Children with autism often have limited functional communication repertoires. One way to teach functional communication is through the use of an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device. Individuals who use an AAC device can be taught utterances (i.e., single words or phrases) through prompting and providing a consequence specific to the utterance in a mand, or a generalized conditioned reinforcer in a tact (Skinner, 1957). In the present study, five children diagnosed with autism were taught to emit utterances consisting of 26 “core” words that comprised 96% of words uttered by toddlers (as noted in a study by Banajee, Dicarlo, & Stricklin, 2003). The children emitted the utterances by touching symbol sequences on the screen of the AAC device. Various utterances that included the 26 core words were taught using discrete-trial teaching methods, and the item specified in the utterance was presented following it (i.e., mand). A Language Activity Monitor (LAM), a software program that continuously recorded utterances, recorded target utterances emitted before, during, and after training. Two participants completed the training package, and three others experienced some training. Discrete-trial training was effective for all participants, and increased frequencies of some targeted words were evident outside of teaching sessions with the two participants who completed the study. The study showed that teaching a “core vocabulary” to children with autism using an augmentative communication device can lead to some generalization without further instruction. The study may lead to further research on how vocabulary is taught, as well as how it is taught to children with language delays. A major contribution of this study is the tracking of the verbal behavior generalization automatically and continuously across all phases.
|Commitee:||Bennett, Ashley, Eshleman, John|
|School:||The Chicago School of Professional Psychology|
|Department:||Applied Behavioral Analysis|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-B 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Behavioral psychology, Speech therapy, Experimental psychology|
|Keywords:||Applied behavior analysis, Augmentative communication, Autism spectrum disorder, Core vocabulary, Speech-language pathology, Verbal behavior|
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