ERIC Number: EJ1033836
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Reference Count: 31
Review of Research: Do You Speak My Language? Are Behavior Analysts Considering the Needs of Learners on the Autism Spectrum?
Childhood Education, v90 n2 p143-147 2014
One of the domains most commonly affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is communication (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Language deficits in children with ASD can be as severe as to warrant a label as nonverbal, or characterized by difficulties with the functions of communication. Additionally, deficits in language for children with ASD often manifest in a number of maladaptive behaviors, such as stereotypic responses, tantrums, or aggression. In fact, the majority of aberrant behaviors commonly exhibited by children with ASD relate to the need to develop or increase their language repertoire. While a great deal of research has been devoted to language-inducing treatments for children with ASD, these studies have paid very little attention to the diverse characteristics of the children treated. In this article, the author asserts that children with an ASD-diagnosis who come from homes where English is not the first language spoken should be provided instruction in their native language (Wilder, Dyches, Obiakor, & Algozzine, 2004). The use of such a native language strategy is also supported by research on the needs analysis of language learning, second language acquisition, and a family-centered approach. Unfortunately, little research discusses the utility of applying such a native language approach (even more specifically, a verbal behavior approach to teaching language) to already empirically validated in-home language interventions for such children. So where is the integration of behavior analytic practices and native language instruction? With evidence building for both pieces of that puzzle, the author concludes that behavior analysts need to face their ethical obligations to target really socially significant behaviors. Verbal behavior-based language interventions need to begin with a needs analysis that will make the already targeted goals of generalization more attainable. Lastly, it must be remembered that truly expanding a child with ASD's access to positive reinforcement means giving him or her tools to communicate effectively in his or her environment, whatever language may be spoken there.
Descriptors: Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Language Impairments, Communication Problems, Behavior Problems, Language Skills, Native Language Instruction, Teaching Methods, Language Usage, Behavior, English (Second Language), Verbal Ability, Verbal Communication, Behavior Modification, Intervention, Student Needs
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
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