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Why Children With Autism Often Fail to Acquire a Functional Intraverbal Repertoire and What Why Children With Autism Often Fail to Acquire a Functional Intraverbal Repertoire and What to do About it Mark L. Sundberg, Ph. D. , BCBA-D (www. marksundberg. com)

Intraverbal Behavior • • • The most significant aspects of human behavior involve intraverbal Intraverbal Behavior • • • The most significant aspects of human behavior involve intraverbal behavior language acquisition education social behavior and relationships knowledge, thinking, and intellectual behavior literature, poetry, stories, novels understanding employment beliefs, views, & opinions religion international relations facts of history. .

Intraverbal Behavior • • • A young child’s early intraverbal behavior may be relatively Intraverbal Behavior • • • A young child’s early intraverbal behavior may be relatively simple such filling in the words of songs or fun activities (e. g. , “Ready, set. . . ” “Peek-a-…”) These response may be multiply controlled (e. g. , MOs) But intraverbal behavior soon becomes quite complex and a significant part of a developing child’s daily verbal behavior

What is Intraverbal Behavior? • • Intraverbal behavior is a type of verbal behavior What is Intraverbal Behavior? • • Intraverbal behavior is a type of verbal behavior where the form of the response (what is said, signed, written, etc. ) is under the functional control of an antecedent verbal discriminative stimulus (SD) and some type of generalized conditioned reinforcement (Skinner, 1957) The verbal stimulus and the verbal response do not match each other (i. e. , no “point-to-point correspondence”) Verbal stimulus control Verbal responses “What’s your favorite movie? ” “Cars” “What’s your name? ” “Neil” “What kind of work do you do? ” “I’m a behavior analyst” “What causes autism? ” “There are probably a variety. . . ”

How is the Intraverbal Different from the Mand, Tact, & Echoic? • • • How is the Intraverbal Different from the Mand, Tact, & Echoic? • • • Antecedent Motivation (MO) Nonverbal SD Verbal SD (w/ a match) Verbal SD (w/o a match) Behavior Mand Tact Echoic Consequence Specific reinforcement Generalized reinforcement Intraverbal Generalized reinforcement These are all called “expressive language” in traditional treatments

Common Intraverbal Problems Experienced by Children with Autism • • • Absent or weak Common Intraverbal Problems Experienced by Children with Autism • • • Absent or weak intraverbal behavior, despite strong mands, tacts, and listener (receptive) skills Rote intraverbal responses Difficulty answering questions--especially complex questions Excessive rote scripting No conversational skills Echolalia with intraverbal questions Poor peer intraverbal interaction Irrelevant intraverbal behavior Self as a listener with overt intraverbal behavior

Why the Intraverbal Repertoire may be Absent, Weak, or Impaired • • There are Why the Intraverbal Repertoire may be Absent, Weak, or Impaired • • There are many potential causes of intraverbal problems. Here a few. . . The child has not received formal intraverbal training The child is given training, but it’s too early to focus on intraverbals The specific target responses are not in the child’s repertoire as tacts, listener discriminations (LDs), or listener responding by function, feature, and class (LRFFCs) (e. g. , “What vehicle has wings? ”) Single verbal stimuli and single verbal responses have been over conditioned The intraverbal curriculum is out of developmental sequence The child does not have sufficient training on verbal conditional discriminations

Special Problems Related to Teaching Intraverbal Behavior • • There are many complexities involved Special Problems Related to Teaching Intraverbal Behavior • • There are many complexities involved in the intraverbal. Here a few. . . Verbal stimulus control vs. nonverbal stimulus control Transitory and constantly changing SDs vs. the general static nature of tact, mand, matching-to-sample A separate curriculum is required Tact, mand, and listener (receptive) prerequisites Many words have no clear referent, but change the meaning of words in a sentence (if, but, can’t, or, usually, its, for, of) Verbal stimulus and response classes must be established Verbal conditional discrimination training is usually necessary

Conditional Discriminations • • Conditional discrimination: “When the nature or extent of operant control Conditional Discriminations • • Conditional discrimination: “When the nature or extent of operant control by a stimulus condition depends on some other stimulus condition” (Michael, 1993, p. 14) One discriminative stimulus (SD) or motivational operation (MO) alters the evocative effect of a second stimulus, and establishes the second stimulus as an SD or MO, and they collectively evoke a response

