James Chok, Ph.D., BCBA-D 

Jon S. Bailey, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Mary Jane Weiss, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Tom Zane, Ph.D., BCBA

Shawn Quigley, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Patrick McGreevy, Ph.D, BCBA-D

Title: Teaching Functional, Life Skills using Essential for Living

Abstract: Dr. McGreevy will describe Essential for Living and how this curriculum-based assessment can be used to teach the Essential Eight Skills — speaking, listening, daily living, and tolerating skills, along functional academic and tool skills, while managing problem behavior. He will also describe the innovative aspects of this instrument, including a systematic method for selecting and testing the effectiveness of an alternative method of speaking for non-verbal learners, pragmatic language skills without grammar and syntax, matching skills that result in responding to text as a listener, the direct and continuous measurement of small increments of learner progress without percent, the building of skill repertoires rather than replacement behaviors, the measurement of performance with probe data, and the emphasis on teaching to fluency.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Describe five of the seven major advantages of Essential for Living.
  2. Describe how to get started using Essential for Living.
  3. Describe the Essential Eight Skills.

Jamie DeQuinzio, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Title: Incorporating Observational Learning into Autism Treatment: From Conceptual Analysis to Applied Practice 

Abstract: Children with autism present with substantial deficits in imitation and observational learning. Observational learning requires a generalized imitative repertoire, yet exceeds it, also requiring subtle discriminations about observed actions and their outcomes. To shift from learning in a one-on-one context to a group setting, for example, a child must identify contingencies as applied to another, and then demonstrate novel responses related to those contingencies without directly experiencing them. While complex, observational learning is essential for children with autism to learn social and academic responses in more generalized learning environments. Most contemporary curricula for children with autism incorporate instruction in a variety of imitative response topographies. Less common in applied research and practice, however, are procedures to ensure that children with autism learn to acquire novel responses through observational learning.  This presentation will outline innovative instructional programs and research directives that move beyond direct imitation to the skills essential for observational learning. In addition, conceptualizing observational learning within a behavior-analytic framework informs the development of said research and instructional practices. As such, this workshop will also present a behavior analysis of observational learning. Videotaped examples illustrate research protocols and curriculum considerations. Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to design individualized instructional programs to teach observational learning in their respective practices.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Define observational learning from a traditional and a behavior-analytic perspective.
  2. Describe the difference between observational learning and imitation
  3. Describe potential prerequisite skills for observational learning.
  4. Identify the component skills of observational learning.
  5. Describe three curriculum considerations for teaching observational learning.​


Title: Social Referencing and Autism: Translating Research into Successful Practice Outcomes

Abstract: Responding to the non-vocal affective behavior of others (e.g., facial expressions and gestures), is an important component of the development of social behavior. One type of social interaction that relies heavily on the ability to respond to such cues is social referencing.  During social referencing, infants as young as 6 months of age look to the non-vocal cues of caregivers when confronted with unfamiliar or unexpected events in the environment as a means of determining how to respond. Typically, approach or avoidance responses are learned by responding to positive and negative affective cues of the parent or caregiver (e.g., smiling and frowning).  Unfortunately, social referencing repertoires are limited, delayed, or completely lacking in children with autism.  Despite these documented social deficits, little to no research has focused on ameliorating social referencing deficits. On the other hand, behavior analysts have been successful at addressing join attention deficits, a different but related skill. The purpose of this talk is to present a behavior-analytic conceptualization of social referencing, discuss the implications for ameliorating these deficits in children with autism, describe the differences between social referencing and joint attention, and present protocols that can used in treatment and research. 

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Define social referencing from a traditional developmental perspective and using a behavior-analytic perspective.
  2. Describe the social referencing deficits of children with autism and discuss research related to improving these deficits.
  3. Discuss behavior analytic technology used to address these deficits.
  4. Understand research related to social referencing deficits and develop treatment plans for improving social referencing.