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The Effects of Adult Contingent Vocal Imitation on the Vocal Behavior of Young Children with Autism
AdvisorGhezzi, Patrick M.
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Adult contingent vocal imitation (ACVI) is a procedure whereby an adult imitates the vocal behavior of a child. There is evidence showing that ACVI can increase the frequency of a child’s vocal behavior, imitative vocal behavior, and vocal turn taking, however few studies have investigated the effects of ACVI with young children diagnosed with autism. The present study examined the effects of ACVI with children diagnosed with autism who seldom made vocal responses or imitated the vocal responses of other people. Experiment 1 compared the effects of an adult either imitating the child’s vocal responses or providing non-imitative praise contingent on the child’s vocalizations. Increases in child vocalizations were only observed in the ACVI condition. Experiment 2 described a clinical intervention using the ACVI procedure in an applied setting. Improvements in the children’s vocal responding and vocal imitative responding were observed, and vocal mand training was successfully implemented with both children. Results from Experiment 1 and 2 support previous research on the reinforcing effects of ACVI and contributes to the limited research literature on the effects of ACVI with children diagnosed with autism.