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 #288
CE Offered: BACB
Updated Considerations When Mand Training
Sunday, May 26, 2024
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 111 AB
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Ciobha A. McKeown (California State University, Sacramento)
CE Instructor: Ciobha A. McKeown, Ph.D.
Abstract: It can be argued that the mand is the most important verbal operant. Mands are ubiquitous in everyday interactions and allow an individual to communicate their needs. Developing a mand repertoire (i.e., mand training) is critical for certain populations who experience language delays (e.g., autism spectrum disorder) or who may primarily cry to communicate their needs (e.g., infants and toddlers). This symposium comprises three lines of research on improving the efficacy of procedures related to mand training. First, Mei-Hua Li will discuss the relevance of indicating responses when mand training and if indicating responses are correlated with an establishing operation. Carley Smith will present data on whether waiting for an indicating response improves the efficacy in developing early mands, specifically manual signs, in infants and toddlers with and without developmental delays. Finally, Caleb Davis will discuss if the quick transfer procedure, commonly used when teaching other verbal operants, also is efficacious when developing mands in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): autism, mand training, verbal behavior
Target Audience: Board Certified Behavior Analysis, Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analsts
Learning Objectives: 1. Participants will be able to describe different topographies of indicating responses 2. Participants will be able to differentiate between the efficacy of mand training when waiting for an indicating response. 3. Participants will be able to describe the utility of the quick transfer procedure when mand training.
Indicating Responses as Correlates of Motivating Operations in Mand Training
MEI-HUA LI (Simmons University ), Sarah Frampton (University of Nebraska Omaha), Judah B. Axe (Simmons University), Caleb Davis (Simmons University), Olga Meleshkevich (Simmons University)
Abstract: Mand training requires the presence of an establishing operation (EO), yet EOs can be difficult to observe. An individual who cannot mand often points to, approaches, or leads an adult to a reinforcer, which likely indicates an EO for that reinforcer. Observing pointing to or approaching a reinforcer as an indicating response (IR) prior to prompting a mand increases the likelihood that the prompt is delivered in the presence of an EO. Therefore, when prompts are faded, the new response is more likely to function as a mand (i.e., evoked by an EO). Although IRs are referenced in the literature, albeit under many different names, we found no prior conceptualizations of IRs. Therefore, we describe and define IRs, including topographies of IRs, IRs with both positively and negatively reinforced mands, assessing and teaching IRs, and ensuring that mand training includes observing IRs. We discuss recommendations for future research and implications for practice.
Further Evaluation on Teaching Sign Language to Infants and Toddlers
CARLEY SMITH (University of Florida), Ciobha A. McKeown (California State University, Sacramento), Janae' A. Pendergrass (University of Florida), Megan Wallis (University of Florida)
Abstract: Teaching young children sign language before the development of vocal communication has been demonstrated to promote early communication skills, improve socialization, and decrease crying and whining. The extant literature has demonstrated that differential reinforcement and prompt delays are efficacious in teaching these skills. However, research conducted by Thompson and colleagues (2007) suggests that numerous sessions (i.e., 70 sessions) and extended prompt delays (i.e., two-minute prompt delays) may be necessary to establish discriminative control of a single sign. The purpose of this study was two-fold: (a) determine if the efficiency of the procedures can be improved by waiting for an indication response before prompting the sign, and (b) evaluate how teaching multiple signs affects acquisition of the skills. Similar to previous literature, we used delayed prompting and differential reinforcement to teach at least two signs to each child. We will discuss how our procedural modifications affected the efficacy of teaching sign language to young children.

Effects of the Quick Transfer Procedure on Manding With Children With Autism

CALEB DAVIS (Simmons University), Judah B. Axe (Simmons University)

Intensive mand training is needed to teach children with austim and limited verbal skills to use communiticave behaviors to access desired items and actvites. Trainers frequently use prompting and prompt fading procedures, such as most-to-least promptng and time delay. The quick transfer procedure involves prompting a response and then immediately providing an opportunity to emit an independent response. Despite research on using the quick transfer procedure to teach tact and listener responses, we found no prior studies evaluating the quick transfer procedure to teach mands. We used a nonconcurrent multiple baseline design across 3 children with autism, and we taught 2-3 mands with each participant. The main dependent variable was the cumulative number of independent mands on first-trial probes. During quick transfer training, we analyzed within-session paterns of responding to inform individualized procedural adjustments. With these adjustments, the results indicated that the quick transfer procedure increased 2-3 independent mands with all 3 participants. We discuss the need for effective and efficient mand training procedures, the need to analyze motivating operations and stimulus control, and future research recommendations. Interobserver agreement data were collected for 35%, 33%, and 36% of sessions for Graham, Ned, and Michael, respectively. All had 100% IOA during probes.




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