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Applied Behavior Analysis and Teaching Children with Autism

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  1. Applied Behavior Analysis and Teaching Children with Autism

  2. Characteristics of Applied Behavior Analysis • Massed vs. mixed trials • Errorless prompting • Differential reinforcement • Behavioral momentum

  3. Characteristics of Applied Behavior Analysis • Emphasis on “causes” of behavior in applied settings (functions) • Emphasis on observable, measurablebehavior • Science requires repeated measurement of behavior • Change environment to change behavior

  4. Characteristics of Applied Behavior Analysis cont. • Methods and rationales can be defined precisely • Socially significant effects [size and importance of behavior] sought • High value placed on accountability for everyone involved in the behavior change effort • Treatment strategies can be refined and adjusted based on objective data of progress • Address separate and specific behavioral deficits & excesses (language, social skills, behavior problems)

  5. Terminology • SD — Discriminative Stimulus: A stimulus (i.e., instruction), in the presence of which, a particular response is likely to be reinforced • SR+ — Reinforcement: The process by which some consequent stimulus—or removal of—increases the probability of a behavior’s occurrence

  6. “ABC’s” of Behavior • Antecedents - What happens before • Behavior/Response • Consequence - What happens after/during “ABC” Model SD SR+ Antecedent Instruction Behavior Response Consequence Reinforcer

  7. Teaching Methodology Common behavioral approaches • Discrete Trial Training (e.g., Lovaas, 1981) • Highly structured, very specific • Natural Language Paradigm (e.g., Koegel, O’Dell, & Koegel, 1987); Natural Environment Training (Sundberg & Partington, 1998) • Incidental, specific to child’s reinforcers • Task Analysis (Axelrod, 1983)

  8. Discrete Trial Training • DTT uses Applied Behavior Analytic (ABA) technology. They are not the same thing. • Discrete trial training (DTT) is only one method for teaching skills to children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

  9. Discrete Trial Training • A discrete trial method is not to be considered the only way to teach new behavior; in fact many behaviors do not lend themselves to discrete trial training, and must be taught using alternate methods (e.g., task analysis training). • Teaching should occur outside the DTT format as well.

  10. Key Features • Several key features make a discrete trial teaching method effective: • A trial comprises “a single teaching unit” (Lovaas, 1981) • Concise and clearly defined - Provides clear expectations for the teacher and the student. Lovaas, O.I. (1981). Teaching developmentally disabled children: The ME book. Austin: Pro-Ed, Inc.

  11. Key Features • The method allows for repeated presentations of trials, which appears to be critical for many children with developmental disabilities. • Since a trial is clearly and objectively defined, a student’s performance is easily measured. Lovaas, O.I. (1981). Teaching developmentally disabled children: The ME book. Austin: Pro-Ed, Inc.

  12. Discrete Trial Training • Discrete trial training is typically provided in 1:1 direct instruction, but is also useful in providing incidental instruction and teaching in the context of various activities.

  13. Discrete Trial Training • Major parts to a discrete trial: • The Trainer’s Presentation/Instruction • Clear, concise and phrased as a statement • Given only once • Not too many words • Consistency in wording initially, vary later

  14. Discrete Trial Training • Major parts to a discrete trial: • The Child’s Response • Correct • Incorrect • None • Allow 3-5 seconds • When incorrect or none, intervene (prompting)

  15. Discrete Trial Training • Major parts to a discrete trial: • The Consequence • Correct - Immediately present enthusiastic praise with other identified reinforcers. • Incorrect/None - Prompt/guidance (may need to re-start the teaching sequence; reinforce?) Maurice, Green & Luce (Eds.). Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals.

  16. Behavior Modification vs. ABA • Does ABA create robotic behavior? • Does ABA use “bribery” in the form of goodies to get kids to perform? • Does ABA tout dramatic treatment effects, but only in isolated environments? • Is ABA concerned with behavior in the natural environment? • Does ABA rely on punishment as a primary treatment method?

  17. Prompting SD SR+ Instruction Prompt Response Reinforcer • The prompt gets the desired response so that it may be reinforced. • The objective is always to minimize, fade, and eliminate prompts.

