The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 19–29 | Cite as

A functional analysis of verbal delay in preschool children: Implications for prevention and total recovery

  • Philip W. Drash
  • Roger M. Tudor


Delays in acquiring age-appropriate verbal repertoires in preschool children with no known organic etiology may be explained by defective or absent behavior-environmental contingencies. This paper presents six possible behavioral paradigms that describe verbal episodes between parents and their preschool children and how these interactions may inhibit or prevent the acquisition of verbal behavior. These paradigms are contrasted with parent-child interactions that typically result in age-appropriate verbal repertoires. Identifying the reinforcement contingencies that produce delays in acquisition of verbal behavior could lead to the development of more effective behavioral programs for remediating nonorganic language delay. Recommendations for prevention, treatment and total recovery from functional verbal delay and associated mental retardation are presented. The relation between contingency-shaped and rule-governed behavior in the shaping of verbal behavior is discussed.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Azrin, N. (1993). Discussant’s comments on J. Gewirtz (1993). Infant protests: Protests during maternal departures and during separations from mothers as a conditioned discriminative operant. In Proceedings of the 13th Annual Convention of the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis (p. 105). Fort Lauderdale, FL.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, W. J. (1994). The index of leading cultural indicators: Facts and figures on the state of American society. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  3. Bijou, S. W., & Baer, D. M. (1965) Child development, Vol. 2: Universal stage of infancy. New York : Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  4. Bijou, S. W. (1983). The prevention of mild and moderate retarded development. In F. J. Menolascino, R. Neman, & J. A. Stark (Eds.), Curative aspects of mental retardation: Biomedical and behavioral advances (pp. 223–241). Baltimore: Brookes.Google Scholar
  5. Bijou, S. W. (1993). Behavior analysis of child development. Reno: Context Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bruner, J. (1983). Child’s talk: Learning to use language. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  7. Drash, P. W. (1982). Increasing intelligence and speech in Down syndrome infants: A three to five year follow-up. Down’s Syndrome, 5, 2–3.Google Scholar
  8. Drash, P. W (1992a) The failure of prevention, or our failure to implement prevention knowledge? Mental Retardation, 30, 93–96.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Drash, P. W. (1992b). Total recovery from functional (non neurological) mental retardation in preschool children through behavioral language training. Florida Association for Behavior Analysis Newsletter, 12, 6.Google Scholar
  10. Drash, P. W., & Leibowitz, J. M. (1973). Operant conditioning of speech and language in the non-verbal retarded child: Recent advances. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 20, 233–243.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Drash, P. W., & Raver, S. A. (1987). Total habilitacion: A concept whose time has come-reactions to four responses. Mental Retardation, 25, 87–89.Google Scholar
  12. Drash, P. W., Raver, S. A., & Murrin, M. R. (1987). Total habilitation as a major goal of intervention in mental retardation. Mental Retardation, 25, 67–69.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Drash, P. W., Raver, S. A., Murrin, M. R., & Tudor, R. M. (1989). Three procedures for increasing vocal response to therapist prompt in infants and children with Down syndrome. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 94, 64–73.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Drash, P. W., & Tudor, R. M. (1989). Cognitive development therapy: A new model for treatment of an overlooked population, developmentally delayed preschool children. Psychotherapy in Private Practice, 7, 19–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Drash, P. W., & Tudor, R. M. (1990). Language and cognitive development: A systematic behavioral program and technology for increasing the language and cognitive skills of developmentally disabled and at-risk preschool children. In M. Hersen, R. M. Eisler, & P. M. Miller (Eds.), Progress in behavior modification (Vol. 26, pp. 173–220). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Drash, P. W., & Tudor, R. M. (1991). A standard methodology for the analysis, recording, and control of verbal behavior. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 9, 49–60.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Eshleman, J. W., & Vargas, E. A. (1988). Promoting the behaviorological analysis of verbal behavior. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 6, 23–32.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Gewirtz, J. (1993). Infant protests: Protests during maternal departures and during separations from mothers as a conditioned discriminative operant. In Proceedings of the 13th Annual Convention of the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis (p. 104). Fort Lauderdale, FL.Google Scholar
  19. Glenn, S. S. (1993). Windows on the 21st century. The Behavior Analyst, 16, 133–151.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Lovaas, O. I. (1987). Behavioral treatment and normal educational and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 3–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. MacDonald, J. D. (1985). Language through conversation: A model for intervention with language-delayed persons. In S. F. Warren, & A. K. Rogers-Warren (Eds.), Teaching functional language: Generalization and maintenance of language skills (pp. 89–122). Austin: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  22. Menolascino, F. J., & Stark, J. A. (1988). Future prospects for curing mental retardation. In F. J. Menolascino, & J. A. Stark (Eds.), Preventative and curative intervention in mental retardation (pp. 373–377). Baltimore: Brookes.Google Scholar
  23. Michael, J. (1982). Distinguishing between discriminative and motivational functions of stimuli. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 37, 149–155.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Michael, J. (1988). Establishing operations and the mand. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 6, 3–9.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Michael, J. (1993). Establishing operations. The Behavior Analyst, 16, 191–206.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Odom, S. L., & Karnes, M. B. (Eds.). (1988). Early intervention for infants and children with handicaps: An empirical base. Baltimore: Brooks.Google Scholar
  27. Owens, R. E. (1984). Language development: An introduction. Columbus, OH: Merrill.Google Scholar
  28. Ramey, C. T., MacPhee, D., & Yeats, K. O. (1982). Preventing developmental retardation: A general systems model. In D. K. Detterman, & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), How and how much can intelligence be increased? (pp. 67–119). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  29. Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. New York: Prentice-Hall.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Skinner, B. F. (1969). Contingencies of reinforcement. New York: Meredith.Google Scholar
  31. Sundberg, M. L. (1993). The application of establishing operations. The Behavior Analyst, 16, 211–214.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Yarrow, L. J. (1961). Maternal deprivation: Toward an empirical and conceptual re-evaluation. Psychological Bulletin, 58, 459–490.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip W. Drash
    • 1
  • Roger M. Tudor
    • 2
  1. 1.Intellectual Development InternationalTampaUSA
  2. 2.Westfield State CollegeUSA

Personalised recommendations