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 #207
CE Offered: BACB
Analyses of Verbal Behavior in Complex Cases
Sunday, May 26, 2024
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 105 AB
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: April N. Kisamore (Hunter College, CUNY)
Discussant: Samantha Bergmann (University of North Texas )
CE Instructor: April N. Kisamore, Ph.D.
Abstract: As research in verbal behavior continues to advance, we find ourselves asking questions about the more complex cases including language acquisition beyond the elementary verbal operants, identification of the most effective and efficient teaching procedures, the role of learning histories on skill acquisition, and considerations in the rehabilitation of language skills. Research in these areas continues to develop and inform practice. Researchers in the first paper of this symposium taught qualifying autoclitics to children with autism spectrum disorder and assessed generalization of those qualifying autoclitics. Researchers in the second paper compared sequential and simultaneous methods for teaching two foreign languages to college students. Researchers in the third paper, controlled for and manipulated the learning histories of neurotypical adults to assess the effects on acquisition of convergent intraverbals. Researchers in the fourth paper assessed intraverbals in adults with aphasia or other acquired brain injury to provide input on optimal strategies for rehabilitating those lost repertoires.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): aphasia, autoclitics, convergent intraverbals, foreign language
Target Audience: (1) Basic to moderate understanding of Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior (2) Consumption of verbal behavior literature on elementary verbal operants
Learning Objectives: (1) Identify strategies to program for generalization of qualifying autoclitics. (2) Describe sequential and simultaneous instruction. (3) Speak to the role of learning histories in skill acquisition. (4) List considerations for rehabilitation of language skills.

Teaching and Generalization of Autoclitics for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

BRIANNA KATHERINE DUSZYNSKI (Marquette University), Kara Burrows (Marquette University), Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University), Jessi Reidy (Marquette University), Mercedes Rios (Marquette University), Axel Meng (Marquette University)

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently have deficits in verbal behavior across operants. Skill acquisition services typically focus on teaching elementary verbal operants of verbal behavior such as mands, tact, echoics, and intraverbals. however, less focus has been placed on methods to teach autoclitics. An autoclitic is a verbal operant that alters the effects of other verbal behavior on the listener. The current investigation taught a qualifying autoclitic (i.e., an autoclitic mand) to two participants with ASD and assessed generalization of the autoclitic across conditions. A multiple baseline design across contexts was utilized. We identified three to four establishing operations (EO) conditions that were trained one at a time. Abolishing operations (AO) conditions were also included to ensure that the participant did not emit the autoclitic under unnecessary conditions. Next, generalization was tested with the untrained conditions. The results of one participant showed acquisition of the autoclitic mand during two trained conditions and generalization to the untrained conditions. The second participant’s treatment is underway.

A Comparison of Teaching Two Foreign Languages Simultaneously and Sequentially to Young Adults
TIANJIAO LI (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Mirela Cengher (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Iman Ahmed (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Xuehua Zhao (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Abstract: This talk will discuss the optimal procedures for teaching adults two languages. We recruited college students who are native English speakers with no prior learning history in Chinese and Japanese. In the first condition (the sequential condition), participants learned to tact stimuli in one language prior to learning to tact the same stimuli in the other language. In the second condition (the simultaneous condition), participants learned to tact stimuli in both languages concurrently. We conducted both between- and within-subject replications. We found that both conditions were effective; however, participants learned tacts in the sequential more efficiently than in the simultaneous condition. The within-subject replication data revealed a “learning to learn” phenomenon, whereby participants learned a second set of tacts more efficiently across conditions; however, the sequential condition continued to produce more efficient acquisition when compared to the simultaneous one. The simultaneous condition facilitated better bidirectional intraverbals than the sequential condition.
The Effects of Learning Histories on Acquisition of Convergent Intraverbals: A Comparison of Stimulus Arrangements
SAMANTHA WALSH (Manhattan Children Center), April N. Kisamore (Hunter College, CUNY), Lauren K. Schnell-Peskin (Hunter College), Adrienne Jennings (Daemen University), Nicole Pantano (Assumption University)
Abstract: It has been suggested that when teaching convergent intraverbals to children with autism spectrum disorder, researchers carefully construct stimulus sets such that they ensure responses to all relevant components within the auditory stimulus (i.e., that they overlap). However, this type of teaching arrangement might facilitate restricted stimulus control. To evaluate this, Aguirre et al. (2019) compared a simple arrangement in which stimuli did not share overlapping components with a complex arrangement in which stimuli shared overlapping components. Overall, their results showed no substantial difference in stimulus arrangements. It is possible that it is not the arrangement itself that is problematic, but rather different learning histories of participants and/or inadequate or missing prerequisite skills. The only way to accurately determine which variables are relevant is to control each one. Thus, the purpose of this study was to replicate Aguirre et al. (2019) but in a translational format, using arbitrary stimuli, with adult participants who had no known language or developmental delays. To extend Aguirre et al., we taught prerequisite speaker skills prior to assessing the effects of an overlapping target stimulus arrangement and a non-overlapping target stimulus arrangement. Our results indicate that teaching with overlapping stimuli might impact or delay acquisition of convergent intraverbals. This finding is preliminary and additional research is warranted.

Intraverbal Assessment for Persons With Aphasia or Other Acquired Brain Injury

BARBARA E. ESCH (Esch Behavioral Consultants, LLC), Tracie L. Lindblad (ONTABA), Brittany Clark (Evergreen Communication Therapy, Ltd.), Zareen Ali (Pediatric Rehabilitation Services)

An intraverbal assessment was administered to older adults with aphasia, using a hierarchy of questions that required increasingly complex verbal discriminative stimulus control. Five categories of errors were defined and analyzed for putative stimulus control, with the aim to identify requisite assessment components leading to more efficient and effective treatments. Evocative control over intraverbal error responses was evident throughout the database, as shown by commonalities within four distinct categories of errors; a fifth category, representing a narrow majority of errors, was less clear in terms of functional control over responses. Generally, questions requiring increasingly complex intraverbal stimulus control resulted in weaker verbal performance for those with aphasia. A new 9-point intraverbal assessment model is proposed, based on Skinner’s functional analysis of verbal behavior. The study underscores that loss or disruption of a formerly sophisticated language repertoire presents differently than the fledgling language skills and errors of new learners, such as typically developing children and those with autism or developmental disabilities. Thus, we would do well to consider that rehabilitation may require a different approach to intervention than habilitation. We offer several thematic topics for future research in this area.




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