Advertisement

Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluation of ABA Content on IQ Gains in Children with Autism

  • Mark R. DixonEmail author
  • Dana Paliliunas
  • Becky F. Barron
  • Ayla M. Schmick
  • Caleb R. Stanley
Original Paper

Abstract

The present study examined the content of applied behavior analytic therapy (ABA therapy) on skill acquisition and intelligence test scores of twenty-eight children with autism and related disabilities. Using a randomized controlled trial, we compared (a) traditional ABA consisting of verbal behavior techniques developed by Skinner (Verbal behavior, Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York, 1957), (b) comprehensive ABA which added techniques post-Skinner’s theory of language, and (c) waitlist control. Results obtained indicated that even though skill acquisition improved equally across both intervention groups compared to the control, highest intelligence score changes were shown for participants in the comprehensive ABA group (F: 2, 24 = 9.198, p = 0.001). With increasing emphasis on client outcomes, the present data suggest that when hours of intervention are kept constant, ABA service providers may be at an advantage by incorporating techniques that are typically considered beyond the traditional ABA ideas of Skinner’s account of language development.

Keywords

Language acquisition Relational frame theory Verbal behavior therapy PEAK 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

First author receives small royalties from sales of the PEAK curriculum. Remaining authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent and assent were obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

References

  1. Alessi, G. (1987). Generative strategies and teaching for generalization. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior,5, 15–27.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Arntzen, E., & Almas, I. K. (2002). Effects of mand-tact versus tact-only training on the acquisition of tacts. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,35, 419–422.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Baer, R. A., & Detrich, R. (1990). Tacting and manding in correspondence training: Effects of child selection on verbalization. Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior,54, 23–30.Google Scholar
  4. Baio, J., Wiggins, L., Christensen, D. L., Maenner, M. J., Daniels, J., Warren, Z., et al. (2018). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years—Autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 sites, United States, 2014. Surveillance Summaries,67, 1–23.  https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6706a1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnes, D. (1994). Stimulus equivalence and relational frame theory. The Psychological Record,44, 91–124.Google Scholar
  6. Barnes-Holmes, Y., Kavanagh, D., & Murphy, C. (2016). Relational frame theory: Implications for education and developmental disabilities. In R. D. Zettle, S. C. Hayes, D. Barnes-Holmes, & A. Biglan (Eds.), Wiley handbook of contextual behavioral science (1st ed., pp. 227–253). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Belisle, J., Dixon, M. R., Stanley, C. R., Munoz, B., & Daar, J. H. (2016). Teaching foundational perspective-taking skills to children with autism using the PEAK-T curriculum: Single-reversal “I-You” deictic frames. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,49(4), 965–969.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bourret, J., Vollmer, T. R., & Rapp, J. T. (2004). Evaluation of vocal mand assessment and vocal mand training procedures. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,37, 129–144.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Carr, D., Wilkinson, K. M., Blackman, D., & McIlvane, W. J. (2000). Equivalence classes in individuals with minimal verbal repertoires. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior,74, 101–115.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Cassidy, S., Roche, B., Colbert, D., Stewart, I., & Grey, I. M. (2016). A relational frame skills training intervention to increase general intelligence and scholastic aptitude. Learning and Individual Differences,47, 222–235.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2016.03.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cassidy, S., Roche, B., & Hayes, S. C. (2011). A relational frame training intervention to raise intelligence quotients: A pilot study. The Psychological Record,61, 173–198.Google Scholar
  12. Cassidy, S., Roche, B., & O’Hora, D. (2010). Relational frame theory and human intelligence. European Journal of Behavior Analysis,11(1), 37–51.Google Scholar
  13. Cohen, H., Amerine-Dickens, M., & Smith, T. (2006). Early intensive behavioral treatment: Replication of the UCLA model in a community setting. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics,27(2), 145–155.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. New York, NY: Routledge Academic.Google Scholar
  15. Colbert, D., Dobutowitsch, M., Roche, B., & Brophy, C. (2017). The proxy-measurement of intelligence quotients using relational skills abilities index. Learning and Individual Differences,57, 114–122.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2017.03.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Colbert, D., Tyndall, I., Roche, B., & Cassidy, S. (2018). Can SMART training really increase intelligence? A replication study. Journal of Behavioral Education,27(1), 509–531.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10864-018-9302-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dawson, G. (2011). Behavioral interventions in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: A review of recent findings. Current Opinion in Pediatrics,23, 616–620.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Dawson, G., Rogers, S., Munson, J., Smith, M., Winter, J., Greenson, J., et al. (2010). Randomized, controlled trial of an intervention of toddlers with autism: The Early Start Denver Model. Pediatrics,125(1), 17–23.  https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2009-0958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dixon, M. R. (2014a). PEAK relational training system—Direct training module. Carbondale, IL: Shawnee Scientific Press.Google Scholar
