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Verbal Behavior and Autism Intervention

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Title: Verbal Behavior and Autism Intervention


1
Verbal Behavior and Autism Intervention
  • Mark L. Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA
  • marksundberg_at_astound.net

2
Introduction
  • It was suggested by Dr. Gina Green (2005) at last
    years ABA convention that language training
    procedures for children with autism that are
    based on Skinners (1957) analysis of verbal
    behavior should not be disseminated until data
    supporting those procedures are obtained
  • The current presentation is a response to Dr.
    Greens concerns about the use of Skinners
    analysis of verbal behavior for language
    assessment and intervention for children with
    autism

3
Introduction
  • Behavioral interventions in general have been
    quite successful for children with autism
  • With this success comes good news and bad news
  • The good news...
  • Increase in the demand for behavioral services
  • Increase in the recognition of behavior analysis
  • Increase in the demand for BCABAs BCBAs
  • Increase in the demand for training and
    university courses
  • Increase in the demand for teachers of behavior
    analysis
  • Increase in research opportunities
  • Increase in ABAInternational membership

4
Membership in ABA International

5
Introduction
  • However, with this success there is some bad news
  • Everybody is now an expert in behavior analysis
  • Widespread dissemination of behavioral techniques
    and services, often by unqualified people
  • Simplifying the concepts and procedures beyond
    recognition
  • Common to see procedures promoted without the
    analysis
  • Parallels to B-mod and education in the 60s?
  • What happened to the promise of behavior
    modification?
  • Similar concerns for the current popularity of
    the use of behavior analysis for the treatment of
    children with autism

6
Introduction
  • What constitutes a behavioral approach to
    treatment of children with autism?
  • Consumers must be confused. There are many models
    out there, often quite different from each other,
    but all claiming to be a behavioral approach
  • DTT
  • Lovaas model
  • CARD model
  • ABA
  • Pivotal response training
  • VB approach
  • CABAS
  • Competent learner model
  • Natural language paradigm
  • Milieu language training
  • Incidental teaching

7
Introduction
  • In addition, there are many other approaches and
    treatments such as...
  • Floortime
  • RDI
  • Son-Rise
  • Holding therapy
  • TEACCH
  • Secretion
  • Auditory training
  • Sensory integration
  • Weighted jackets
  • Deep pressure
  • Special diets
  • Vitamins
  • Medications
  • Swimming with dolphins
  • Decompression chambers
  • Chelation
  • Facilitated communication

8
Introduction
  • Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Gina Green and
    others, many of these pseudoscientific
    approaches have been identified and consumers
    have been warned about their ineffectiveness and
    even potential danger to children
  • However, at least years ABA convention Dr. Green
    added the Verbal Behavior Approach to her list
    of pseudoscientific approaches and suggested that
    it had similarities to facilitated communication
  • In her recent presentation at the NY-ABA titled
    Verbal Behavior An evidence-based technology
    for autism intervention? Dr. Green (2005)
    concluded the VB approach to autism
    intervention does not appear to meet accepted
    criteria for evidence-based practice or
    transferable behavioral technology
  • Others have expresses concern about the
    dissemination of verbal behavior procedures.
    Carr and Firth (2005) stated little research
    exists to support such widespread dissemination
    (of the VB approach)

9
Introduction
  • The purpose of the current presentation is to
    address the concerns raised by Dr. Green, Carr
    and Firth, and others about the unwarranted
    dissemination of the verbal behavior approach to
    language training for children with autism
  • The goal is to clarify what constitutes a verbal
    behavior approach, while demonstrating its
    empirical foundation, on-going research agenda,
    its value to children with autism, and hopefully,
    to get Dr. Green to remove verbal behavior from
    her list of pseudosciences

10
What Constitutes a Verbal Behavior Approach to
Autism Treatment?
  • First, I share Dr. Greens concern for the need
    for additional verbal behavior research. I
    believe this point is uncontroversial. (Sundberg,
    1991 301 Research topics from Skinners book
    Verbal Behavior)
  • Verbal behavior research was the primary purpose
    for starting the journal The Analysis of Verbal
    Behavior, now in its 22nd Volume, and published
    by ABA International
  • Second, I strongly share Dr. Greens concern
    about the improper dissemination of behavioral
    concepts and procedures
  • And, her concerns about the ubiquitous
    dissemination of pseudoscientific treatments for
    children with autism

