Teaching Conversational Skills to Children with Autism John L. Brown, Ph.D., BCBA Jennifer Ryan Eric Rozenblat REED Academy
Script Fading • Script fading is an empirically validated procedure used to teach individuals to verbally engage in social interactions.
Script Fading • Script fading teaches learners to use written or audio scripts. • Scripts provide models of language that are appropriate to specific social situations. • As learners learn to use the scripts they are faded from end to beginning.
Example • A script such as “Let’s go to the park.” could be faded in the following steps • Let’s go to the park. • Let’s go to the • Let’s go to • Let’s go • Let’s • Removal of script card.
Fading • Fading is a technique that is used to shift control of a response from one antecedent stimulus to another. (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 1987, p. 314) • In the case of script fading, control of a verbal response is being shifted from the control of the script to some other environmental stimulus.
Why Use Script Fading? • To teach “spontaneous” social interaction. • To reduce the use of instructor prompts in teaching social interaction. • Why reduce instructor prompts?
Types of Scripts • Written Scripts • Language Master Cards • “Mini Me” Recordings
Placement of Scripts • When deciding where to place scripts consider how the learner will use the script. • For example: • A script about a preferred toy could be placed on a picture of that toy. • A script about soda may be placed on the refrigerator door.
Using Script-Fading Procedures • Development of Scripts • Pre-training Scripts • Teaching Script Use • Fading Scripts
Development of Scripts • Use verbal responses that are of appropriate complexity for the learner. • Use age-appropriate content. • Determine the type of script, • Determine the location for the script. • Determine the SD for using the script.
Development of Scripts • If scripts are taught in sets, attend to the initial word of each script. • Include an opening and closing in each script. • When using an augmentive communication system start scripts with a statement that indicates the use of the machine.
Pre-training • Pre-train the use of the script until the learner demonstrates fluency in using the script.
Teaching • Use graduated guidance delivered from behind the learner to prompt use of scripts. • Replay the script if the learner does not imitate the script. • Reinforce correct use of scripts. • Attend to other aspects of social interaction (eye contact, loudness, etc.)
Fading Scripts • Fade from the end to the beginning. • Fade quickly. • Be prepared to back-up if the learner does not imitate the full script.
How to Back-up the Fading Level • Written Script • Have a second card with the full script ready. • Language Master Script • Record the full script on the ‘Teacher’ track. • Mini-Me • Use a second Mini-Me for the full script.
Programming for Generalization • Choose verbal responses that are functional in a variety of situations. • Teach multiple scripts for each SD. • Train Loosely: Accept appropriate statements that do not exactly match the script. • Shift reinforcement to ‘natural’ contingencies.
Examples of Script Fading • Greetings • Peer Conversation • Shopping • Ordering in a Restaurant • Discussing Current Events • Recruiting Attention
Conversation Partner • Purpose • To promote the continuation of a learner- initiated conversation that is socially meaningful • To serve as a language model
Conversation Partner • Effectively teaching conversational skills while being a partner • modeling • attending skills • personal space • prosody • giving your partner time to respond • using continuation statements to prevent premature ending • conversation content must be relevant and language used needs to be appropriate to language level • use textual and audio prompts, and graduated guidance
Conversation Partner • What to Avoid: • descriptive praise • using conversation enders • questions • partial echo's/rephrasing • no verbal prompts
Potential Conversation Partners • Trained adult conversation partner • Untrained adult conversation partner • Disabled peers • Non-disabled peers • Siblings • Family Members • Strangers
Data Collection • Scripted Interactions • Record the number of words or scripts used correctly. • Measure the use of the scripts. • Unscripted Interactions • Record the number of statements made that do not match the script. • Measure the use of other, non-scripted, language.
Motivational Systems • Consider the use of specialized motivational systems that are used exclusively for social interaction. • Consider reserving specific reinforcers for use exclusively for social interaction programs. • Consider using scripts that include language about preferred activities that function as reinforcers • Although not specifically programmed, ending a conversation often functions as a negative reinforcer for children with autism
Empirical Evidence • Script fading for readers • Krantz and McClannahan (1993) used script fading to teach non readers with autism to initiate, respond to initiations, and make unscripted statements during conversations with peers ages 9-12 • Sarokoff, Taylor, & Poulson (2001) used scripts embedded in product packaging to teach conversation among learner’s with autism ages 8-9
Empirical Evidence • Script fading for beginning readers • Children ages 4-5 were taught to read “Look” and “Watch me” • Activity schedules were used to present these words along with photographs of activities to children with autism • Scripted statements, unscripted statements, and elaborations increased
Empirical Evidence • Script fading for non readers • Using audio-taped scripts embedded in activity schedules demonstrated to be effective for learners with autism ages 10-15
Script Fading Exercise • Roll playing using continuation statements • non-vocal conversation • 1-word conversations • 3-word conversations • 5-word conversations • unlimited conversations with 10 exchanges • writing scripts
References Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (1987). Applied Behavior Analysis. Columbus, OH: Merrill Publishing Company. Krantz, P.J., & McClannahan, L.E. (1998). Social interaction skills for children with autism: A script-fading procedure for beginning readers. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 31, 191-202. Krantz, P. J. & McClannahan, L. E. (1993). Teaching children with autism to initiate to peers: Effects of a script-fading procedure. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 26, 121-132.
References Johnson, K. R. & Layng, T. V. J. (1992). Breaking the structuralist barrier: Literacy and numeracy with fluency. American Psychologist, 47, 1475-1490. Stevenson, C.L., Krantz, P.J., & McClannahan, L.E. (2000). Social interaction skills for children with autism: A script-fading procedure for nonreaders. Behavioral Interventions, 15, 1-20. Sarokoff, R.A., Taylor, B.A., & Poulson, C.L. (2001). Teaching children with autism to engage in conversational exchanges: Script-fading with embedded textual stimuli. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 34, 81-84.