Plural Publishing produces leading academic, scientific and clinical publications in the fields of speech-language pathology, audiology, and otolaryngology.


Behavioral Principles in Communicative Disorders
Applications to Assessment and Treatment

Christine A. Maul, Brooke R. Findley, Amanda Nicolson Adams
282 pages, Illustrated (B/W), Softcover, 7 x 10"
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Behavioral Principles in Communicative Disorders: Applications to Assessment and Treatment examines the basic principles of the science of behaviorism and applies those principles to the assessment and treatment of communicative disorders. It begins with the history and basic principles of behaviorism, as well as a chapter examining Skinner's (1957) concept of verbal behavior and functional units of verbal behavior. The text then discusses functional behavior assessment, the formulation of operationally defined target behaviors, discrete trial treatment procedures, and various techniques for increasing desirable behaviors and decreasing undesirable behaviors. The concluding chapters describe single-case research designs that support the efficacy of behavioral principles and address ethical questions and historic controversies surrounding the application of those principles.

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) seek to change communicative behaviors in the clients they serve; the principles of behavioral science have many applications to the assessment and treatment of communicative disorders. There is a vast body of evidence indicating the efficacy of behavioral approaches in behavior modification, and SLPs have been tasked by their professional associations to employ evidence-based practices. Also, there is an appreciation for the usefulness of behavioral principles in treating clients with very severe communicative disorders, such as autism, apraxia, and dysfluency. This is evidenced by the development of the field of applied behavior analysis and the growing numbers of board certified behavior analysts (BCBA), with whom SLPs may be called upon to collaborate.

Behavioral Principles in Communicative Disorders is primarily designed for practicing speech-language pathologists looking for detailed descriptions of evidence-based treatment procedures, as well as professors and students in university programs in communicative disorders. However, professionals in other fields, such as applied behavior analysis and special education, will also find this to be a highly useful text.

. . .Very well organized, clear focus, and an easy read. The material is well integrated with a nice mix of scenarios, assessment forms, questions and chapter summaries that helped “reinforce” the ideas, theories, and methods the authors were introducing. The common theme of ABCs and behavioral approaches was apparent and clearly interwoven throughout the text. I particularly liked the addition of the chapter on research, ethics, scope of practice, etc. as a final chapter to the text. It was an excellent ending for the book and in line with current ASHA requirements for the use of evidence based practice and understanding the basics of research.
--Jacqueline Guendouzi, PhD
Southeastern Louisiana University

The book does a good job of breaking the concepts behind the ABA approach down and explaining them in ways that someone with a background in speech-language pathology or communication science but no background in ABA could understand them.
--Laura Dilley, PhD
Michigan State University

The material is well integrated and provides a reasonable approach to the integration of themes. The text is well written, easy for undergraduate and graduate students in SLP.
--Anthony P Salvatore, PhD
University of Texas at El Paso


  • Matt Tincani and Amanda Guld Fisher, Perspectives on Behavioral Science (March 2018):
    "The authors of Behavioral Principles in Communicative Disorders intended to create an accessible text that would bridge the fields of ABA and speech-language pathology. In writing a comprehensive, accessible, and relevant guide to ABA geared toward SLPs in training, Maul et al. have more than satisfactorily accomplished their goal. Because ABA practitioners and SLPs frequently collaborate in interdisciplinary teams in support of individuals with communicative disorders, we believe that this text makes a unique and valuable contribution to both fields. We sincerely hope that the book will serve as a catalyst for future collaborations between ABA and speech-language pathology, as it broadens a mutual understanding of speech-language pathology and ABA."


Chapter 1. Introduction to Behaviorism
Why Should SLPs Learn the Principles of Behaviorism and How to Apply Them?
Definition and History of Behaviorism
Principles of Behaviorism
Behavior Modification: The Early Days
Philosophical Underpinnings
Early Experimentation in Behavior Modification
Applied Behavior Analysis
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises

Chapter 2. Verbal Behavior
Frances Pomaville
Definition of Verbal Behavior
Acquisition of Verbal Behavior
Functional Units of Verbal Behavior
Autoclitics: The Behavioral Explanation of Rules of Grammar
Multiple Causation: Complex Verbal Operants
Implications for Assessment and Treatment of Communicative Disorders
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises

Chapter 3. Defining and Measuring Behaviors
Defining Behaviors
Measuring Behaviors
Graphing and Interpreting Measurement Data
Determining Baseline Measures
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises

Chapter 4. Functional Behavior Assessment and Applications to Communicative Disorders
Definition of Contingencies
A-B-C Contingencies
Definition and Purpose of Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
Questions FBA Seeks to Answer
Gathering Data
FBA: Applications to Verbal Behavior
Assessment of Verbal Operants
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises

Chapter 5. Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT): A Framework
What Is a Discrete Trial?
Components of the Discrete Trial
Data Collection and Criterion Levels
Probe Procedures
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises

Chapter 6. Teaching New Behaviors
Antecedent Manipulations
Shaping New Behaviors
Chaining: Forward and Backward
Positive Reinforcement: Delivering the Consequence for Desired Responses
Negative Reinforcement
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises

Chapter 7. Generalizing and Maintaining Behaviors
Stimulus Discrimination Versus Generalization
Types of Generalization
Techniques for Promoting Generalization During Treatment
Probing for Generalization in the Clinic Setting
Techniques to Promote Maintenance in Natural Settings
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises

Chapter 8. Decreasing Undesirable Behaviors
Types of Undesirable Behavior for Reduction
Assessment of Undesirable Behaviors
Antecedent Interventions
A Clinical Definition of Punishment
Differential Reinforcement
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises

Chapter 9. Establishing the Evidence Base: Single-Case Experimental Designs
What Is Science?
Formulating a Research Question
Scientific Experimentation Versus Routine Clinical Work
Characteristics of Single-Case Research Designs
Types of Single-Case Research Designs
External Validity in Single-Case Research
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises

Chapter 10. Ethics in Scientific Research and Clinical Practice
A Brief History of Ethical Issues in Scientific Research
The National Research Act of 1974 and the Belmont Report
The Distinction Between Scientific Research and Clinical Practice
Ethical Issues in Conducting Treatment
Chapter Summary
Application Exercises


About The Authors

Christine A. Maul

Christine A. Maul, PhD, CCC-SLP, received her master's degree in communicative disorders with an option in speech-language pathology from California State University, Fresno, and her doctoral degree in education with an emphasis in special education, disabilities, and risk studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is currently an assistant professor at Fresno State in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies.

Brooke R. Findley

Brooke R. Findley, MA, CCC-SLP, BCBA, is a speech-language pathologist and board certified behavior analyst who has experience working in educational, medical, and university settings. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in communicative disorders with an option in speech-language pathology at California State University, Fresno, where she is presently pursing a doctoral degree in educational leadership.

Amanda Nicolson Adams

Amanda Nicolson Adams, PhD, BCBA, received her master's degree in psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno, and her doctorate from Florida State University. She became a board certified behavior analyst in 2000. Dr. Nicolson Adams was associate professor in the Psychology Department at California State University, Frenso, and served as the program coordinator for the applied behavior analysis master's program for seven years there.