Chapter 2. Facilitating emergent verbal repertoires in individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders

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Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the science that underpins several evidence-based interventions currently undertaken with individuals with autism. With its grounding in learning theory, ABA has traditionally approached language instruction via the systematic application of operant conditioning principles (e.g. reinforcement, shaping, generalisation). However, recent advances in a research domain known as derived relational responding indicates that important language skills involving arbitrary stimulus relations may emerge in the absence of a direct training history. Available evidence suggests that the application of these procedures may enhance existing methods of teaching language skills to children with autism and other developmental disorders. The present article reviews the current status of the literature on facilitating emergent communication by relational responding. Studies involving procedures that have facilitated emergent verbal repertoires in individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities are described and evaluated, and further research challenges are discussed.


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