Children with verbal deficits can often be taught elementary units of verbal behavior that extend their ability to get along in social environments, but to engage in conversations is a much more complex and multidimensional task. Among other things, it requires sensitivity to subtle social cues, the ability to form many conditional discriminations, mastery of some extended verbal operants such as sentence “frames," all of which may be weak in children with disabilities. Fortunately, conversational skills lie on a continuum, and even modest improvements might greatly increase one’s opportunities for reinforcement. Some specific skills include making eye contact, providing cues that one has heard and understood a speaker, or that one has not, covertly (or overtly) echoing the speaker, attending to cues that the listener has heard and understood, asking questions, pausing appropriately, attending to cues of interest or boredom, varying one's inflection, and finding topics of mutual interest. This presentation attempts to interpret conversation from a behavior analytic perspective. It is not a data-based analysis, but a conceptual analysis. Group discussion is invited.
August 6 – 9, 2018
The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center
State College, Pennsylvania