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 #501
CE Offered: BACB
Tacting Interesting Stimuli and Private Events: Analyses and Procedures
Monday, May 27, 2024
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 111 AB
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Christina Barosky (Bierman Autism Centers)
Discussant: Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Christina Barosky, Ph.D.
Abstract: Parents and teachers of children with autism have two desires related to tacting. First, they want the children to tact in the natural environment because it is a social skill and leads to engagement with others. Second, they want the children to tact private events, such as illness and pain, so that adults can provide relief from those ailments. The first paper addresses the first desire by analyzing antecedent variables that affect tacting, such as out-of-the-ordinary pictures and pictures of preferred items. The second paper addresses the second desire by teaching children with autism to tact different sensations to different body parts, such as “That feels soft on my hand” and “That feels prickly on my knee,” while not being able to see the materials and body parts. These two studies meaningfully extend the research on teaching tacts to children with autism. The discussant will provide commentary on the two studies.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): joint attention, private events, tact, tactile
Target Audience: behavior analysts, speech pathologists, graduate students, researchers
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Describe the connection between "natural tacts" and joint attention. 2. Describe how different types of pictures and antecedent variables affect tacting. 3. Describe how to teach children with autism to tact sensations on body parts (i.e., private events).

Antecedent Variables Influencing Tacting With Children With Autism

CHRISTINA BAROSKY (Bierman Autism Centers), Judah B. Axe (Simmons University)

According to Skinner (1957), tacts emitted in the natural environment are likely to occur in the presence of novel or out-of-the-ordinary stimuli. In addition, if praise is the reinforcer for tacts, MOs related to praise will affect the emission of tacts. Given no prior research in this area, we evaluated the effects of these types of variables with 4 children with autism using pictures displayed in slideshows on a laptop. In the context of multielement designs, we examined the effects of the following five variables on the emission of verbal responses: (1) novel vs. mundane pictures, (2) preferred vs. mundane pictures, (3) presession vs. no presession attention, (4) an adult looking vs. not looking at the pictures, and (5) a vocal cue (e.g., “What is it?”) vs. no vocal cue. Three and 4 out of 4 participants emitted more verbal responses in the presence of novel and preferred stimuli, respectively. Two out of 4 participants emitted more verbal responses when the experimenter was looking at the stimuli. Four out of 4 participants emitted more verbal responses following presession attention and with a vocal cue. Interpretations, implications, and recommendations for future research are discussed. Mean IOA was 92% (range, 64%-100%).


Teaching MultiModal Communicators With Autism to Tact Private Events

MAUREEN BOOTH (May Institute), Brittany Ann Juban (May Institute), Willow M Hozella (May Institute)

Delays in functional communication and vocal verbal behavior coexist in 25-30% of autistic individuals (Rose et al., 2016, Wodka et al., 2013). Parents often report concerns in their child’s inability to tact private events. In Skinner’s 1957 Analysis of Verbal Behavior, he describes two ways that tacting private events may be taught. The first, the tact of observable and presumable sensations. The second, the tact of a stimulation of a body part while blocking access to visual stimuli. In 2021, Rajagopal et al., sought to teach three autistic individuals how to tact sensations by blocking visual stimuli. Results indicated all individuals learned to tact targeted tactile sensations using vocal verbal communication. Furthermore, the individuals demonstrated generalization of these skills to novel objects, and to a lesser extent, novel body parts and sensations. The purpose of the current study was to replicate and partially extend procedures of Rajagopal et al., (2021) to multimodal communicators. Initial results indicate the participants have increased correct responding across trained body parts. Clinical implications for efficacious tacting sensation teaching procedures and generalization for multimodal communicators will be discussed as well as areas for future research. Interobserver agreement was assessed for 33% of sessions and was 100%.




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