Infant sign-language training and functional analysis

Document Type

Conference Presentation



Conference Title

Annual Meeting of the California Association for Behavior Analysis


California Association for Behavior Analysis


Burlingame, CA

Date of Presentation



Thompson et al. (2004, 2007) recently published a structured methodology for teaching sign language to infants. The current study attempted to teach signs to 5 typically developing infants (8 mos to 2 yrs 3 mos) utilizing Thompson et al.’s methodology in a non-concurrent multiple-baseline across participants design with reversals. Individual signs were selected for each participant based on reinforcers nominated by caregivers. During baseline, reinforcers were delivered on a time-based schedule. During intervention, individual signs were trained using a progressive prompting schedule. Following sign training, an experimenter will conduct a functional analysis to assess the function of the signs and assess the utility of the FA methodology for verbal behavior. Mean reliability for 43% of sessions is 97% (range: 75-100%). Results thus far suggest that age and reinforcer selection may be critical factors in determining sign acquisition.

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