Teaching communication skills to children with autism was the topic of the keynote speaker at the 2012 Southeastern Autism Symposium address Friday morning in the Rose Lecture Hall on the campus of Lee University.
Dr. Vincent J. Carbone said verbal behavior is best analyzed and explained by considering the environmental stimuli that preceded the verbal behavior and the stimuli (or consequences) that follow.
He said in behavior analysis of language, a word is not defined by its form, but rather by its function. Experts say there are four primary verbal behaviors of language: the Mand (requesting/demanding), Tact (labeling), Echoic (vocal, sign imitation), Intraverbal (“wh” questions).
He said most people fall into the trap of teaching by labeling things. By using that method, a child might recognize 500 objects by looking at a flash card and being rewarded with a raisin for correctly identifying the objects. That, he said, does not reinforce the desired outcome because the child still does not know how to ask for the object.
He said the best way to teach verbal communication skills is using the mand method.
“For example, when I am thirsty, I am more inclined to say ‘water.’ If someone gives me water at that moment, that response has been strengthened,” he said.
Carbone is a board-certified behavior analyst with more than 30 years of experience designing learning environments for persons with autism and development disabilities.
He received his graduate training in applied behavior analysis at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He has served on the Florida Peer Review Committee, which monitors and guides the provision of behavior analysis services for persons with autism and related developmental disabilities.
He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Penn State University and at Florida Institute of Technology and is currently visiting professor in the behavioral education doctoral program at Simmons College in Boston.
His teaching responsibilities have included courses in applied behavior analysis and verbal behavior. He is the developer and presenter of a series of workshops on teaching verbal behavior to children with autism based upon B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior. He and his clinic staff are currently working with school districts, agencies, and families throughout the United States and Europe.
Dr. Tammy Johnson, director of Lee University Developmental Inclusion Classroom, said during her introduction of Carbone that having him as the keynote speaker was a day she’d always dreamed of.
“For the whole 10 years we’ve been having the symposium, ever since we began formulating the idea this would be an annual event where we could focus on autism here in our area, I knew this was the man I wanted to come to this community and share the things I’ve learned from him,” Johnson said.
She said Carbone has impacted so many lives in so many ways and had touched her life in many incredible ways.
“Something you will not find in print is that he was a student of B.F. Skinner, but he will not publicize that because he didn’t graduate from the program where B.F. Skinner was,” Johnson said. “He took courses with him and workshops and rubbed shoulders with him. Dr. Carbone is a child of Skinner and that makes me a granddaughter.”
Johnson said his fingerprint is all over many of the things the symposium involves and his DNA is all over LUDIC.