Behavior Analysis in Practice

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 252–260 | Cite as

Utilizing PEAK Relational Training System to Teach Visual, Gustatory, and Auditory Relations to Adults with Developmental Disabilities

  • Autumn McKeelEmail author
  • Jaime Matas
Research Article


Two multiple baseline designs were conducted across participants to determine if the promoting the emergence of advanced knowledge (PEAK) equivalence module was an effective tool in teaching adults with autism relationships between stimuli. More specifically, a transitivity program utilizing the gustatory sensory modality was implemented. Stimuli were selected and probed initially preceding the training. First, gustatory stimuli to a visual picture were trained. Then, a visual picture to a spoken word was trained. Finally, once mastery criterion was reached, each participant’s responding was tested to determine whether there were derived relations following training. Results showed that all three participants reached mastery criterion in training sessions and were able to derive new relations without direct training.


Developmental disabilities Group home PEAK-E Verbal behavior 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This study was not funded.

Ethical Approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. 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 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Buescher, A. V., Cidav, Z., Knapp, M., & Mandell, D. S. (2014). Costs of autism spectrum disorders in the United Kingdom and the United States. JAMA Pediatrics, 168(8), 721–728.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (1987). Applied behavior analysis. Columbus: Merrill Pub.Google Scholar
  3. Dixon, M. R. (2015). Promoting the emergence of advanced knowledge relational training system: equivalence module. Carbondale: Shawnee Behavioral Press.Google Scholar
  4. Dixon, M. R., Belisle, J., Stanley, C. R., Daar, J. H., & Williams, L. A. (2016a). Derived equivalence relations of geometry skills in students with autism: an application of the PEAK-E curriculum. Analysis of Verbal Behavior. doi: 10.1007/s40616-016-0051-9.
  5. Dixon, M. R., Belisle, J., Whiting, S. W., & Rowsey, K. E. (2014a). Normative sample of the PEAK relational training system: direct training module and subsequent comparisons to individuals with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8(11), 1597–1606. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.07.020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dixon, M. R., Speelman, R., Rowsey, K., & Belisle, J. (2016b). Derived rule-following and transformations of stimulus functions in a children’s game: an application of PEAK-E with children with developmental disabilities. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 5, 186–192. doi: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2016.05.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dixon, M. R., Whiting, S. W., Rowsey, K., & Belisle, J. (2014b). Assessing the relationship between intelligence and the PEAK relational training system. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8(9), 1208–1213. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.05.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fienup, D. M., & Dixon, M. R. (2006). Acquisition and maintenance of visual-visual and visual-olfactory equivalence classes. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 7, 87–98.Google Scholar
  9. Hayes, L. J., Tilley, K., & Hayes, S. C. (1988). Extending equivalence class membership to gustatory stimuli. The Psychological Record, 38(4), 473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 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. doi: 10.1007/s10864-015-9219-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. National Autism Center: National Standards Project (2015). Retrieved March 9, 2016, from
  12. Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). (2000). Mental health: a report of the surgeon general. Retrieved 16 February 2016 from
  13. O'Neill, M., & Jones, R. S. (1997). Sensory-perceptual abnormalities in autism: a case for more research? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27(3), 283–293. doi: 10.4236/ojpsych.2012.21005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Rehfeldt, R. A. (2011). Toward a technology of derived stimulus relations: an analysis of articles published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1992–2009. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44(1), 109–119. doi: 10.1901/jaba.2011.44-109.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Rose, J. C., Souza, D. G., & Hanna, E. S. (1996). Teaching reading and spelling: exclusion and stimulus equivalence. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 29(4), 451–469. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1996.29-451.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. 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. doi: 10.1007/s10882-014-9398-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sidman, M. (1971). Reading and auditory-visual equivalences. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 14, 5–13. doi: 10.1044/jshr.1401.05.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Sidman, M. (1994). Equivalence relations and behavior: a research story. Boston: Authors Cooperative.Google Scholar
  19. Smith, T. (2001). Discrete trial training in the treatment of autism. Focus on autism and other developmental disabilities, 16(2), 86–92. doi: 10.1177/108835760101600204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Toussaint, K., & Tiger, J. T. (2010). Teaching early braille literacy skills within a stimulus equivalence paradigm to children with degenerative visual impairments. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43, 181–194. doi: 10.1901/jaba.2010.43-181.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aurora UniversityAuroraUSA

Personalised recommendations