Evidence-Based Strategies to Address
Deficient Repertoires in Young
Children with Autism
Coyne & Associates
Educational Corporation
ABAI Phoenix 2009
Facilitation of an Echoic
Christine Dausch Essex, SLP
Sally D. Moore, MA BCBA
Len Levin, PhD
Nicola Bogie, MA
Celia Newkirk, MA
 A primary goal for children with Autism receiving EIBI is
to establish a system of communication
 EIBI curricula emphasize development of listener and
speaker repertoires (i.e. following instructions,
identification, manding, tacting, etc.)
 Included in EIBI curricula is a “standard” method for
establishing an echoic repertoire
 Reinforce spontaneous vocalizations
 Gain stimulus control over vocalizations via Vocal Imitation
or mand training
 Shape approximations
Introduction Continued
 Some alternative methods have been utilized to try and
establish an echoic repertoire when “standard” methods
are unsuccessful
 What happens when attempts to establish an echoic
repertoire are unsuccessful
 Program focus is shifted to non-vocal modalities of
communication (eg. PECS)
 Referrals are made to other providers (Speech-Language
Introduction Continued
 Due to the nature of vocal targets, it is often impossible
to directly evoke the correct response following the
delivery of the SD
 Traditional prompting and prompt fading techniques are
not applicable to most vocal responses
There is little empirical literature addressing how to proceed
with children who display severely deficient to no vocal
 Behavior Analysts are trained HOW to teach by utilizing
the 3 term contingency: S->R->S
 Speech-Language Pathologists are trained WHAT to
teach (i.e. developmental sequence of phonemes,
speech/oral motor development).
Collaboration Continued
 This collaborative model relies equally on the principles
of Behavior Analysis and behavior change and the
science of speech/oral motor development
 In our opinion, the protocols and procedures cultivated
from this model could not have been developed by
behavior analysts or speech-language pathologists
working individually
Characteristics of Participants
 Limited babbling/spontaneous vocalizations
 No obvious difficulty with non-vocal imitation
 Lack of progress with vocal imitation targets
 Utilizing PECS as primary mode of communication
 Diagnosis of autism
 Ages 2-3
Method-Participant 1
Oral Motor Imitation with Objects
Vocal Imitation/Echoics
Echoic to Mands
Oral Motor Imitation with Objects
 Introduced targets that would act as a bridge to
production of specific phonemes
 Example: Wipe mouth with washcloth-bridge to /m/
 Target List 1
Blow train whistle
Wipe mouth with washcloth
Blow harmonica
Lick lollipop
Raspberry Lips
Oral Motor Imitation with Objects
 Target List 2
Blow train whistle  /h/
Wipe mouth with washcloth  /m/
Chant  /a/
Blow harmonica  /h/
Lick lollipop tongue control
Raspberry Lips  /p/ and /b/
 Teaching steps
 Targets were introduced in groups of 2-3
 Each target was presented in block trials of 5
 Mastery Criterion-90% over 2 days, 80% over 3 days
Vocal Imitation
 Sounds targeted through Oral Motor Imitation with
objects were introduced in vocal imitation in block
trials of 5
 Anecdotally, the OMI program increased visual regard
for the Interventionist’s mouth when modeling vocal
Imitation targets
 Additional targets were introduced that were not
specifically targeted through the OMI program
Echoic to Mand
 Mastered vocal Imitation targets were introduced as
manding targets
 3 targets were introduced simultaneously
 Format as in Greer & Ross 2008
Method-Participant 2
Fine Discrimination with Non Vocal Imitation
Vocal Imitation
Echoic to Mands & Tacts
Non Vocal Imitation
 Previously taught targets were re-taught requiring a
response that more accurately mimics the SD
 A variety of new gross motor & action with objects
targets were introduced incorporating finer
 Teaching Steps
 Imitation targets were introduced 1 or 2 at a time
 Errorless -> Error Correction
 Mastery Criterion-90% over 2 days, 80% over 3 days
 Increasing accuracy with less complex behavior chains
(i.e. non-vocal imitation) would lead to the acquisition
of imitation with complex behavior chains (i.e. vocal
Vocal Imitation
 Vocal imitation targets were reintroduced after several
targets were mastered in the revised NVI
 Targets were selected based on a developmental
sequence of phoneme acquisition
 Teaching Steps
 Target sounds were presented in block trials of 5
 Each target sound was presented between 25- 50 trials per
 Mastery Criterion-90% over 2 days or 80% over 3 days
 Mastered targets were presented in random rotation
Echoic to Mands & Tacts
 After mastery was achieved with various vowel and
consonant vowel combinations in vocal imitation,
targets were shifted to functional language
 Mand and Tact targets were introduced in the Echoic to
Mand/Echoic to Tact format as described by Greer &
Mastered Targets to Date
 Mands
 Tacts
 We made the Discriminative Stimulus more salient via
the use of objects and minor discriminations with motor
 Participant 1-through pairing actions with objects with
vocal targets
 Participant 2-through fine discrimination with non-vocal
imitation targets
 Ongoing collaboration led to better and better
refinements of the procedures
 Within the procedures continual problem solving was
 When acquisition was not present sometimes it was a
teaching issue and sometimes it was a speech issue
Discussion Continued
 Future Directions
 Collect experimental data to support our hypothesis
 Establish a “profile” to determine which procedure will be
most effective with which children

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