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Teaching children with autism conversational speech using a cue card/written script program.

Abstract

This study assessed the efficacy of a written script/cue card program to teach verbal, literate, children with autism conversational speech skills. Scripted conversations were created about abstract, age appropriate topics. Children's lines were printed on "cue cards". Three boys, ages 8,9, and 10, were taught to respond to a conversational question and then ask a contextually appropriate question. Initially, all three boys demonstrated low frequencies of conversational speech. Following intervention, all three quickly met the training criteria, and maintained correct responding without cue cards. Responding generalized to untrained topics, and across conversants and settings.

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Severe language disturbances are a hallmark feature of autism (Charlop-Christy & LeBlanc, 1999; Charlop-Christy & Carpenter, 2000). Approximately 50% of children with autism are functionally mute (Rutter, 1978), while the remainder of the children who do speak display severe language deficits (e.g., Rimland, 1964; Wing, 1976). Speech is usually limited to simple responses to questions, or to brief expressions of a need or desire (e.g., "1 want cookie") (Schreibman, 1988). This differs dramatically from conversational speech, which requires the use of several complex language skills including initiation and expansion of a conversational topic, establishing an interactive "to and fro" pattern of a conversation, and finally, maintaining a verbal exchange. The failure of children with autism to develop conversational speech has additional drawbacks. It eliminates opportunities to have extended verbal interactions with others and to learn through social interaction. In turn, this exacerbates the severe social with drawal and aloofness associated with autism (Charlop-Christy & Kelso, in press).

Research has been conducted with children with autism addressing specific aspects of conversational speech such as spontaneous speech, (Charlop, Schreibman, & Thibodeau, 1985; Charlop & Trasowech, 1991; Charlop & Walsh, 1986), verbal assertiveness (McGee, Krantz, & McClannahan, 1984), and verbal responsiveness (Loveland & Tunali, 1991; Secan, Egel, & Tilley, 1989). Although few studies have targeted conversational speech as a complete chain of behaviors, these studies were important in that they focused on teaching particular components of conversational speech (e.g., asking a question).

One approach that has been successful in teaching aspects of conversational speech is the use of pre-determined scripts. Goldstein and Cisar (1992) taught preschool-age children with autism role-specific dialogue in sociodramatic play situations. A loosely structured social script was taught through modeling, prompting, and reinforcement procedures. The children first were given a description of their specific role within the play situation (e.g., carnival worker who sold hotdogs). Role-appropriate behavior and speech were prompted and modeled by the teacher. Following teaching sessions, role-appropriate speech and play in various theme-related play settings increased, and generalized to three other sociodramatic play situations. Although conversational speech per se was not targeted in this study, increasing reciprocal social interaction skills, an important aspect of conversational speech, was addressed.

Recent research by Krantz and McClannahan (1993) has provided a promising procedure using written scripts to facilitate social initiations of children with autism. Written scripts consisting of 10 single-line social initiation statements (e.g., "John, did you like to swing outside today?") were given to four children with autism while working on art projects. The children were physically prompted to read each initiation, and to check off each statement after it had been said. The written script then was faded out, word by word, from end to beginning. All children increased initiations, and the initiations generalized across settings, teacher, activity, and time. Upon conclusion of the study, the participants' level of responding was in the same range as that of a group of three non-disabled peers. Thus, the use of written scripts was successful in increasing frequencies of verbal initiation.

There is a paucity of literature examining the acquisition of conversational speech as a continued verbal interaction. One such study was conducted by Haring, Roger, Lee, Breen, and Gaylord-Ross (1986) who taught conversational speech (i.e., conversational initiation and expansion) to language impaired adolescents. Participants were taught work-related initiations and expansions via modeling and role-play. Training resulted in increased frequency and duration of conversational exchanges among the participants and their peers in the school cafeteria where they worked, as well as greater diversity in topics of initiation. In addition, participants maintained reciprocal verbal interactions by expanding on conversational topics.

Charlop and Milstein (1989) developed a video modeling paradigm to teach conversational speech to children with autism. Conversational scripts were created based on specific objects, such as toys or books. Each conversation consisted of 6 lines, 3 each for the experimenter and child. Each line consisted of two parts; an answer and a question. These conversations were spoken by the children's therapists and videotaped for later modeling. During baseline, all participants displayed very low frequencies of correct conversational speech. The children then viewed the videotape of the scripted conversation. Following video modeling, all children met criterion and learned conversational speech, and such responding generalized to different conversational partners, and to other, untrained topics. Importantly, response generalization also occurred.

The success of past research using scripts (e.g., Charlop and Milstein, 1989; Goldstein and Cisar, 1992) together with Krantz and McClannahan's (1993) procedure of reading lines of scripts to facilitate speech suggests a new direction for research. Combining scripted conversations presented via written cue cards may be an effective and practical method of teaching children with autism to engage in conversational speech. Importantly, providing conversational scripts via cue cards would take advantage of the reading skills exhibited by some children with autism. It has long been observed that children with autism may exhibit isolated areas of skills, such as reading, performing mathematical calculations, or memorization of facts. Children with such skills generally show an intense interest in, or preoccupation with, that particular field, and may spend much time engaging in related activities (e.g., Kanner, 1943; Rimland, 1978). Consequently, a cue card procedure would be highly motivating to a child with autis m who lacked conversational skills, but who displayed competence in and a preoccupation with reading.

The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effectiveness of a cue card/written script program in teaching conversational speech to verbal, literate children with autism. In addition, generalization of conversational skills learned through the cue card/written script program was assessed with untrained topics of conversation, and with a different conversational partner in a different setting. The present study will also contribute to the literature by: 1) assessing the effect of creating a treatment protocol which uses to advantage an isolated skill area, 2) assessing the use of cue cards as a viable technique to teach sustained conversations, and 3) teaching children with autism to converse about abstract topics, outside of physically present objects in the environment.

Method

Participants

Participants were three boys with autism who attended an after-school behavioral treatment program twice a week. The boys were diagnosed by a licensed psychologist according to DSM V criteria for autism. At the outset of the study, all participants were verbal and used some spontaneous speech to make requests and/or ask questions, but, in general, their speech was limited to responding to the questions of others. They did not exhibit appropriate conversational speech or interactive question asking skills. All three participants were literate, and although reading levels varied from child to child, pretesting revealed that all were capable of reading scripts similar to those that were used in this study.

Jonah was 8 years, 10 months old with a mental age of 4 years, 4 months as measured by the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (Sparrow, Balla, & Cicchetti, 1984). Jonah exhibited language disturbances including extensive delayed and immediate echolalia. He had both receptive and expressive language skills and used simple phrases to express desires and to answer questions addressed to him. However, Jonah lacked appropriate conversational speech. He answered basic conversational questions (e.g., "How are you?"), but would not ask questions in return. He loved to read and, indeed, had exceptional reading skills, with letter and word discrimination level of 7 years, 6 months as tested with the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery Revised (WJ-R; Woodcock & Johnson, 1989). In addition, Jonah had excellent memory skills and exhibited a strong preference for written material such as street signs, maps, and books.

Brandon was 8 years, 6 months old. He exhibited several language disturbances symptomatic of autism, including pronoun reversal, delayed echolalia, and perseverative speech. Brandon had good verbal skills, including extensive receptive and expressive vocabularies, and frequently spoke spontaneously. He obtained a Verbal Scale IQ of 79 on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children -- Revised (WISCR; Wechsler, 1974). Brandon's communication skills were approximately at the 5 year 8 month level, as measured by the Communication Domain of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. This child read within the average range of performance at the second grade level, as measured by the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (Kaufman & Kaufman, 1985), with a Reading Decoding score of 98 and a Reading Comprehension score of 93. Although he occasionally engaged in some conversational speech, interactions were based on perseverative topics, limiting the content of conversation. Brandon displayed an interest in letters, fre quently drawing letters in the air or ground in a self-stimulatory manner.

Cameron was 11 years, 7 months old with a mental age of 4 years, 10 months as measured by the Communication Domain of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. He had strong verbal skills, obtaining a verbal I.Q. of 60 on the WISC-R. Cameron read at the 3.4 grade level, with letter-word discrimination at the 4.1 grade level as per the WJ-R. Cameron displayed some inappropriate language, exhibiting delayed echoes as well as persevering on certain topics. This child frequently engaged in spontaneous speech, as well as limited conversational speech. However, his questions were frequently inappropriate and he often needed prompting to ask a contextually appropriate question. His conversational interactions were brief, usually being limited to one exchange. In general, this child acted inappropriately in social situations, demanding not to be spoken to or touched. Cameron, too, exhibited preference for words and letters, which he chose as reinforcers during work sessions at his after school clinic.

