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 #437
CE Offered: BACB
Echoics: Conceptual Analyses and Applied Implications
Monday, May 27, 2024
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 105 AB
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Theory
Chair: Olga Meleshkevich (Simmons University; ABA Consulting, Inc. )
Discussant: Barbara E. Esch (Esch Behavioral Consultants, LLC)
CE Instructor: Celso Goyos, Ph.D.
Abstract: An echoic is a verbal response with a vocal verbal antecedent and generalized conditioned reinforcement where the antecedent and response product have point-to-point correspondence and formal similarity. Many early intensive intervention programs teach children with autism and significant language delays to echo words (e.g., “Say bubble”) to strengthen their vocal verbal repertoire and allow the transfer of stimulus control to other verbal operants. The echoic is also thought to play a role in facilitating emergent verbal behavior. Given a relatively limited literature base, more research and analyses are needed with the echoic. The first paper in this symposium addresses the definition of the echoic and distinguishes it from the more colloquial term, “verbal imitation.” This theoretical portion is followed by practical reasons to develop echoic repertoires. The second paper discusses the role of echoics and self-echoics in mediating complex discriminations as part of the analyses of joint control and bidirectional naming. The theoretical portion is followed by video demonstrations of strengthening echoics and self-echoics to facilitate complex discriminations. The discussant will comment on the conceptual and applied implications of these papers.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): bidirectional naming, echoics, joint control, verbal imitation
Target Audience: behavior analysts, speech pathologists, graduate students, researchers
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Explain the difference between echoics and verbal imitation 2. Describe how the echoic facilitates learning in the analysis of joint control 3. Describe how the echoic facilitates learning intraverbal-tacts
Is the Echoic the Most Important Verbal Operant?
CELSO GOYOS (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos)
Abstract: According to Skinner’s (1957) definition, the echoic is a verbal response whose antecedent stimulus is verbal and auditory, and whose consequences are generalized. Also, there is point-to-point correspondence and formal similarity between the antecedent stimulus and the response. In the traditional and behavioral literature alike, the echoic has long been considered the same as verbal imitation. Until recently, the echoic has received very little attention in the literature. Probably because of its importance in developing spoken language in verbally delayed children and, particularly, in children with autism, the echoic is beginning to be considered an important behavioral cusp. This paper addresses why the echoic is not a case of verbal imitation and offers a more detailed component analysis that differentiates the echoic and oral imitation, distinctions that are missing from Skinner’s definition. Additionally, the paper addressed why echoics and oral imitation are important for more effectively teaching children with autism not only echoics, but all spoken language.
The Role of Echoics and Self–Echoics in Mediating Complex Listener and Tact–Intraverbal Repertoires
OLGA MELESHKEVICH (Simmons University; ABA Consulting, Inc.), Judah B. Axe (Simmons University)
Abstract: The echoic appears to play a role in mediating complex discriminations and emergent learning. For example, Lowenkron (1998, 2006) offered a joint control account of auditory-visual conditional discriminations that was translated into a teaching procedure focused on multiword echoic rehearsals (Causin et al., 2013; Vosters & Luczynski, 2020). Meleshkevich et al. (2021) and degli Espinosa et al. (2020) incorporated echoing keywords from questions to establish the acquisition and generalization of intraverbal-tacts (i.e., answering multiple questions about multiple visual stimuli). Ribeiro and Miguel (2020) showed that multiple tact training produced emergent categorization in children with autism. Meleshkevich et al. (in preparation) suggested that long chains of echoics may be critical for complex, generative discriminations. Including echoics in verbal tasks appears to be an important component of efficient verbal behavior programs. This presentation will describe and show video demonstrations of including echoics and self–echoics as a mediating strategy to teach complex listener and tact–intraverbal repertoires.



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