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

Previous Page


Symposium #399
CE Offered: BACB
Developmentally and Socially Significant Changes for Children With Autism: Intervention Stories From Three Countries
Monday, May 27, 2024
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 112 AB
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Nirvana Pistoljevic (EDUS-Education for All; CABAS)
Discussant: Fabiola Casarini (Errepiu R+ Association)
CE Instructor: Nirvana Pistoljevic, Ph.D.

The ever-increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) results in a growing demand for competent behavior analysts. Although the field of behavior analysis is growing at a rapid pace, most of the behavior analysts are in the US while the rest of the world still face a huge demand for behavior analytic professionals. The symposium will present evidence-based interventions to teach children with autism and developmental disabilities to enhance their social and verbal behavior development from three different countries, including Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the US. The symposium covers the applications of modified behavioral intervention packages for countries lacking resources for children with ASD and Developmental Disorders and their families. The presenters will present recent research findings on a modified naturalistic preference assessment with autistic children from Italy; decreasing severe avoidance behavior during daily activities and basic health routines with autistic children from Italy; a low-intensity intervention for parents and children with ASD in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and teaching mands through tact instruction for a preschooler with ASD in the US.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the process of individualizing socially significant behavior targets (2) design simple studies and measure the effects of programs on the skills of children and parents (3) describe the functional interdependence and functional dependence between verbal operants (4) take verbally-mediated decisions to overcome development challenges
Effects of a Modified Naturalistic Preference Assessment on Problem Behavior in Different Settings
FABIOLA CASARINI (Errepiu R+ Association), CHIARA LEUCI (AllenaMenti Educational Centre and Errepiù Association), Irene Liuzzo Scorpo (Errepiu), Gianluca Amato (VitaLab Educational Centre)
Abstract: Preference assessments are essential procedures to ensure the success of individualized educational programs. Still, the implementation for individuals with autism and severe problem behavior can have several limitations or take too long. We tested the effects of a modified naturalistic preference assessment with 7 autistic children aged 3 to 5. Participants attended both inclusive regular pre-schools and a learning center with the CABAS®-based model of instruction. All children functioned at an emergent listener-emergent speaker level of verbal behavior and emitted intense problem behavior in both settings before the beginning of the study. The dependent variables were the daily rate of problem behavior for each participant, in both regular kindergarten and learning center settings before and after the preference assessment. The design for this study was single-subject, with pre- and post-probes. Data showed that a modified naturalistic preference assessment protocol can be helpful in decreasing avoidance, self-injurious, and aggressive problem behavior for all participants. The total administration time ranged from 19 to 28 min across participants. Follow-up data and anecdotal observations also suggested that repetition of this “shortened” preference assessment effectively improves program individualization and promotes social inclusion for preschoolers with special needs.

Significant Routines: The Impact of Learning to Eat Healthy Snacks, Go to Bed, Cut Hair, and Do a Blood Test for Children With Autism and Their Caregivers

ELISA GALANTI (Scuola delle Stelle Learning Center), Fabiola Casarini (Errepiu R+ Association), Claudia Puchetti (VitaLab Educational Center), Cristina Ferro (Libero professionista), Adele Vero (Scuola delle Stelle Learning and Research Centre)

Quite often, parents of individuals with developmental disabilities find it challenging to cope with severe avoidance behavior during daily activities and basic health routines. Five male participants with autism and multiple disabilities, aged 3 to 7 years old, were selected for this study because of their increasing difficulties during meals, bedtime, medical examinations, and haircut experiences. Their level of verbal behavior development ranged from emergent listener-emergent speaker (Participants 3 and 4) to listener-speaker (Participants 1 and 2) and emergent reader/writer (Participant 1). We tested the effects of a multiple intervention package, based on systematic exposure to stimuli, with a forward chaining tactic and a change-criterion design for each participant. The independent variable was an individualized intervention with eating healthy snacks, bedtime, blood sample, and haircut routines. The dependent variable was the percentage of tasks independently performed by each child, before and after the intervention, during these experiences in natural environments (lunchtime at home and school, bedtime at home, blood collection appointment at the local hospital, and haircut at the local barbershop). Results showed that the intervention was successful for all participants. Anecdotal information also suggested that prioritizing such highly socially significant target behavior can be an effective choice for behavior analysts who supervise educational programs with low weekly frequency. Emerging data were also discussed based on the construct of “phobia”.


Teaching Mands Through Tact Instruction for aPreschooler With Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD)

LIN DU (Teachers College, Columbia University), Lilian Morales (Teachers College, Columbia University)

Skinner postulated the functional independence of verbal operants given that different verbal operants are under the control of correspondent variables (Skinner, 1957). However, more and more existing research has provided supporting evidence for functional interdependence. We tested the effects of teaching mands through tact instruction for a preschooler with ASD. Previous research tested the emergence of untrained mands and tacts in children with autism and individuals with language delays and traumatic brain injury. However, to our knowledge, few studies have used such functional interdependence as an independent variable to improve children’s verbal behavior development. The participant was a 3-year-old girl who struggled to learn mands through direct mand instruction. We used a multiple baseline design across sets. Our results show that after the participant demonstrated the transfer of control to mands and acquired the tact operants. The current study provided a novel way to teach children who struggled to learn basic verbal operants through direct instruction.


Parent Education Program as First-Line Intervention for Low- and Mid-Income Countries (LMIC): Development of Low-Intensity Intervention for Parents and Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Bosnia and Herzegovina


Due to the lack of resources for children with ASD and Developmental Disorders in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other Low- and Mid-Income Countries (LMIC), we developed and tested a possible first-line intervention to introduce parents to developmental and behavioral principles and pivotal developmental behavioral cusps and capabilities. We tested the effects of the program on the children’s number of skills, developmental milestones acquired, and the severity of ASD symptoms, and for parents, we tested the stress levels, parental confidence, and basic quality of life. Parents were enrolled in the program for ten 2-hour sessions with their children. After listening to the lectures about the basic ABA principles, developmental milestones, verbal behavior development, mands, tacts, the community of reinforcers, and similar pivotal developmental skills, parents got to practice those skills with their child and a teacher mentor. After each session, parents demonstrated the learned skills with their child using Learn Units, while mentors provided feedback. In addition, they had a one-on-one session with the teacher-mentor where they were able to discuss all questions regarding the programs they were doing at home and future steps. Parents reported that learning the basic principles of ABA and understanding the verbal behavior development theory helped them relieve their stress and feel more confident in "helping" their child. A pre-, and post-test group design was used in this study with a total of 30 families with children with ASD and other DD. We also marked an increase in the children’s skills in repertoire according to the developmental screening tools used.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh