International Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Part of the series Autism and Child Psychopathology Series pp 367-379


Verbal Behavior and Communication Training

  • Thomas S. HigbeeAffiliated withDepartment of Special Education and Rehabilitation, Utah State University Email author 
  • , Tyra P. SellersAffiliated withDepartment of Special Education and Rehabilitation, Utah State University

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Communication deficits are a defining characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Thus, it is not surprising that improving communication skills is the primary focus of virtually all early intervention programs for children with ASD. Many of the most effective teaching strategies for building language come from the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) (see Matson, Benavidez, Compton, Paclawskyj, & Baglio, 1996 for a review). ABA-based intervention programs typically use well-established behavior-analytic teaching/intervention techniques such as positive reinforcement, shaping, prompting/prompt fading, chaining, extinction, imitation, modeling, and other behavioral procedures to teach communicative behavior to children with ASD.