, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 187-200

A natural language teaching paradigm for nonverbal autistic children

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The purpose of this study was to attempt to improve verbal language acquisition for nonverbal autistic children by manipulating traditional teaching techniques so they incorporated parameters of natural language interactions and motivational techniques. Within a multiple baseline design, treatment was conducted in a baseline condition with trials presented serially in a traditional analogue clinical format where the therapist presented instructions, prompts, and reinforcers for correct responses. Then, these variables were manipulated in the natural language teaching condition such that (a) stimulus items were functional and varied, (b) natural reinforcers were employed, (c) communicative attempts were also reinforced, and (d) trials were conducted within a natural interchange. Treatment and generalization data demonstrated that manipulation of these variables resulted in broadly generalized treatment gains. Implications for language intervention are discussed.
This Investigation was supported by U.S. Public Health Service Research Grants MH 28210 and MH 28231 from the National Institute of Mental Health, by U.S. Department of Education, Contract No. 300-82-036, and by Biomedical Research Support Grant RR07099-17 from the National Institute of Health. However, the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of any of the above-mentioned agencies. The authors would like to express appreciation to Jean Bramer, Karen Kozloff, Sue Risi, Ilene Schwartz, Connie Wehara, and Mary Zimmer for assisting in the clinical treatment, data collection, and conceptual input during this research.