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Teaching Manual Signs to Adults With Mental Retardation Using Matching-to-Sample Procedures and Stimulus Equivalence.

  • Elias, Nassim Chamel
  • Goyos, Celso
  • Saunders, Muriel
  • Saunders, Richard
Published Article
The Analysis of verbal behavior
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2008
PMID: 22477400


The objective of this study was to teach manual signs through an automated matching-to-sample procedure and to test for the emergence of new conditional relations and imitative behaviors. Seven adults with mild to severe mental retardation participated. Four were also hearing impaired. Relations between manual signs (set A) and pictures (set B) were initially taught, followed by the training of corresponding printed words (set C) and pictures (set B). Further presentations of conditional discriminations tested for the emergence of AC, followed by tests for the emergence of imitative signing behavior (D) in the presence of either pictures (B) or printed words (C). Each stimulus set was comprised of 9 elements. The stimuli were still pictures, printed words, and dynamic presentations of manual signs. A pretest was conducted to determine which signs the participants could make pre-experimentally. Teaching was arranged in a multiple baseline design across 3 groups of 3 words each. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether participants would emit manual signs in expressive signs tests as a result of observation (video modeling) during match-to-sample training in the absence of explicit training. Five of the 7 subjects passed tests of emergence and emitted at least 50% of the signs. Two were hearing impaired with signing experience, and 3 were not hearing impaired and had no signing experience. Thus, observation of video recorded manual signs in a matching-to-sample training procedure was effective at establishing some signs by adults with mental retardation.

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