11
What Constitutes a Verbal Behavior Approach to
Autism Treatment?
  • The basic teaching procedures consist of the
    standard methodology found in applied behavior
    analysis (e.g., Cooper, Heron, Heward, 1987)
  • Prompting
  • Fading
  • Pairing
  • Modeling
  • Shaping
  • Chaining
  • Differential reinforcement procedures (e.g., DRO,
    DRI, DRL)
  • Intermittent reinforcement procedures (e.g., FR,
    VR, FI, VI)

12
What Constitutes a Verbal Behavior Approach to
Autism Treatment?
  • Extinction procedures (e.g., planned ignoring)
  • Punishment procedures (e.g., reprimands)
  • Generalization
  • Discrimination training
  • Errorless learning
  • Transfer of stimulus control
  • Task analysis
  • Fluency procedures
  • Contingency contracting
  • Token economies

13
What Constitutes a Verbal Behavior Approach to
Autism Treatment?
  • Additional procedural elements include, for
    example....
  • Individualized assessment and intervention
    program
  • Frequent opportunities to respond
  • Use of discrete trial teaching procedures
  • Incidental natural environment teaching
    procedures
  • Data collection
  • Interspersel techniques
  • Behavioral momentum techniques
  • Peer and social interaction
  • Functional analyses
  • On-going analyses of performance by formally
    trained behavior analysts

14
What Constitutes a Verbal Behavior Approach to
Autism Treatment?
  • These procedures are (to varying degrees) common
    to most behavioral intervention programs for
    children with autism (e.g., Greer Keohane,
    2006 Howard, Sparkman, Cohen, Green,
    Stanislaw, 2005 Koegel Koegel, 1996 Leaf
    McEachin, 1999 Lovaas, 2003 Maurice, Green,
    Luce, 1996 Sundberg Partington, 1998), and
    thus all benefit from the same empirical
    foundation found in applied behavior analysis
  • However, these programs vary substantially in
    terms their treatment of language

15
What Constitutes a Verbal Behavior Approach to
Autism Treatment?
  • The major difference between the verbal behavior
    programs and the majority of discrete trial (DTT)
    and ABA programs available in the literature is
    the conceptual analysis of language that
    underlies the assessment and curriculum used in
    each program
  • How is language measured, classified, and
    assessed? What is the unit of analysis? What
    causes the emission of words and sentences? How
    is language acquired? What causes language errors
    and deficits?
  • Most DTT/ABA programs are based on the
    traditional linguistic classification system of
    expressive and receptive language, and the
    associated vernacular, concepts, and theoretical
    constructs related to language, which has its
    roots in cognitive psychology
  • The verbal behavior approach employs Skinners
    (1957) functional analysis of language, which has
    its roots in radical behaviorism

16
Skinners Analysis of Verbal Behavior
  • Language is learned behavior under the functional
    control of environmental contingencies
  • What happens when a man speaks or responds to
    speech is clearly a question about human behavior
    and hence a question to be answered with the
    concepts and techniques of psychology as an
    experimental science of behavior (Skinner, 1957,
    p. 5)
  • The analysis of verbal behavior involves the same
    behavioral principles and concepts that make up
    the analysis of nonverbal behavior. No new
    principles of behavior are required
  • Chapter 1 of Verbal Behavior is titled A
    Functional Analysis of Verbal Behavior
  • In Chapter 2 Skinner identifies the dependent and
    independent variables for a functional analysis
    of verbal behavior

17
A Functional Analysis of Verbal BehaviorThe
Basic Principles of Operant Behavior
  • Stimulus Control (SD) Response Reinforcement
  • Motivating Operation (MO/EO) Punishment
  • Extinction
  • Conditioned reinforcement
    Conditioned punishment Intermittent
    reinforcement