Materials

Scripts

Conversational scripts (See Appendix, Conversations A-C for each child) were developed for later use on the cue cards. All conversations were composed of seven lines, each consisting of a statement plus a question, with the exception of the first and last line which consisted of a question and a statement to initiate and conclude the conversation. The topics of conversation did not relate to physically present objects, but were abstract, relating to such activities as school, favorite pastimes, and watching television. Topics chosen were considered typical of verbal interactions between peers, or were of particular interest to a participant.

Cue cards

Conversations were presented to the children on cue cards. Each line of the conversation, consisting of a response and a question, was written on a separate card. The words were printed in upper and lower case letters with appropriate punctuation.

Settings

The study was conducted in a therapy room at the children's after-school program. The room measured 2.9 m by 2.9 m and contained a small table, two small chairs and a closet of toys. The generalization setting was the after-school program's play room. The play room measured 5 m by 4.5 m and contained two large and two small chairs, a small table, and several shelves of toys. One wall of both rooms had a built-in one-way mirror for observation and reliability data collection purposes.

Design

A multiple baseline design across subjects, with embedded multiple probes within child across conversations was used. Probes were taken throughout the program to assess generalization of conversational skills to situations other than the training conditions.

Procedure

Baseline

The child and experimenter were seated in small chairs directly across from each other, approximately 3 feet apart. The experimenter asked the child a conversational question from the predetermined conversational script. A ten second time delay was given to allow the child time to respond (e.g., Charlop, Schreibman, & Thibodeau, 1985). Baseline frequencies of responding were established through recording occurrences of appropriate conversational speech. Responses were recorded as correct if they contained both an answer to the question posed as well as a contextually appropriate question. If a child did not respond, or responded in an inappropriate manner (e.g., talking about a perseverative topic, engaging in echolalia), the response was scored as incorrect and the experimenter continued with the next line of the conversation. Any appropriate responses to the experimenter's questions were given a normal social acknowledgment (e.g., "uh huh", "yeah") to encourage further speech. Although occurrences were rare , if the child responded with an answer followed by a contextually appropriate question, the experimenter answered his question, and continued the conversation along the topic proposed by the child.

To increase the likelihood of correct response during baseline and to rule out the need for future treatment, the following "traditional" procedures were implemented during baseline. During baseline only, the experimenter modeled the child's first scripted response following the initial presentation of the first question for each conversation. For example, the experimenter would say, "Do you like to draw?", then immediately model the scripted response, "Say, 'Yes. Do you like to draw?'". The experimenter also prompted conversational speech by telling the child, "Ask me a question now". If any conversations were completed, a reinforcer (i.e., food, praise, a favorite toy) would be provided. Reinforcement was given throughout the course of the study for attending to the task and for good sitting.

Generalization Probes

Generalization probes were taken during baseline and after each child had met the training criterion of 100% on the conversation without the cue cards. The procedure for generalization probes was identical to that followed during the baseline period. Cue cards were not presented during any generalization probes.

Conversational Partners and Settings. Each participant was presented with the initial conversational question from each training conversation by a parent. Parents initiated conversations using the experimenter's scripted lines, and were instructed to respond to their child's appropriate conversational speech as they naturally would. Parents were also instructed to continue the conversation by asking expansion questions as per the training script. If the child failed to respond or responded inappropriately, the parents were instructed to continue on with the next line of the conversation. Jonah and Brandon conversed with their mothers, while Cameron spoke separately with both parents. The child and parent conversed while seated on chairs in the after school program's play room.

Topics of Conversation. Topic generalization probes were conducted by the experimenter in the training setting. Topic generalization probes were conducted using previously unrehearsed conversational initiations (See Appendix, Initiations A'-C' for each child). As the children received no training on these conversational topics, the nature of the conversation varied with each child's response to the initial question. For this reason complete scripts were not created for topic probes. Generalization initiations were structurally similar to the initial question in the corresponding training conversation, but referred to different topics. Results of topic probes indicated the extent to which new conversational skills had been integrated into each child's normal behavioral repertoire.

