingency procedure were successful in inducing the missing cusp Inc-BiN with these four participants. The peer-yoked contingency procedure was shown to be the more efficient procedure for inducing these cusps. Procedural limitations and future research are also discussed.




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