Although an increasing number of single-case studies have focused on teaching language skills to children with autism using Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior in recent years, the majority have concentrated on establishing primary operants at the single-word level. Nevertheless, from two to three years of age, typically developing children naturally demonstrate generalized and multiply-controlled verbal behavior, including autoclitics. They are, for example, able to provide full-sentence answers to novel questions about ongoing and past events, to describe their own experiences, and to respond to a diversity of novel instructions. One of the greatest challenges currently facing applied behavior analysts remains, therefore, how to teach such complex verbal behavior to children with autism. This presentation will propose that contemporary analyses of naming (Horne & Lowe, 1996), joint control (Lowenkron, 1998, 2006), and multiple control (Michael, Palmer, & Sundberg, 2011) together offer a conceptually coherent practical basis for the development and curricular organization of procedures to meet this challenge. A program of instruction will be presented in which language objectives are organized along a continuum of increasingly complex stimulus control, and discussion thereby provided of how best to move from establishment of basic vocabulary in primary operants to mastery of complex verbal conditional discriminations across primary and secondary operants. In addition, specific procedures that manipulate interactions between speaker and listener behavior to maximize the effectiveness of language-based interventions will be described and demonstrated. Special emphasis will be placed throughout on the role of autoclitic frames and intraverbal control in teaching generalized question answering and descriptive skills at the tact and intraverbal level and on the role of joint control in the emergence of complex listener skills.
August 6 – 9, 2018
The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center
State College, Pennsylvania