Cue Card/Written Script Conversation Program

The cue card/written script conversation program was implemented in the training setting, with the child seated across from the experimenter, as in baseline. The experimenter asked the initial conversational question from the predetermined conversation, then immediately presented the child with a cue card upon which a scripted response and question were written. The child was told to "read it". If the child began to read the card silently he was asked to "read it out loud", to ensure that he read the lines correctly. The child was then asked to repeat the scripted line to the experimenter while maintaining eye contact with her. If the child failed to follow the experimenter's directions (e.g., did not read the entire cue card, did not maintain eye contact) he was given a verbal prompt to do so. This procedure was repeated for each of the child's three lines in the conversation. Upon correct completion of the conversation the child was given reinforcement (i.e., praise, a high five) for good reading and for go od sitting and attention. Cue cards were presented in this manner until the child correctly completed the procedure for two consecutive conversations. The child was then tested for acquisition of conversational speech skills.

Testing

During testing, all cue cards were removed and the child was again asked the initial conversational question. As in baseline, a ten second time delay was provided to facilitate a correct response from the child. If the child did not respond within the ten second period, the response was scored as incorrect, and the experimenter continued on with the next line of the conversation. Contextually inappropriate responses, or responses limited to only a response or only a question, also were scored as incorrect. If the child responded with the scripted line, or with any other contextually appropriate response consisting of an answer and a question, the response was scored as correct. If a score of 100% correct was not obtained for that conversation, the cue cards were presented again in the manner described above, followed immediately by testing without the cue cards. This procedure was repeated until the child met the testing criterion of 100% correct, without use of the cue cards, for two consecutive trials.

Interobserver Agreement

Reliability data were collected during approximately 50% of baseline, training, and generalization conversations. Reliability raters recorded the number of correct and incorrect responses made. An agreement was scored if both the reliability rater and the experimenter scored a response as correct or incorrect. Reliability was calculated by dividing the number of agreements by the total number of agreements and disagreements, and multiplying the amount by 100. Interobserver agreement of appropriate conversational speech during baseline was 89.9%, 90.7%, and 87.5%; agreement on script training was 92.9%, 100%, and 91.7%; agreement on testing was 90.3%, 92.7%, and 93.3%, and agreement on generalization probes was 100%, 88.9%, and 90.5% for Jonah, Brandon, and Cameron, respectively.

Results

The results for Jonah, Brandon, and Cameron can be seen in Figures 1, 2, and 3 respectively. During baseline, all children failed to acquire conversational speech with traditional prompting and reinforcement techniques, averaging between 0 and I correct response in training and generalization conditions. However, all children rapidly met criterion following intervention with cue cards, and met testing criterion when cue cards were removed. In addition, generalization to untrained topics, and persons and settings was demonstrated. Importantly, for both Jonah and Cameron, a response generalization effect to the other conversations was seen following intervention with the first conversation.

As seen in Figure 1, Jonah demonstrated no correct responses in training and generalization settings during baseline for Conversation A. Only one conversational question was answered correctly during baseline, occurring during a conversational partner and setting generalization probe. Upon intervention with cue cards, Jonah rapidly met the training criterion of 100% correct responding for two consecutive conversations. Importantly, 100% correct responding was maintained during testing without the cue cards. Correct responding generalized in both conversational partner/setting and topic probes.

During the first few data points in baseline for Conversation B, Jonah had no correct responses. However, upon intervention with Conversation A, a slight response generalization effect was then seen in Conversation B, with Jonah's frequency of response increasing from 0 to between 1 and 2 correct conversational responses, and ultimately stabilizing at 2 correct responses. Upon intervention with the cue cards, Jonah immediately met training criterion for Conversation B. The frequency of response of 100% correct was maintained throughout testing without cue cards, and was seen in both the untrained topic, and person and setting generalization probes.

Jonah also had no correct responses during baseline for Conversation C, except during a generalization probe to an untrained topic. Upon intervention, training criterion for Conversation C was met immediately. However when cue cards were removed, responding returned to baseline frequencies. Therefore, cue cards were presented a second time, whereupon criterion again was met immediately. Successful withdrawal of cue cards was then completed. However generalization was not seen with this conversation.

