The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 43–58 | Cite as

Evaluating Stimulus-Stimulus Pairing and Direct Reinforcement in the Establishment of an Echoic Repertoire of Children Diagnosed with Autism

  • Barbara E. Esch
  • James E. Carr
  • Jack Michael


Many children with autism do not imitate adult vocalizations, an important skill in learning to talk. Pairing adult vocalizations with preferred stimuli has been shown to increase free-operant vocalizations but effects are temporary; thus, direct reinforcement may be necessary to establish durable vocal behaviors. In Experiment 1, directly reinforced echoic responses did not increase following stimulus-stimulus pairings in three children with autism. Similarly, pairings did not increase free-operant vocalizations in Experiment 2, a replication of Miguel et al. (2002). Experiment 3 demonstrated that shaping increased vowel frequency for one participant. Results suggest that variables are yet to be delineated that influence effectiveness of a stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure on vocalization frequency and acquisition of a verbal operant following such pairings.

Key words

stimulus-stimulus pairing automatic reinforcement verbal behavior autism speech training 


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara E. Esch
    • 1
  • James E. Carr
    • 1
  • Jack Michael
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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