  18. Prompting Techniques • Types of Prompts • Prompt Fading • Gradually removing a prompt to facilitate successful and independent performance

  19. Prompting • Use correction trials for prompted responses • Errorless prompting • Antecedent intervention (not how to respond to mistakes, how to prevent mistakes) • New skills— “most-to-least” (errorless prompting) • Older skills— “least-to-most” • Prompt fading: Transferring stimulus control

  20. Prompt Fading • Fade prompts on two levels: • Latency—time between SD and prompt • Topography—intrusiveness of the prompt (type of prompt) • Physical (partial to full) • Gestures (demonstrations to small motions) • Sounds (demonstrations to one phoneme) • Positional (changing the placement of items) • Other (pictures, lines, mats)

  21. Prompt Fading Desired Response:Prompt: • Receptive Instruction Full physical i.e., “Touch your head.” Partial physical Touch Model all of response Model part of response Gesture Most-to-Least Least-to-Most

  22. Prompt Fading Desired Response:Prompt: • Labeling Full model i.e., “What is this?” Two phonemes One phoneme Mouth movement Most-to-Least Least-to-Most

  23. Prompt Fading Desired Response:Prompt: • Eye Contact Withhold activity Hold R+ near Say student’s name Say “Look at me.” Physical prompt Most-to-Least Least-to-Most

  24. Reinforcement • R+ should be varied in type, intensity, and duration • Differential R+: “Better” R+ for “better” responses • “Boredom” is often satiation w/ R+ • Track and record different effective reinforcers • Always pair social praise w/ other reinforcers

  25. Examples of Reinforcers Adapted from Fovel, J.T. (2002). The ABA Companion

  26. Examples of Reinforcers Adapted from Fovel, J.T. (2002). The ABA Companion

  27. A Language Training Environment (Sunberg & Partington. 1995. Teaching Language to Autistic and Developmentally Disabled Children.) • Language training is viewed as the key feature by teachers, parents support personnel, etc. • Language training is incorporated into all other activities (e.g.,self-care, play, non-verbal behavior). • There must be a large number of daily trials under a variety of stimulus and motivational conditions. • All relevant types of language training trials should be conducted (including requesting, labeling, conversation, etc.), not just receptive language. • Data should be collected on performance.

  28. Analysis of Verbal Behavior • Actively addresses one of the key skill deficit areas for students with autism: communication/language • Based upon B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (1957) • Verbal behavior is defined by its FUNCTION rather than form. • Same word can have different meanings based on conditions under which it is acquired

  29. Functional Language Development • Words can have different functions at different times. • Requesting • Labeling • Echoing • Conversations • Early language instruction should always start with requesting.

  30. Functions of Language Want pencil “pencil” receive pencil MAND See pencil “pencil” praise TACT “Write with” “pencil” praise INTRAVERBAL Hear “pencil” “pencil” praise ECHOIC

  31. Verbal Operants • Mand: Asking for reinforcers (request) • Tact: Naming or identifying objects, actions, etc. (label) • Echoic: Repeating what is heard • Intraverbal: Answering questions in response to verbal stimuli (conversation)

  32. Verbal Operants • Textual: Reading written words • Imitation: Copying someone’s motor movements • Receptive: Following instructions Stop!

  33. Natural Environment Training • Stimulus items are chosen by the student (increased attention, motivation) • “Natural” (rather than contrived) reinforcers • Ideal conditions to teach requesting • Interaction and instruction take place within the context of using those items • Reduces the need for elaborate generalization • Reduces the potential for inappropriate behavior

  34. Item: Imtatn Intvbl Mand RFFC Recept Tact Natural Environment Teaching Student: ________________ Activity: ________________

  35. Reinforcement • One of the most important components of discrete trial. • Differential Reinforcement • Your reinforcement efforts should be based on the student’s level of independent responding and attention. That is, if the student performs the task independently, the level of reinforcement should be higher than if prompts are required. • there is a positive consequence if they can do the task without assistance. • Helps to avoid prompt dependency.

  36. Reinforcement • Needs to be varied in type, intensity, and duration. • Much of what people describe as boredom can actually be looked at as satiation with the environment and the reinforcers. • Develop a section in the student’s notebook to log the reinforcers you have tried and found to be effective. • Remember, just because a student doesn’t find an item or activity rewarding the first time you introduce it, this doesn’t mean that he/she never will. Keep experimenting and be creative.