Brandon (Figure 2) maintained a frequency of 0 to 1 out of 3 correct responses during baseline for Conversation A. Criterion was met immediately following intervention with cue cards. A frequency of response of 3 out of 3 correct was maintained during testing without cue cards and in all generalization probes.

Performance on Conversation B was similar to that of Conversation A, with Brandon correctly responding to 0 to 1 conversational questions during baseline. A slight response generalization effect was seen following intervention on Conversation A, with Brandon responding correctly to 2 out of 3 conversational questions for two nonconsecutive conversations. However, prior to intervention, responding returned to between 0 to I correct responses. Training criterion was met quickly upon intervention with cue cards, and Brandon also maintained 3 out of 3 correct responses during testing without cue cards. While some generalization to an untrained topic was seen for this conversation, criterion performance was not met generalization did not occur in the person/setting probe.

Brandon's baseline frequency of responding for Conversation C was higher than for the previous two conversations, averaging about 2 out of 3 correct conversational responses. Upon intervention with cue cards, training criterion was quickly met. Frequency of 3 out of 3 correct responses was maintained during testing without cue cards, and some generalization to an untrained topic was seen. Frequency of responding in the person/setting probe did not differ from baseline.

Cameron's performance throughout the program (Figure 3) was similar to that of Brandon. For Conversation A, Cameron's baseline frequency of responding was 0 to 1 correct out of 3. Training criterion was met immediately following intervention with cue cards. Cameron maintained a high frequency of correct responding during testing without cue cards, during generalization probes to an unrehearsed topic, and to a different conversant in an untrained setting.

Cameron's initial baseline performance on Conversation B was similar to that of Conversation A, with 0 to 1 correct responses. A slight response generalization effect was seen following intervention on Conversation A, with frequency of responding increasing from I to 2 correct responses. Performance increased to 3 out of 3 correct responses upon intervention with cue cards, maintained throughout testing without cue cards, and maintained to all generalization probes.

Initially, Cameron did not correctly respond to any of the conversational questions during the first few data points in baseline for Conversation C. However, frequency of responding increased to 1 correct, and then to 2 correct following intervention with Conversation A. As with Conversations A and B, Cameron immediately met the training criterion upon intervention with cue cards, and maintained throughout testing without cue cards, and to all generalization probes.

Discussion

The results of this study demonstrated the efficacy of teaching conversational speech through a cue card/written script program with 3 children with autism. During intervention, all participants rapidly increased occurrences of appropriate conversational speech from their baseline frequencies. After only 2 to 4 presentations of cue cards, the children reached the training criterion of 100% correct responding for 2 consecutive conversations. In addition, when cue cards were withdrawn, the testing criterion of 100% correct responding for 2 consecutive conversations was met by all children. Generalization of skills was also demonstrated. These results are important in that they indicated, first, that verbal, literate children with autism may be taught conversational speech skills through the use of cue cards. Secondly, many of these skills can be generalized and used in other, untrained, situations.

Although past research has taught conversational speech skills using procedures such as prompting and modeling techniques (e.g., Goldstein & Cisar, 1992) and video modeling procedures (e.g., Charlop & Milstein, 1988), the present study adds to this literature in several ways. First, the use of cue cards as a training medium is inexpensive and does not require special equipment or additional personnel for implementation. In addition, presenting written scripts on cue cards may provide a more convenient alternative to video modeling, as conversations can be quickly and easily tailored to children's individual topic preferences (e.g., include the name of the child's favorite television show, or favorite game). Also, the success of this technique in teaching children to converse on abstract topics is significant, in that previous research has focused primarily on concrete topics, frequently with the objects of discussion present (e.g., Goldstein & Cisar, 1992). Those studies that did address speaking about abstra ct topics, items or concepts not physically present in the environment, found little (Charlop & Milstein, 1988) to no (Secan et al., 1989) generalization. Finally, the rapid acquisition of skills by the children in the present study indicated that training time would be minimal for both staff and students compared with alternate treatments.