18
Skinners Analysis of Verbal Behavior
  • The traditional linguistic classification of
    words, sentences, and phrases as expressive and
    receptive language blends important functional
    distinctions between types of operant behavior,
    and appeals to cognitive explanations for the
    causes of language behavior (Skinner, 1957,
    Chapter 1)
  • Thus, in Chapter 1 of VB Skinner recommends
    against what has become the linguistic foundation
    of most DTT and ABA programs
  • While there are many conceptual and practical
    distinctions between a cognitive and behavior
    analysis of language, this presentation will
    focus on
  • Research on the distinction between the mand,
    tact, and intraverbal
  • A functional analysis of verbal assessment and
    intervention

19
Skinners Analysis of Verbal Behavior
  • At the core of Skinners analysis of language is
    the distinction between the mand, tact, and
    intraverbal (traditionally all classified as
    expressive language)
  • Is there conceptual and empirical support for
    this distinction?
  • Skinner identified three separate sources of
    antecedent control for these verbal operants
  • EO/MO control-------gtMand
  • Nonverbal SD---------gtTact
  • Verbal SD--------------gtIntraverbal
  • In cognitive analyses of language these three
    sources are commonly grouped together under the
    rubric of referent or meaning

20
Skinners Analysis of Verbal Behavior
  • The empirical question is Are these three
    antecedent variables functionally separate, or is
    there no value in making this distinction?
  • From a clinical standpoint, the two most common
    language problems demonstrated by children with
    autism that I have encountered over the past 32
    years is a defective mand repertoire and/or a
    defective intraverbal repertoire, despite often
    having strong tact and listener discrimination
    repertoires

21
Charlie Quick Assessment
22
Nathan Quick Assessment
23
Matt Quick Assessment
24
The Distinction Between the Mand and the Tact
  • Based on the distinction between the establishing
    operation (EO/MO) and stimulus control (SD) as
    separate sources of control
  • Skinnerian psychology (radical behaviorism, see
    Skinner, 1974) has always maintained that
    motivational control is different from stimulus
    control
  • In Behavior of Organisms (Skinner, 1938) Skinner
    devoted two chapters to the treatment of
    motivation Chapter 9 titled Drive and Chapter
    10 titled Drive and Conditioning The
    Interaction of Two Variables
  • Skinner also made it clear in the section titled
    Drive (is) Not a Stimulus (pp. 374-376) that
    motivation is not the same as discriminative,
    unconditioned, or conditioned stimuli

25
The Distinction Between the Mand and the Tact
  • Keller and Schoenfeld (1950) titled Chapter 9
    Motivation and further developed Skinners
    point, A drive is not a stimulus (p. 276), and
    suggested a new descriptive term...
    establishing operation (p. 271)
  • In Science and Human Behavior (1953) Skinner
    devoted three chapters to motivation Chapter 9
    Deprivation and Satiation, Chapter 10
    Emotion, and Chapter 11 Aversion, Avoidance,
    Anxiety
  • In Verbal Behavior (1957) Skinner had a full
    chapter on motivation and language (The Mand),
    and throughout the book provided many
    elaborations on motivational control -- as an
    antecedent variable

26
The Distinction Between the Mand and the Tact
  • Holland and Skinners (1961) book contained four
    chapters on motivation Chapters 7
    Deprivation, 8 Emotion I, 9 Avoidance and
    Escape Behavior, and 10 Emotion II
  • Millenson (1968) contained four chapters on
    motivation and presented an excellent summary of
    the relevant empirical research (p. 364-384)
    Chapters 15 Motivation I, 16 Motivation
    II,17 Aversive Contingencies, and 18
    Emotional Behavior
  • However, the topic of motivation was for the most
    part dropped from the first generation of Applied
    Behavior Analysis/Behavior Modification textbooks
    that followed Millensons book (e.g., Fantino
    Logan, 1979 Kazden, 1975 Martin Pear, 1978
    Powers Osborne, 1976 Whaley Malott, 1971)

