The 2016 Association for Behavior Analysis International convention was held Memorial Day weekend in Chicago and featured scientific papers from leading researchers in the field of ABA. Autism Partnership Foundation’s research team was there in force presenting a total of six papers, one workshop and a panel discussion. The topics included important work on developing effective teaching procedures for Children with ASD.
Evaluation of Multiple Alternative Prompts During Tact Training
ADITT ALCALAY (Autism Partnership), Joseph H. Cihon (Autism Partnership Foundation), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), Ronald Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), John James McEachin (Autism Partnership), Mitchell T. Taubman (Autism Partnership)
Summary: Prompting is an essential component of discrete trial teaching and can be used to help promote language development. Today, there are multiple prompt types teachers can use to promote language and can include full vocal prompts, partial vocal prompts, and written prompts. This study compared two methods of fading prompts while teaching expressive labels to three children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The first method involved use of an echoic prompt and prompt fading procedure. The second method involved providing multiple alternative answers and fading by increasing the difficulty of the discrimination. The results of an adapted alternating-treatments design indicated that both procedures were effective relative to a no-intervention control condition. The use of multiple alternatives did not increase error rates or teaching time compared to using an echoic prompt. Furthermore, all of the children responded more accurately during maintenance probes for labels taught using the multiple-alternative prompt.
An Evaluation of Various Prompting Systems: A Randomized Control Trial
JOSEPH H. CIHON (Autism Partnership Foundation), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), Ronald Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), John James McEachin (Autism Partnership), Mitchell T. Taubman (Autism Partnership)
Summary: Prompting is an essential component of discrete trial teaching. Researchers have developed prompting systems which essentially act as rules for when a teacher should provide and/or fade a prompt. To date, there are multiple prompting systems which have been evaluated in empirical research and implemented within clinical practice. These prompting systems include: no-no prompting, simultaneous prompting, least to most prompting, most to least prompting, constant time delay, and flexible prompt fading. This study compared the use of three prompting systems (i.e., most-to-least prompting, constant time delay, and flexible prompt fading) to teach expressive labels of cartoon characters for children diagnosed with ASD. The researchers utilized a randomized control group design to evaluate the effectiveness and the efficiency of the three prompting procedures. We report here on the results for the first 18 participants. Preliminary findings suggest that all three methods are effective and flexible prompt fading tended to be more efficient, although the differences were small and varied across participants.
The Effectiveness of Positional Prompts for Teaching Receptive Labels to Individuals Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder
KEVIN MILLER (Autism Partnership Foundation ), Joseph H. Cihon (Autism Partnership Foundation), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), Ronald Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), John James McEachin (Autism Partnership), Mitchell T. Taubman (Autism Partnership)
Summary: There are multiple prompting methods which a teacher can use to teach children diagnosed with autism to correctly label pictures. These can include, but are not limited to, full physical, partial physical, gestural, and reduction of the field prompts. Teachers can also utilize positional prompts to promote correct responding by placing the correct target closer to the learner. Positional prompts have been described by professionals in curriculum books and explored within various clinical studies. Despite the widespread use of positional prompts several professionals have recommended against their use citing the possibility of establishing faulty stimulus control. The current study evaluated the effectiveness of positional prompts to teach six children diagnosed with autism receptive labels (i.e., nine cartoon or comic book characters). The results of a multiple baseline across behaviors indicated that positional prompts were effective for the majority of participants. Anecdotal evidence suggested that the two participants who did not meet criteria with positional prompts were impacted by factors other than the prompting method (e.g. motivational variables). These results are inconsistent with the presumption than use of positional prompts hinders development of appropriate stimulus control.
Using Teaching Interactions to Teach Social Skills to Children With Autism and Intellectual Disabilities
Aubrey Ng (St. Cloud State University), CHRISTINE MILNE (Autism Partnership Foundation), Kimberly A. Schulze (St. Cloud State University), Eric Rudrud (St. Cloud State University), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation)
Summary: Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have qualitative impairments in social behavior which can range from rejecting others to failure to develop meaningful friendships. Thus, it is important for researchers to evaluate various methodologies that engender social behavior. One methodology which has been implemented with many children diagnosed with autism, and has a growing body of empirical support, is the teaching interaction procedure (TIP). The TIP consists of labeling and describing the behavior, providing a meaningful rationale, breaking the skill into smaller components, teacher demonstration of the behavior, the learner role-playing the behavior, and the provision of the feedback. This study extended previous findings by investigating the use of TIP with lower functioning children. A modified TIP was used to teach social skills to three children diagnosed with ASD and an intellectual disability. A multiple baseline design across social skills, replicated across participants, showed the TIP resulted in acquisition, maintenance, and generalization of the targeted social skills for all participants.
Changing Preference From Tangible to Social Activities Through an Observation Procedure
JEREMY ANDREW LEAF (Autism Partnership), Misty Oppenheim-Leaf (Behavior Therapy and Learning Center), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), Ronald Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), John James McEachin (Autism Partnership), Mitchell T. Taubman (Autism Partnership)
Summary: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have qualitative impairments in social interactions and often prefer food or tangible reinforcers to social reinforcers. Therefore, therapists working with children diagnosed with ASD often utilize food or tangible items as reinforcers to increase appropriate behaviors or decrease aberrant behaviors. The goal of the present study was to shift children’s preference from a highly preferred tangible item to an initially non-preferred social reinforcer using an observational conditioning procedure. Participants observed a known peer engage in a simple task and select the social reinforcer that was not preferred by the participant. The observation procedure resulted in a shift of preference toward the social reinforcer with all participants. Maintenance data demonstrated that although the preference change did not endure when conditioning was discontinued for one of the participants, it was quickly re-established with additional observational trials. Results provided further support for the use of observational procedures to alter preferences.
The Never Ending Story: A Methodological Review, Clinical Usage, and Evaluation of Social Stories
ERIN MITCHELL (Autism Partnership Foundation), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), Misty Oppenheim-Leaf (Behavior Therapy and Learning Center), Mitchell T. Taubman (Autism Partnership), Ronald Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), John James McEachin (Autism Partnership)
Summary: This presentation takes a closer look at the methodological soundness of previous studies evaluating social stories, opinions of several behavior analysts on social stories, and, finally, comparing social stories to the cool versus not cool procedure. First, 41 studies were reviewed which evaluated social stories for individuals diagnosed with autism. Results of this analysis showed the majority of studies either showed only partial demonstration or no clear demonstration that the social story procedure was responsible for observed behavior change. Second, we sent surveys to over 500 BCBA’s or BCaBA’s on their use of social stories and their perception of the research on social stories. Results of this survey revealed widespread use and a tendency to overestimate the soundness of the research on social stories. Finally, we conducted a single subject case study to illustrate the research methodology that is necessary for obtaining scientifically valid results. For this case study we compared social stories to the cool versus not cool procedure for one child diagnosed with ASD. Using an adapted alternating treatment design we taught the participant three social skills randomly assigned to each of the two procedures. The cool versus not cool procedure resulted in rapid skill acquisition while the social stories resulted in no skill acquisition. These findings were consistent with previous rigorous investigations that have shown that behavioral teaching strategies are much more effective than Social Stories alone.