This study expanded on the research of Krantz and McClannahan (1993) who used written scripts to teach social initiations to children with autism. Children in Krantz and McClannahan's study were presented with a sheet of paper upon which several initiation lines were written. The written lines simultaneously were faded in a back to front manner. In the present study, the use of written scripts was extended to teach conversational speech. The format of presentation during training differed from that of Krantz and McClannahan, as conversational lines were each presented discretely on individual cue cards. In addition, unlike Krantz and McClannahan's study, no fading procedure was necessary. Further, this study extended this previous work by focusing on behaviors of longer duration (i.e., a 7 line conversation).

Support for the effectiveness of cue card training as a treatment technique is reflected in the boys' high frequencies of responding in generalization conditions, and may reflect learning of the to-and-fro pattern of conversational speech. If learning of the pattern of conversational speech had not occurred, responses to generalization topic probes would have been expected to reflect rote memorization of lines from training conversations. However, with the exception of Conversation C for Jonah, all the children appropriately answered previously unrehearsed questions, and responded with contextually appropriate questions. This is evidence of response variation in that the boys used untrained sentences (e.g., "Do you like videos?, "What else is your favorite show?") and maintained new, untrained conversations. Generalization also was seen in the person/setting probe condition, where each child participated in a trained conversation with his parent in an untrained setting.

The specific topic of conversation initially needs to be chosen carefully. The topic of Conversation B, "What did you do today?", may have been problematic for Brandon in that he had a propensity to perseverate on the days events when speaking with his mother. Jonah also may have had similar problems with Conversation C. Conversely, specific topics may have a facilitatory effect. For example, Jonah's conversations included watching T.V. and drawing, both of which were preferred activities for him (i.e., he engaged in both activities daily). Preferred topics such as these may have been more motivating for the boys than other comparatively neutral topics. Indeed, past research has indicated that use of preferred material is highly effective at motivating and reinforcing children with autism to participate in activities which they otherwise would not engage in. For example, use of preferred materials has been found to increase behaviors such as verbal requests (Dyer 1989) and may also contribute to increases in social interactions (McGee, Almeida, Sulzer-Azaroff, & Feldman, 1992; Shafer, Egel, & Neef, 1984).

Another reason why the present study may have been effective is that it took advantage of the children's isolated areas of skills. Isolated skills are common among children with autism, and may include abilities such as working mathematical calculations, photographic-like memory, musical talent, and reading or language skills (Kanner, 1943; Wing, 1978). Knize and Charlop (1992) conducted a study which incorporated the isolated skills of a nonverbal boy with autism into teaching him a receptive labeling task. Indeed, the incorporation of special areas of interest and/or ability into educational tasks has been found to have a positive effect on learning for children with autism, increasing motivation (e.g., Baker & Milner, 1985; Dyer, 1989; Ives, Harris, & Wolchik, 1978) and decreasing inappropriate behaviors (Charlop-Christy & Haymes, in press).

The results of this study are consistent with the findings of past research. The boys who participated in the present study were competent readers and displayed a preoccupation with words and letters; preoccupations being a typical characteristic of autism. Cameron engaged in self- stimulatory behavior by writing letters in the air; Jonah repeatedly requested to read specific books; Brandon worked for specific letters as tokens. The children appeared motivated to read the cue cards, and learning may have been reinforced by the cue cards themselves. Thus, the use of written cue cards allowed us to tap into these boys' reading abilities, as well as their interest in and preoccupation with words and letters, to help them gain conversational speech skills. Importantly, the task of learning conversational skills was made interesting, fun, and motivating for the boys.

This cue card program was demonstrated to be a quick and effective tool for teaching conversational speech. Speech is a skill which is typically difficult for children with autism to learn, and a behavior, once learned, not always used (i.e., speak only when spoken to, respond with as brief a phrase as possible). It is possible that rapid acquisition was seen with this program because while the children were less competent speakers, they were skilled readers (isolated area of ability) and reading was a preferred activity. Therefore, motivation was increased with this program, in accord with previous research which has shown an increase in motivation with preferred activities and preoccupations (e.g., Baker & Wrier, 1985; Charlop-Christy & Haymes, in press; Dyer, 1989; Ives et al., 1978). The present study provides a procedure that uses to advantage such common traits of children with autism to teach a difficult-to-acquire behavior.