  20. Dixon, M. R. (2014b). PEAK relational training system—Generalization module. Carbondale, IL: Shawnee Scientific Press.Google Scholar
  21. Dixon, M. R. (2015). PEAK relational training system—Equivalence module. Carbondale, IL: Shawnee Scientific Press.Google Scholar
  22. Dixon, M. R. (2016). PEAK relational training system—Transformation module. Carbondale, IL: Shawnee Scientific Press.Google Scholar
  23. Dixon, M. R., Belisle, J., Munoz, B. E., Stanley, C. R., & Rowsey, K. (2017). Teaching metaphorical extensions of private events through rival-model observation to children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,50(4), 744–749.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Dixon, M. R., Belisle, J., Stanley, C. R., Rowsey, K. E., Daar, J. H., & Szekely, S. (2015). Toward a behavior analysis of complex language for children with autism: Evaluating the relationship between PEAK and the VB-MAPP. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities,27(2), 223–233.Google Scholar
  25. Dixon, M. R., Belisle, J., Stanley, C. R., Speelman, R. C., Rowsey, K. E., Kime, D., et al. (2016). Establishing derived categorical responding in children with disabilities using the PEAK-E curriculum. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,50(1), 134–145.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Dixon, M. R., Whiting, S., Rowsey, K. E., & Belisle, J. (2014). Assessing the relationship between intelligence and the PEAK relational training system. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders,8(9), 1208–1213.Google Scholar
  27. Dymond, S., & Alonso-Alvarez, B. (2010). The selective impact of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior on empirical research: A reply to Schlinger (2008). The Psychological Record,60, 355–360.Google Scholar
  28. Dymond, S., & Rehfeldt, R. A. (2000). Understanding complex behavior: The transformation of stimulus function. The Behavior Analyst,23(2), 239–254.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Eikeseth, S., Smith, T., Jahr, E., & Eldevik, S. (2002). Intensive behavioral treatment at school for 4- to 7-year-old children with autism. A 1-year comparison controlled study. Behavioral Modification,26(1), 49–68.Google Scholar
  30. Eikeseth, S., Smith, T., Jahr, E., & Eldevik, S. (2007). Outcome for children with autism who began intensive behavioral treatment between ages 4 and 7: A comparison controlled study. Behavior Modification,31(3), 264–278.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Giofre, D., Borella, E., & Mammarella, I. C. (2017). The relationship between intelligence, working memory, academic self-esteem, and academic achievement. Journal of Cognitive Psychology,29, 731–747.  https://doi.org/10.1080/20445911.2017.1310110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gresham, F. M., & Witt, J. C. (1997). Utility of intelligence tests for treatment planning, classification, and placement decisions: Recent empirical findings and future directions. School Psychology Quarterly,12(3), 249–267.  https://doi.org/10.1037/h0088961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hayes, J., & Stewart, I. (2016). Comparing the effects of derived relational training and computer coding on intellectual potential in school-age children. British Journal of Educational Psychology,86(3), 397–411.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Hayes, S. C. (2018). ACT randomized controlled trials since 1986. Retrieved May 10, 2019, from https://contextualscience.org/ACT_Randomized_Controlled_Trials.
  35. Hayes, S. C., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Roche, B. (2001). Relational frame theory: A post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  36. Healy, O., Barnes‐Holmes, D., & Smeets, P. M. (2000). Derived relational responding as generalized operant behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 74(2), 207–227.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Keith, T. Z., Fehrmann, P., Harrison, P. L., & Pottebaum, S. M. (1987). The relation between adaptive behavior and intelligence: Testing alternative explanations. Journal of School Psychology,25(1), 31–43.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-4405(87)90058-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Landa, R. J., & Kalb, L. G. (2012). Long-term outcomes of toddlers with autism spectrum disorder exposure to short-term intervention. Pediatrics,130, 186.Google Scholar
  39. Lovaas, O. (1987). Behavioral treatment and normal educational and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,55(1), 3–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. McEachin, J. J., Smith, T., & Lovaas, O. (1993). Long-term outcome for children with autism who received early intensive behavioral treatment. American Journal of Mental Retardation,97(4), 359–372.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. McKeel, A., & Matas, J. (2017). Utilizing PEAK relational training system to teach visual, gustatory, and auditory relations to adults with developmental disabilities. Behavior Analysis in Practice,10(3), 252–260.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. McKeel, A. N., Dixon, M. R., Daar, J. H., Rowsey, K. E., & Szekely, S. (2015). Evaluating the efficacy of the PEAK relational training system using a randomized controlled trial of children with autism. Journal of Behavioral Education,24(2), 230–241.Google Scholar