27
The Distinction Between the Mand and the Tact
  • In explaining what happen to the analysis of
    motivation in behavior analysis, Michael (1993)
    pointed out, In applied behavior analysis or
    behavior modification, the concept of
    reinforcement seems to have taken over much of
    the subject matter that was once considered a
    part of the topic of motivation (p. 191)
  • There was a shift from the analysis of motivation
    as an antecedent variable to motivation as a
    consequence
  • In addition, motivation as a topic of research
    was absent from the behavioral journals. For
    example, The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
    contained no entries for establishing
    operations or motivation in the cumulative
    index (1978) covering the first 10 years of
    publication
  • During the next 10 years (1979-1988) there were
    still no entries for establishing operation.
    However, there were 5 entries for motivation,
    but they all involved the use of motivation as a
    consequence, rather than as an antecedent
    variable

28
The Distinction Between the Mand and the Tact
  • Motivation as an antecedent variable has returned
    to behavior analysis textbooks and now is a
    common topic in JABA thanks to Jack Michael,
    Brian Iwata, Wayne Fisher, and others
  • The JABA index for the years 1999-2005 contains
    29 entries for the EO, and 2 for the MO
    (motivating operations)
  • Malott, Whaley, Malott (1997) contains a full
    chapter on the EO. Catania (1998), Martin Paer
    (2002), and Pierce Epling (1995) all contain
    analyses of motivation throughout their books
  • The 2nd Edition of the Cooper, Heron, Heward
    book Applied Behavior Analysis (In press)
    contains a full chapter on motivation as well as
    a full chapter on Skinners analysis of verbal
    behavior

29
Clinical Value of EO and the Mand to Children
with autism
  • Many children with autism have absent or
    defective mand repertoires
  • Manding is a critical part of a typical childs
    language development
  • Tact training does not typically produce manding
    in early learners
  • A functional analysis of the childs verbal
    behavior often reveals that the response called a
    mand or a request is not under EO control, but
    rather SD control, thus not, by definition a mand

30
Defective Mand - Ally
  • EO Does not evoke a mand
  • __________________________________________________
    ____
  • EO
  • Does not evoke a mand
  • Object
  • __________________________________________________
    ____
  • Intraverbal prompt
  • (e.g. Sign cookie) Evokes a response
  • Imitative prompt (not a mand)
  • (ASL sign)
  • __________________________________________________
    __________________

31
A Sample of the Published Empirical Research on
the EO, and the Mand and Tact
  • Hung (1980)
  • Simic Bucher (1980)
  • Lamarre Holland (1985)
  • Pierce, Epling, Boer (1986)
  • Hall Sundberg (1987)
  • Carroll Hesse, (1987)
  • Stafford, Sundberg, Braam (1988)
  • Yamamoto Mochizuki (1988)
  • McPherson Osborne (1988)
  • De Freitas Ribeiro (1989)
  • Sigafoos, Doss, Reichle (1989)
  • Sundberg, San Juan, Dawdy, Arguelles (1990)

32
A Sample of the Published Empirical Research on
the EO, and the Mand and Tact
  • Sigafoos, Reichle, Doss, Hall, Pettitt (1990)
  • Baer Detrich (1990)
  • Braam Sundberg (1991)
  • Sprague Horner (1992)
  • Williams Greer (1993)
  • Twyman (1996)
  • Drasgow, Halle, Ostrosky (1998)
  • Drash, High, Tudor (1999)
  • Brown, Wacker, Derby, Peck, Richman, Sasso
    (2000)
  • Knutson Harding (2000)
  • Barnes-Holmes Barnes-Holmes (2000)
  • Goh, Iwata, DeLeon (2000)

33
A Sample of the Published Empirical Researchon
the EO, and the Mand and Tact
  • Sundberg, Loeb, Hale, Eigenheer (2002)
  • Arntzen Almas (2002)
  • Ewing, Magee, Ellis (2002)
  • Winborn, Wacker, Richman, Asmus, Geier (2002)
  • Chambers Rehfeldt (2003)
  • Ross Greer (2003)
  • Nuzzolo-Gomez Greer (2004)
  • Taylor, Hoch, Potter, Rodriguez, Spinnato,
    Kalaigian (2005)
  • Petursdottir, Carr, Michael (2005)
  • Hartman Klatt (2005)
  • Wallace, Iwata, Hanley (2006)
  • Sweeney, Carbone, OBrien, Zecchin, Janecky
    (2006)

