Contriving Establishing Operations to Teach Mands for Information
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Many children with autism cannot effectively ask wh- questions to mand for information, even though they may have extensive tact, intraverbal, and receptive language skills. Wh-questions are typically mands because they occur under the control of establishing operations (EOs) and result in specific reinforcement. The current study first investigated a procedure to teach the mand “where?” to children with autism by contriving an EO for the location of a missing item. Following the successful acquisition of this mand, an establishing operation for a specific person was contrived to teach the mand “who?” The results showed that the children acquired these mands when the relevant establishing operations were manipulated as independent variables. The children also demonstrated generalization to untrained items and to the natural environment. These results have implications for methods of language instruction for children who have difficulty acquiring mands for information.
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