  43. Meyers, C. E., Nihira, K., & Zetlin, A. (1979). The measurement of adaptive behavior. In N. R. Ellis (Ed.), Handbook of mental deficiency: Psychological theory and research (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  44. Mullen, S., Dixon, M. R., Belisle, J., & Stanley, C. R. (2017). Establishing auditory-tactile-visual equivalence classes in children with autism and developmental delays. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior,33(2), 283–289.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  45. Murphy, C., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Barnes-Holmes, Y. (2005). Derived manding in children with autism: Synthesizing Skinner’s verbal behavior with relational frame theory. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,38(4), 445–462.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  46. O’Hora, D., Palaez, M., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2005). Derived relational responding and performance on verbal sub-tests of the WAIS-III. The Psychological Record,55, 155–175.Google Scholar
  47. O’Hora, D., Palaez, M., Barnes-Holmes, D., Rae, G., Robinson, K., & Chaudary, T. (2008). Temporal relations and intelligence: Correlating relational performance and performance on the WAIS-III. The Psychological Record,58, 569–584.Google Scholar
  48. O’Toole, C., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2009). Three chronometric indices of relational responding as predictors of performance on a brief intelligence test: The importance of relational flexibility. The Psychological Record,59, 119–132.Google Scholar
  49. Rehfeldt, R., Dillen, J. E., Ziomek, M. M., & Kowalchuk, R. K. (2007). Assessing relational learning deficits in perspective-taking in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorder. The Psychological Record,57, 23–47.Google Scholar
  50. Rehfeldt, R. A., & Root, S. L. (2005). Establishing derived requesting skills in adults with severe developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,38, 101–105.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  51. Reichow, B., & Wolery, M. (2009). Comprehensive synthesis of early intensive behavioral interventions for young children with autism based on the UCLA young autism project model. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders,39(1), 23–41.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Roane, H. S., Fisher, W. W., & Carr, J. E. (2016). Applied behavior analysis as treatment for autism spectrum disorder. The Journal of Pediatrics,175, 27–32.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Rosales, R., & Rehfeldt, R. A. (2007). Contriving transitive conditioned establishing operations to establish derived manding skills in adults with severe developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,40(1), 105–121.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  54. Rowsey, K. E., Belisle, J., & Dixon, M. R. (2015). Principal component analysis of the PEAK relational training system. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 27(1), 15–23.Google Scholar
  55. Rowsey, K. E., Belisle, J., Stanley, C. R., Daar, J. H., & Dixon, M. R. (2017). Principal component analysis of the PEAK Generalization Module. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 29(3), 489–501.Google Scholar
  56. Sallows, G. O., & Graupner, T. D. (2005). Intensive behavioral treatment for children with autism: Four-year outcome and predictors. American Journal on Mental Retardation,110(6), 417–438.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Sattler, J. M., Dumont, R., & Coalson, D. L. (2016). Assessment of children: WISC-V and WPPSI-IV. San Diego: Jerome M. Sattler, Publisher.Google Scholar
  58. Sautter, R. A., & LeBlanc, L. A. (2006). Empirical applications of Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior with humans. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior,22, 35–48.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  59. Schriebman, L. (2000). Intensive behavioral/psychoeducational treatments for autism: Research needs and future directions. Journal of Autism and Hearing Research,14, 5–13.Google Scholar
  60. Sigafoos, J., Doss, S., & Reichle, J. (1989). Developing mand and tat repertoires in persons with severe developmental disabilities using graphic symbols. Research in Developmental Disabilities,10, 183–200.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  62. Smith, T., Eikeseth, S., Klevstrand, M., & Lovaas, O. I. (1997). Intensive behavioral treatment for preschoolers with severe mental retardation and pervasive developmental disorder. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 102(3), 238–249.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Sternberg, R. J. (1997). The concept of intelligence and its role in lifelong learning and success. American Psychologist,52(10), 1030–1037.Google Scholar
  64. Sturmey, P. (2002). Mental retardation and concurrent psychiatric disorder: Assessment and treatment. Current Opinion in Psychiatry,15, 489–495.Google Scholar
  65. Weschler, D. (2012). Weschler preschool and primary scale of intelligence (4th ed.). San Antonio, TX: Pearson.Google Scholar
  66. Weschler, D. (2014). Weschler intelligence scale for children (5th ed.). San Antonio, TX: Pearson.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark R. Dixon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dana Paliliunas
    • 1
  • Becky F. Barron
    • 1
  • Ayla M. Schmick
    • 1
  • Caleb R. Stanley
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavior Analysis and Therapy ProgramSouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA

Personalised recommendations