Francesca degli Espinosa

Activity: Hosting a visitor typesHosting an academic visitor


Although an increasing number of single-case studies have focused on teaching language skills to children with autism using Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behaviour in recent years, the majority have focused on establishing primary operants at the single-word level. Nevertheless, from two to three years of age, neurotypical children naturally demonstrate generalised and multiply-controlled verbal behaviour, including autoclitics: They are, for example, able to provide full-sentence answers to novel questions about ongoing and past events, to describe their own experiences, and to respond to a variety of Wh questions. The ability to discriminate questions is therefore one of the most fundamental listener and speaker skills, yet it is poorly understood and underappreciated by ABA curricula. A programme of instruction will be presented in which language objectives are organised along a continuum of increasing stimulus control complexity, and discussion provided on how best to move from teaching simple stimulus discriminations to mastery of complex verbal conditional discriminations. Special emphasis will be placed on the role of autoclitic frames and intraverbal control in teaching generalised question answering. The current presentation will focus on some recent research providing clinicians with a conceptually systematic framework for teaching complex and generalised verbal behaviour to children with autism based on a Skinnerian analysis of verbal stimulus control.
Period06 Mar 2023
Visitor degreePhD
Degree of RecognitionInternational