  37. Reinforcement • Limit the use of primary reinforcers to independently correct trials. • Social reinforcers should always be paired with primary rewards. • Thereby the student learns to enjoy a variety of secondary reinforcers.

  38. Reinforcement vs. Bribery • Do not use rewards as bribery. • Do not tell the student in advance about the reinforcer he will receive (dangling a carrot). • Do not remind the child of the reinforcer he would be getting if disruptive behaviors were not occurring. • Do not offer additional reinforcers when behavior escalates in attempts to calm him down.

  39. Prompting • Prompts should occur before the behavior, not after the behavior as a consequence for incorrect responding • Fade prompts as soon as possible • while ensuring correct and errorless responding • Errorless Prompting • With new skills, use an adequate prompt immediately. With maintenance skills, allow a few-second delay.

  40. Prompt Fading • First fade physical dimension of prompt. If you do have to use a physical/full verbal prompt, immediately represent and try for an independent response or a less intrusive prompt.

  41. Introducing New Targets 1. Transfer Procedure Instructor: “Swim little “ STUDENT: “fish” Instructor: “What’s this?” STUDENT: “fish” 2. Errorless Prompting (prompt with a 0 second delay) Instructor: “What’s this? Fish” STUDENT: “fish”

  42. Pre-teaching/Pre-trial Prompts Some children will respond well to pre-teaching or “pre-trial” prompts Prompt is provided before the SD Instructor: “This is a fish? What is it?” STUDENT: “Fish”

  43. Non-Responding If the child does not respond within 2-3 seconds… • give him the correct answer • wait for him to imitate you • ask the question again to get an unprompted response if possible.   Instructor: “What do we sleep in?” STUDENT: <No response for 2-3 seconds after SD> Instructor: “Bed.” STUDENT: “Bed.” Instructor: “What do we sleep in?” STUDENT: “Bed.”

  44. Incorrect Responding If the child gives an incorrect answer… • repeat the question and immediately say the answer (prompt with a 0 second delay) • wait for the child to imitate you • ask the question again to get an unprompted response Instructor: “What’s this?” STUDENT: “woof, woof” Instructor: “What’s this? Dog.” STUDENT: “Dog.” Instructor: “What’s this?” STUDENT: “Dog.”

  45. Prompt Fading • It is vital to fade prompts so that the student does not become dependent on prompting and so the response comes under control of the stimulus and the target verbal SD. • This is accomplished by asking the question again in attempts to get an unprompted response. Instructor: “What’s this? Cat.” STUDENT: “Cat.” Instructor: “What’s this?” STUDENT: “Cat.”

  46. Massed Trials vs. Mixed Trials • It is not always possible to get an unprompted response right away • Be careful and avoid frustrating the child if this is the case. • Children vary in their ability to tolerate multiple trials (massed trials) but as a general rule, if you are still unable to get an unprompted response after the third attempt, accept the prompted response and move on.

  47. Behavioral Momentum and Mixed Trials • Separate prompted from unprompted responses with “easy” tasks (those you know the child will respond to correctly) • Then go back to the missed item. • Increase the number of “easy tasks” gradually while still going back for an unprompted response.  

  48. Example Instructor: “Swim little “ STUDENT: “fish” Instructor: “What’s this?” STUDENT: “fish” Instructor: “Touch the fish!” STUDENT: <touches fish> Instructor: “What’s this?” (holding up fish) STUDENT: “fish” Instructor: “Great job!”

  49. Errorless Learning and Behavioral Momentum • We want to prompt new skills and thereby avoid incorrect responses • we do not want the child practicing the wrong response. • Immediately repeat the drill when the student responds incorrectly in order to keep the child from inadvertently learning to chain incorrect and correct responses. • Mixing difficult targets with easy (mastered) responses increases the amount of reinforcement. • Make sure you are using differential reinforcement when using behavioral momentum (make sure to use a stronger reinforcer for new targets than for mastered skills.

  50. New Targets/Acquisition Skills 1.  Start teaching session with several maintenance items first (to build success and behavioral momentum). 2.  Fully prompt the acquisition item. 3.  Immediately provide a second learning opportunity (correction trial) for independent responding. 4.  Provide several maintenance items. 5.  Ask for the acquisition response again. (we are trying to reduce the level of prompts). 6.  If response is independent (no prompt required), reinforce immediately! If student does not respond independently, give a full prompt.