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THE EMERGENCE OF UNTRAINED MANDS AND TACTS IN CHILDREN WITH AUTISM

Authors


  • This study is based on a thesis submitted to the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the MS degree in applied behavior analysis.

Address correspondence to Caio Miguel, Department of Psychology, California State University, Sacramento, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, California 95819 (e-mail: miguelc@csus.edu).

Abstract

Despite Skinner's (1957) assertion that verbal operants are initially functionally independent, recent studies have suggested that in some cases the acquisition of one verbal operant (e.g., mand) gives rise to the other (e.g., tact) without explicit training. The present study aimed to evaluate the functional independence of mands and tacts during instruction with children with autism. Four boys with autism (3 to 6 years old) were taught to construct two 4-piece structures. Two participants were taught directly to mand, whereas the other 2 were taught to tact the names of the pieces. The effects of training were evaluated in a multiple probe design across verbal operants and tasks. Three of the 4 participants demonstrated an immediate transfer of control from 1 verbal operant to the other. These results were consistent with previous research with typically developing young children.

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