Using functional analysis and presession attention to assess peer versus adult attention as a motivating operation for perseverative speech
Roantree, Christina Frances
Perseverative speech is the inability to adapt topics of conversation along with the social context and continuing with one topic even after it has ceased to be socially appropriate (Sandson & Albert, 1984). Perseverative speech has been studied in a variety of populations (i.e., aphasiacs, traumatic brain disorder, etc) and has been identified as a common problem in individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA; Volkmar et al., 2005). There is evidence to suggest that perseverative speech may have an operant function, therefore being amenable to interventions based on environmental manipulations (Allyon & Michael, 1959). Functional analysis (FA) is a common assessment of operant function and has been used for a variety of problem behaviors (Hanley et al., 2003). The current study extended the use of FA to identify the following, three aspects of perseverative speech of three, elementary-aged students with HFA: (a) whether there is a social function; (b) whether perseverative speech is a skill acquisition or performance deficit; and (c) whether peer or adult attention has differential effects on perseverative speech. Results indicate these FA procedures were able to identify these aspects of perseverative speech.