34
A Sample of the Published Empirical Research on
the EO, and the Mand and Tact
  • Taylor, Hoch, Potter, Rodriguez, Spinnato,
    Kalaigian (2005)
  • EO must be present to evoke mands (initiations to
    peers)
  • Petursdottir, Carr, Michael (2005)
  • Mand training resulted in tacts, but tact
    training did not result in mands
  • There doesnt appear to be a body of research
    that contradicts the separation of the mand and
    tact at the time of initial acquisition, or
    manding without EOs
  • Empirical research reviews
  • Greer, R. D., Keohane D. (2005). The evolution
    of verbal behavior in children. Behavioral
    Development, 1, 31-48.
  • Oah, S., Dickinson, A.M. (1989). A review of
    empirical studies on verbal behavior. The
    Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 7, 53-68.
  • Sautter, R., LeBlanc, L. (2006). The empirical
    applications of Skinners analysis of verbal
    behavior with humans. The Analysis of Verbal
    Behavior.

35
A Sample of the Published Empirical Research on
the EO, and the Mand and Tact
  • EO and Mand research across a variety of
    populations with similar effects
  • Children with autism (e.g., Ross Greer, 2003)
  • Language delayed children (e.g., Twyman, 1996)
  • Typical children (e.g., Petursdottir, Carr,
    Michael, 2005)
  • Deaf/autistic teenagers e.g., (Hall Sundberg,
    1987)
  • Children with developmental disabilities (e.g.,
    Sigafoos, Doss, Reichle, 1989)
  • Adults with developmental disabilities (e.g.,
    Chambers Rehfeldt, 2003)
  • Adults with traumatic brain injury (e.g.,
    Sundberg, San Juan, Dawdy,
  • Arguelles, 1990)
  • Pigeons (e.g., Sundberg, 1985)
  • Rats (e.g., Pierce, Epling, Boer, 1986)
  • Chimpanzees (e.g., Savage-Rumbaugh, 1984)
  • Parrots (e.g., Pepperberg, 1988)

36
A Sample of the Published Empirical Research on
the EO, and the Mand and Tact
  • EO and Mand research and reviews across a variety
    of behavioral journals
  • JEAB (e.g., Lamarre Holland, 1985)
  • JABA (e.g., Wallace, Iwata, Hanley, 2006)
  • TAVB (e.g., Petursdottir, Carr, Michael, 2005)
  • TBA (e.g., Michael, 1993)
  • Behavioral Development (e.g., Greer Koehane,
    2005)
  • Research in Developmental Disabilities (e.g.,
    Taylor, Hoch, et al., 2005)
  • Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities
    (e.g., Hung, 1980)
  • Behavior Modification (e.g., Rogers-Warren
    Warren, 1980)
  • Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior
    Intervention (e.g., Pistoljevic Greer, 2006)

37
EO Antecedent Control and Mand Assessment and
Intervention in DTT and ABA Programs
  • Lovaas, 1977, 1981, 2003 (clearly the most
    influential, outcome data)
  • Expressive-receptive framework for language
  • Terminology and analysis derived from traditional
    linguistics
  • No mention of EO/motivation antecedent control
  • All language skills are presented as SD control
  • Closest mand training activity is the I Want___
    program found late in the program (between the
    adjective and preposition chapters).
    Requesting does not appear in the 2003 index
  • No focus on the fact that a single word, phrase,
    or sentence can be strong in one repertoire and
    not another
  • No functional analysis of words as behavior

38
How ABA is perceived in the pressTime Magazine,
May 15, 2006
  • Biased presentation of behavior analysis and an
    excellent behavioral program that is clearly
    guided by behavioral principles, including the
    analysis of VB, EOs, etc.
  • Floortime presented with a very favorable bias,
    despite the acknowledged lack of data.
    Greenspanis responding with a series of studies
    just getting under way
  • What does Floortime have that the reporter seemed
    so impressed with?
  • David, 6, goes down a slide again and again. A
    teacher playfully blocks his way, She wants him
    to...say Move. She's got an agenda he doesn't
    know it. He keeps going back for more because
    it's fun....Knowing to ask...is part of learning
    to regulate oneself.
  • Manding!!!
  • We have the analysis and data. Floortime gets the
    credit
  • How about natural environment teaching, making
    learning fun, and pairing? Again, we have the
    analysis and data, Floortime gets the credit
  • DTT/ABA cannot afford to wait any longer, or it
    will go the route of education in the 60s