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Appendix

 Jonah

Conversation A Experimenter: Do you like to watch
 T.V.?
 Child: Yes. Do you like to watch
 T.V.?
 Experimenter: Yes. What's your
 favorite show?
 Child: Power Rangers. What show do
 you like?
 Experimenter: Cheers. Do you watch
 videos?
 Child: Yes. Can we watch a video?
 Experimenter: Sure!
Conversation B Experimenter: Do you like to play
 games?
 Child: Yes. Do you like games?
 Experimenter: Yes. What's your
 favorite game?
 Child: Mr. Mouth. What game do you
 like?
 Experimenter: Candy Land. Are you
 good at playing games?
 Child: Yes. Can we play together?
 Experimenter: Sure!
Conversation C Experimenter: What did you do today?
 Child: I went to school. What did
 you do today?
 Experimenter: I went to school,
 too. What did you do at school?
 Child: I did spelling. What's your
 favorite subject?
 Experimenter: I like reading. What
 else did you do at school?
 Child: I played ball at recess. Do
 you like to play ball?
 Experimenter: Yes!
Experimenter Initiations (Topic Probes)
Conversation A' Experimenter: Do you like to watch
 videos?
Conversation B' Experimenter: Do you like to draw
Conversation C' Experimenter: What did you do last
 night?

Brandon

Conversation A Experimenter: Do you like to watch
 T.V.?
 Child: Yes. Do you like to Watch
 T.V.?
 Experimenter: Yes. What's your
 favorite show?
 Child: Wheel of Fortune. What show
 do you like?
 Experimenter: Cheers. Do you watch
 videos?
 Experimenter: Sure!
Conversation B Experimenter: What did you do
 today?
 Child: I went to school. What did
 you do today?
 Experimenter: I went to school,
 too. What did you do at school?
 Child: I did spelling. What's your
 favorit subject?
 Experimenter: I like reading. What
 else did you do at school?
 Child: I played ball at recess. Do
 you like to play ball?
 Experimenter: Yes!
Conversation C Experimenter: What's your favorite
 food?
 Child: Bologna sandwiches. What's
 your favorite food?
 Experimenter: Pizza. Do you like
 pizza?
 Child: Yes. What do you like on
 your pizza?
 Experimenter: Pepperoni. What's
 your favorite dessert?
 Child: Ice cream. What's yours?
 Experimenter: I like ice cream,
 too!
Experimenter Initiations (Topic Probes)
Conversation A' Experimenter: Do you like to watch
 videos?
Conversation B' Experimenter: What did you do last
 night?
Conversation C' Experimenter: What's your favorite
 restaurant?

Cameron

Conversation A Experimenter: Do you like to draw?
 Child: Yes. Do you like to draw?
 Experimenter: Yes. What's your
 favorite color
 Child: Red. What color do you like?
 Experimenter: Green. Are you a good
 drawer?
 Child: Yes. Can we draw together?
 Experimenter: Sure!
Conversation B Experimenter: Do you like to watch
 T.V.?
 Child: Yes. Do you like to watch
 T.V.?
 Experimenter: Yes. What's your
 favorite show?
 Child: Aladdin. What show do you
 like?
 Experimenter: Cheers. Do you watch
 videos?
 Child: Yes. Can we watch a video?
 Experimenter: Sure!
Conversation C Experimenter: What's your favorite
 food?
 Child: I like tacos. What's your
 favorite food?
 Experimenter: Pizza. Do you like
 pizza?
 Child: Yes. What do you like on your
 pizza?
 Experimenter: Pepperoni. What's
 your favorite dessert?
 Child: Ice cream. What's yours?
Experimenter: I like ice cream, too!
Experimenter Initiations (Topic
 Probes)
Conversation A' Experimenter: Do you like to play
 games?
Conversation B' Experimenter: Do you like to watch
 videos?
Conversation C' Experimenter: What's your favorite
 restaurant?


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Authors, Note: Marjorie H. Charlop-Christy, Department of Psychology; Susan B. Kelso, Center for Organizational and Behavioral Studies.

This study is a thesis submitted by the second author to Claremont Graduate School in partial fulfillment for a Master of Arts degree in Psychology The authors thank the children and parents for their participation, and Leslie Allen and Jack Mansperger for their assistance in data collection.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Marjorie H. Charlop-Christy, Department of Psychology Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California 91711.
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Author:Charlop-Christy, Marjorie H.; Kelso, Susan E.
Publication:Education & Treatment of Children
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2003
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