Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Matrix Training of Receptive Language Skills with a Toddler with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Study

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Matrix Training of Receptive Language Skills with a Toddler with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

Matrix training is a systematic teaching approach that can facilitate generalized language. Specific responses are taught that result in the emergence of untrained responses. This type of training facilitates the use of generalized language in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study used a matrix training procedure with a toddler with ASD. The participant was taught five responses that consisted of action-object instructions. He generalized responding to 11 untrained of 16 learned responses. This case study provided preliminary support for the use of a matrix training procedure with a toddler with ASD to promote generative language acquisition.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, toddler, matrix training, recombinative generalization

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One of the diagnosable features of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a delay in social communication skills (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). There is a range of language deficits that may be present in children with ASD (e.g., very limited speech, lack of response to social interactions, deficits in understanding gestures). There can be deficits in both receptive and expressive language. Additionally, parents often express concern about language development when their child is around 13 months of age (Kozlowski, Matson, Horovitz, Worley, & Neal, 2011). With early identification of ASD now reliable at age two (Lord et al., 2006), it is important that young children receive early intervention targeting social communication (Kaiser & Roberts, 2011) and other language deficits.

Intervention typically involves explicitly teaching targeted skills. However, it is impossible to anticipate and teach children each and every utterance needed to express themselves, to respond to instructions, and to function socially. Thus, one goal of language intervention for children with ASD is to facilitate generative responding that allows them to respond to and produce language (i.e., both receptive and expressive language) that has never been directly taught but is related to what is taught (Suchowierska, 2006). One way to achieve generalized language is through a process termed "recombinative generalization," defined as the "differential responding to novel combinations of stimulus components that have been included previously in other stimulus contexts" (Goldstein, 1983b, p. 281). This occurs when stimulus components (such as words) that have been taught are rearranged with other stimulus components to create new untaught arrangements. For example, if a child is taught to respond to the receptive language instructions, "give me the car" and "show me the cow," and he or she can respond to recombined parts, "show me the car" and "give me the cow," recombinative generalization has occurred.

Recombinative generalization can be conceptualized and established by using a matrix training procedure (Goldstein, Angelo, & Mousetis, 1987). Matrix training is a systematic teaching approach that requires arranging constituents (e.g., words) along the horizontal and vertical axes of a rectangle that is divided into cells (see Figure 1 for the matrix used in this study). Each cell represents a different response. One can teach along the diagonal of the matrix so that every word on the vertical axis is combined with a different word on the horizontal axis (i.e., there is not duplicates or overlap) or one can teach in a step-wise fashion (i.e., two cells from the same row going down the diagonal) to ensure that overlap among the constituents occurs. In other words, the word on the vertical axis is combined with two words on the horizontal axis so that there is overlap. Direct teaching of those responses, may facilitate the emergence of other untrained responses (i.e., the other cells in the matrix).

Originally called a miniature linguistic system (MLS), matrix training was first applied by Esper in 1925 (Foss, 1968; Goldstein, 1983a) with undergraduate students. …

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