39
The Distinction Between the the Tact and the
Intraverbal
  • A substantial number of children with autism have
    extensive tact and RD repertoires, but a weak,
    absent, or defective intraverbal repertoire
  • The existing body of research supports the
    conceptual analysis that a response acquired
    under nonverbal stimulus control may not
    automatically transfer to verbal stimulus control
  • For example, a child may be able to say Pool when
    he sees a swimming pool (Nonverbal SD), but not
    say Pool when asked Where do you go swimming?
    (Verbal SD)

40
Empirical Research on the Distinction Between the
Tact and Intraverbal
  • Braam Poling (1983)
  • Chase, Johnson, Sulzer-Azaroff (1985)
  • Luciano (1986)
  • Daly (1987)
  • Lodhi Greer (1989)
  • Tenenbaum Wolking (1989)
  • Watkins, Pack-Teixeira, Howard (1989)
  • Sundberg, San Juan, Dawdy, Arguelles (1990)
  • Partington Bailey (1993)
  • Sundberg, Endicott, Eigenheer (2000)
  • Finkel Williams (2001)
  • Miguel, Petursdottir, Carr (2005)

41
Empirical Research on the Distinction Between the
Tact and Intraverbal
  • Two examples of research
  • Braam Poling (1983) found that children with
    autism who could emit specific responses under
    tact control could not emit the same response
    forms under intraverbal control. Transfer of
    stimulus control between nonverbal SDs and verbal
    stimuli were successful
  • Miguel, Petursdottir, Carr (2005) replicated
    the basic procedures from Braam and Poling (1983)
    and concluded while participants were able to
    tactand point to the picturesthey were not
    necessarily able to reliably produce thematically
    related intraverbal responses(until) intraverbal
    training was used
  • No body of research has emerged to show the tact
    and intraverbal are the same

42
Clinical Value of Verbal Stimulus Control and the
Intraverbal to Children with Autism
  • Many children with autism have absent or
    defective intraverbal repertoires
  • Verbal behavior evoked by verbal discriminative
    stimuli constitute a significant element of human
    verbal interaction
  • A functional analysis of the child with autisms
    verbal behavior often reveals that the response
    called intraverbal or conversational is not under
    verbal stimulus control, but rather under
    nonverbal stimulus control, or EO control, thus
    by definition, not an intraverbal
  • Many common verbal errors by children with autism
    are related to defective verbal stimulus control
  • Verbal stimulus control is extremely complicated,
    usually involving verbal conditional
    discriminations where one verbal stimulus alters
    the evocative effect of another verbal stimulus
    (e.g., What do you wear to the beach? vs. What do
    you take to the beach?)

43
Verbal Stimulus Control and Verbal Conditional
Discriminations in ABA
  • Research on verbal stimulus control, conditional
    discriminations, and especially verbal
    conditional discriminations is absent from the
    applied journals
  • A review of the JABA indexes from 1968 to 2005
    shows only 5 entries for conditional
    discriminations, and none for verbal conditional
    discriminations
  • Thus, like the EO and the mand, the antecedent
    variables that evoke intraverbal behavior have
    not been a focus of behavioral research
  • However, there is no argument that much of our
    verbal behavior is controlled by verbal SDs
    (e.g., answering questions)

44
Verbal Stimulus Control and Intraverbal
Assessment and Intervention in DTT and ABA
Programs
  • Lovaas (1977, 1981, 2003)
  • No sections on answering questions, fill-ins,
    verbal categories, etc. or what could be
    identified as intraverbal training
  • No mention of verbal antecedent control of verbal
    behavior (all under receptive language)
  • No mention of verbal conditional discriminations
  • Cognitive theory of words, referents, and
    meanings drives the language curriculum