Verbal Conditional D) Discriminations (VC • • • What constitutes a verbal conditional discrimination Verbal Conditional D) Discriminations (VC • • • What constitutes a verbal conditional discrimination and an intraverbal response? Two components of a verbal stimulus where one verbal stimulus alters the evocative effect of the second verbal stimulus, and collectively they evoke a differential intraverbal response Skinner (1957, p. 76) calls this a “compound verbal stimulus, ” but does not use the term “verbal conditional discrimination” Antecedent Response Verbal SD 1 + Verbal SD 2 Intraverbal Response

Verbal Conditional D) Discriminations (VC • • Examples. . . Antecedent (Verbal SD 1 Verbal Conditional D) Discriminations (VC • • Examples. . . Antecedent (Verbal SD 1 + Verbal SD 2) Big animal Little animal Big vehicle Little vehicle Intraverbal Response Lion Mouse Boeing 747 A toy bike VCD=VSD 1 alters the evocative effect of VSD 2 or vice versa A correct response is dependent on VCD between words, if individual words are the source of control errors will occur

Teaching Intraverbal Behavior to Children with Autism • • • Many children with autism Teaching Intraverbal Behavior to Children with Autism • • • Many children with autism have a difficult time acquiring intraverbal behavior because beyond simple intraverbals (“A kitty says. . . ”), most intraverbal responses are part of a VCDs. For example. . . “What’s your cat’s name” “What’s my cat’s name? ” “What did the cat chase? ” “What did the dog chase? ”

Current Study • • Is there a general sequence of increasingly complex verbal stimuli Current Study • • Is there a general sequence of increasingly complex verbal stimuli and VCDs that can be used for assessment and intervention? When are typically developing children successful at these tasks? A revised version (v. 5 -2) of the 80 -item intraverbal subtest of the VBMAPP was designed with increasingly complex intraverbal tasks. This version was modified as function of previous field-test data This is the 3 rd large-scale administration of the VB-MAPP IV subtest

Current Study • • Approximately 8, 500 intraverbal responses were collected 40 typically developing Current Study • • Approximately 8, 500 intraverbal responses were collected 40 typically developing children and 71 children with autism served as participants (bringing the project total to 91 typically developing children and 262 children with autism) Ages ranged from 23 months old to 15 years old Parents and professionals administered the assessment based on a set of written instructions

Acknowledgments for the People who Conducted the Field Testing • • • Kristen Albert Acknowledgments for the People who Conducted the Field Testing • • • Kristen Albert Judah Axe Vincent Carbone Lori Chamberlain Anne Cummings Carla Epps William Galbraith Rebecca Godfrey Lisa Hale Ally Labrie Heather Law • • • Mike Miklos Paige Raetz Rikki Roden David Roth Rachael Sautter Carl Sundberg Cindy Sundberg Brenda Terzich Joel Vodovic Kaisa Weathers

Intraverbal Assessment: Level 7: Multiple SDs with Prepositions, Adverbs, & Negation Intraverbal Assessment: Level 7: Multiple SDs with Prepositions, Adverbs, & Negation

Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • 1½-year-olds (20 -30 Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • 1½-year-olds (20 -30 mands and tacts) IV Assessment scores: Less than 5 Generally no IV behavior 2 -year-olds (100 -200 mands and tacts) IV Assessment scores: 10 -30 range Some intraverbal behavior, but no VCDs Can do song fill-ins and fun IVs, some associations, animal sounds, common fill-ins; limited WH answers (e. g. , name, or one word answers); lots of echoic responses

Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • 2 ½ -year-olds Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • 2 ½ -year-olds (200 -400 mands and tacts) IV Assessment scores: 20 -40 range Some simple intraverbal behavior, getting some easy WH questions, minimal VCDs Frequent echoic responding, or “What? ” “I don’t know” “Things” When some intraverbal control was demonstrated, often simple IV relation, minimal verbal conditional discriminations, the last, or prominent word was usually the source of stimulus control “What do you smell with? ”. . . “Poopies” “What grows on your head? ”. . . “Shoulders” “What animal moves real slow? . . . “Drink water slow? ” “What helps a flower grow? ” … “Up”

Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • • 3 -year-olds Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • • 3 -year-olds (500 -1000 mands and tacts) IV Assessment scores: 40 -60 range Well established basic intraverbal repertoire, 100 s of IV relations But verbal conditional discrimination errors were prevalent “What grows on your head? . . . “Plants” Many “WH” questions cause problems “Why do people wear glasses? ”. . . “Because they do” “When do we set the table? ”. . . “So we don’t make a mess of food” “Why do you use a Band-Aid? ”. . . “A rainbow” “Where do you eat? . . . “Food” Rote responses were evident “What day is today? ”. . . “Rainy” (it was sunny)

Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • • 3 -year-olds Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • • 3 -year-olds (cont. ) Problems with prepositions, adjectives, adverbs in VCDs “What’s under a house? . . . “roof” “What something that is sharp? ”. . . “Giraffe” Trouble with negation, time, personal information (except first name) “What’s something you can’t wear? ”. . . “Shirt” “Tell me something that is not a food”. . . “We don’t throw food. ” “What day is today? ’. . . “Sunny” “What is your last name? . . . “Noah” “Jon” “Sofia” “Neil” Three causes of errors: VCDs, complexity of the different parts of speech, and meanings of individual words (e. g. , “clothing” evoked echoic responses for many 3 year olds)

Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • • 3½-year-olds (500 Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • • 3½-year-olds (500 -1200 mands and tacts) IV Assessment scores: 50 -70 range Verbal conditional discrimination errors were still common “What grows on your head? ”. . . “Hat” “Name some clothing”. . . “For the body” Negation still a major problem Still having problems with, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs in VCDs Still problems with time concepts Still emitted echoic responses when no intraverbal occurred

Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • 4 -year-olds (800 Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • 4 -year-olds (800 -1800 mands and tacts) IV Assessment scores: 50 -75 range Verbal conditional discrimination errors were still common “What do you smell with? ”. . . “A skunk” But VCDs are clearly getting stronger “What’s above a house? ”. . . “An airplane, and stuff that’s on the roof” Negation, time concepts, prepositions, and adjectives in a VCDs continued to be a problem for many children Specific words and concepts like “different, ” “between, ” “take” “how, ” & “why” caused problems

Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • • 5 -year-olds Results and Error Analysis for the Typically Developing Children • • • 5 -year-olds (1000 -2500 mands and tacts) IV Assessment scores: 55 -76 range They get it! They are much better at VCDs. “What’s in a balloon? ”. . . “Helium” “Air” However, they still have problems with negation, time concepts, and prepositions Many children missed “What day is today? ” “What day is before Tuesday” “What’s your last name. ” “How is a car different from a bike? ” “What number is between 6 and 8? ”

Results and Error Analysis for the Children with Autism • • • 71 children Results and Error Analysis for the Children with Autism • • • 71 children served as participants Ages ranged from 35 months old to 15 years old Consultants, classroom staff, and in-home providers administered the assessment

Error Analysis for the Children with Autism • • • The children with autism Error Analysis for the Children with Autism • • • The children with autism made the same types of errors as typical children who scored at their level Verbal conditional discriminations were hard for all children especially those involving “WH” questions and the different parts of speech Rote responding was more obvious, and more firmly established Echoic responses were more frequent Negative behavior was higher with increasing complexity of the verbal stimulus

Errors Made by Typically Developing Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Errors Made by Typically Developing Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level • • IV Assessment Score of 0 -19 Typically developing children and children with autism who scored at this level emitted similar errors Gave an echoic response to the question Gave no answer Gave a standard single answer like “yeah, ” or “yes” Pointed at something or pointed in some location (listener behavior) Negative behavior was higher for children with autism (avoidance and escape)

Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level • • • IV Assessment Score of 20 -29 Samples What can fly? What can you sing? What’s outside? Typical “All gone shirt” “Yes” “Outside” Autism “Water” No Response “Outside”

Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level • • • IV Assessment Score of 30 -39 Samples What are some colors? Why do you use a Band-Aid? Where do you take a bath? Typical Autism “ 1, 2, 3” “Coloring” “On my finger” “Happens” “Mommy and daddy” “With toys”

Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level • • • IV Assessment Score of 40 -49 Samples Typical What grows outside? “Sand” What shape are wheels? “Triangle” What do you wear on your head? “A ear” Autism “Playground” “Cars” “Boo boo”

Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level • • • IV Assessment Score of 50 -59 Samples What color are wheels? What do you eat with? Name some clothing. Typical “Circle” “Cheese” “Clothing” Autism “Red” “Pizza” “Clothing”

Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level • • • IV Assessment Score of 60 -69 Samples What’s in a balloon? What makes you sad? What grows on your head? Typical “It pops” “Cry” “Hats” Autism “String” “Cry” “A plant”

Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level Errors Made by Typical Children and Children with Autism Scoring at the Same Level • • • IV Assessment Score of 70 -80 Samples Typical What day comes before Tuesday? “Wednesday” What’s your last name? Gave full name What number is between 6 and 8? “ 9” Autism “Wednesday” Gave full name “ 9”

Implication for Intraverbal Intervention Programs • • • Use the acquisition of intraverbal behavior Implication for Intraverbal Intervention Programs • • • Use the acquisition of intraverbal behavior of typically developing children as a guide for an intraverbal curriculum Assess a target child’s existing intraverbal repertoire using a tool like the one presented here Look for balance across the scores of the VB-MAPP (Is the child ready for intraverbal training? ) Assess the corresponding mand, tact, and listener repertoires and be assured they are present prior to intraverbal training (e. g. , “big” and “little” as tacts and LDs) Carefully sequence the intraverbal tasks (e. g. , the VB-MAPP intraverbal task analysis)

Implication for Intraverbal Intervention Programs • • Typically developing 3 -year-olds emit 1000 s Implication for Intraverbal Intervention Programs • • Typically developing 3 -year-olds emit 1000 s of intraverbal responses a day, thus there needs to be many trials for language delayed children. Don’t move from the nonverbal context too quickly Don’t be in a rush to move up the curriculum There is a need for massive verbal stimulus and response generalization Use LRFFC as a stepping stone to IV Always analyze errors and the sources of control. Back down the curriculum sequence if necessary Mixed and rotated VB trials on one topic mimic general conversation and provide a bridge to the natural use of the skill

Implication for Intraverbal Intervention Programs • • Respect the complexity of verbal conditional discriminations Implication for Intraverbal Intervention Programs • • Respect the complexity of verbal conditional discriminations (VCDs) Establish a strong repertoire of simple intraverbal relations prior to moving to VCDs and WH questions (100 s of IVs from Group 1 and 2) Be aware that a (rote) correct answer to a question may occur when the VCDs element is removed (e. g. , all “What color” questions, or all “What shape” questions, or all “Where” questions). Mixed and rotated VB trials can solve that problem Be assured that the individual words evoke generalized intraverbal responses prior to combining them in a VCDs task (e. g. , “grows” “head” “garden” individually evoke a variety of intraverbal responses)

Conclusions • • The intraverbal behavior of typically developing children can serve as an Conclusions • • The intraverbal behavior of typically developing children can serve as an important guide for an intraverbal curriculum for children with autism or other developmental disabilities The primary behavioral relation relevant to intraverbal behavior almost always involves a verbal conditional discrimination Children with autism made the same intraverbal errors as typical children who scored at their level A behavioral analysis of these verbal errors can help us better understand the errors made by children with autism and avoid those errors by better sequencing the curriculum tasks, and by providing the necessary instruction, especially on VCDs

Conclusions • • There is very little behavioral research on VCDs and their relation Conclusions • • There is very little behavioral research on VCDs and their relation to intraverbal behavior (for a review see Axe, 2008) Existing conditional discrimination research can serve as a guide for VCD intraverbal research (e. g. , Saunders & Spradlin, 1989)

Funny Intraverbal Responses: “Kids say the darnedest things” • • Why do people wear Funny Intraverbal Responses: “Kids say the darnedest things” • • Why do people wear glasses? . . . What’s something you can’t wear? . . . What do you write on? . . . What can you kick? … Where do you put dirty clothes? . . . Who drives a car? . . . You sit on a. . . Twinkle, twinkle, little. . . Because they are old and tired I can’t wear my Halloween shirt Not on the wall We only kick balls In the dishwasher Daddy slept in the car Time-out chair Starbucks

Thank You! For an electronic version of this presentation visit: marksundberg. com/ABAI For a Thank You! For an electronic version of this presentation visit: marksundberg. com/ABAI For a copy of VB-MAPP intraverbal subtest visit: Avbpress. com Click on “Updates and downloads”