45
Summary of the Empirical Research Supporting
Verbal Behavior
  • Sautter LeBlanc (2006)
  • The volume of empirical support for Skinners
    (1957) analysis of verbal behavior has increased
    three fold over the past 15 years.
  • To date, empirical investigations have provided
    initial support for...
  • Skinners notion of functional
    independence,
  • the importance of the mand as the
    preliminary focus of language training,
  • the utility of transfer of stimulus control
    procedures
  • the benefits of multiply controlled
    language in the acquisition
  • and development of more complex
    verbal behavior
  • the notion of the establishing operation
    as a critical controlling variable
  • for the mand

46
Summary of the Empirical Research Supporting
Verbal Behavior
  • Greer Koehane (2005)
  • While a large portion of the literature on
    verbal behavior has been theoretical, we have
    identified over 88 experiments devoted to testing
    the theory. In our program of research we have
    completed approximately 44 experiments and a
    number of replications (Greer Koehane, 2005,
    p. 32).

47
Summary of the Empirical Research Supporting
Verbal Behavior
  • Horne Lowe (1996) Naming
  • Horne, Hughes, Lowe (2006) conclude that a
    route for future research may be to concentrate
    directly on the extraordinary behavioral
    repertoires that we term language or verbal
    behavior and the issue of how it transforms human
    learning. Skinner (1957) had clearly recognized
    the importance of this behavior and had begun to
    establish a theoretical framework for language
    research....The naming account...in conjunction
    with the present series of experimental tests, is
    an attempt to advance this theory and to
    establish a coherent empirical base for its
    further development (p. 271)

48
Conclusion
  • There is a rapidly growing body of empirical
    research supporting various aspects of Skinners
    analysis of verbal behavior
  • This conference has contained many excellent
    examples of verbal behavior research on a wide
    range of topics (including pick-up lines)
  • There are no contradictory lines of research on
    the distinction between the mand, tact, and
    intraverbal
  • The VB approach is just behavior analysis
  • The VB approach shares the same procedures and
    methods as the other behavioral approaches, but
    is based on a functional rather than structural
    analysis of language

49
Conclusion
  • Should we continue to disseminate verbal behavior
    procedures?
  • Sundberg Michael (2001) suggested five major
    contributions that Skinners analysis of verbal
    behavior could make to the existing DTT/ABA
    programs for children with autism
  • Mand training
  • Motivation (EO) as an independent variable in
    language training
  • Intraverbal training
  • Automatic reinforcement
  • A functional analysis of verbal responses, verbal
    errors, language assessment, and curriculum
    development

50
Conclusion
  • Is there enough empirical support for the
    dissemination of these suggestions?
  • Mand training
  • Yes
  • Motivation (EO) as an independent variable
  • Yes
  • Intraverbal training
  • Yes
  • Automatic reinforcement
  • No (but, see Tim Vollmers presentation at 11am
    this morning)
  • A functional analysis of verbal responses, verbal
    errors, language assessment, and curriculum
    development
  • Yes

51
Conclusion
  • The VB approach is simply normative applied
    behavior analysis with a few refinements. That
    is, it incorporates all of the standard
    methodology of applied behavior analysis, but it
    explicitly adopts Skinner's interpretive
    framework for analyzing verbal contingencies. In
    other words, it is a small variation on a
    methodology that has an enormous empirical
    foundation. The worst-case scenario is that the
    added framework doesn't help. But even in that
    case the child is still getting a full-fledged
    program of applied behavior analysis procedures.
    It is simply hard to believe that a set of
    procedures guided only by a distinction between
    receptive and expressive language can be as sharp
    as one that respects all of the various types of
    contingencies analyzed by Skinner (Palmer, 2005)

52
Conclusions
  • Recommendations
  • Continue to conduct experimental and applied
    research on verbal behavior (Carr Firth, 2005
    Sautter LeBlanc, 2006 Sundberg, 1991)
  • Conduct case histories
  • Obtain more VB outcome data

53
Conclusion
  • In 1978 B.F. Skinner wrote
  • Verbal Behaviorwill, I believe, prove to be my
    most important work (p. 122)
  • Lets get on with the proving!

54
Thank You!
  • For an electronic version of this presentation
    email
  • marksundberg_at_astound.net
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