Research and Application

Learn and Apply Cutting-Edge Research

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Research Events

ACI Learning Centers research team of BCBA’s travels to a variety of national conferences presenting groundbreaking research and offering interactive workshops.


Upcoming Events

January 18-20, 2019- Poster- 13th Annual Autism Conference

Teaching the Foundational Components of Pretend Play and Language to Children Diagnosed with Autism

Melissa Schissler, BCBA
San Francisco, CA

January 18-20, 2019- Poster- 13th Annual Autism Conference

Assessing Typical Children’s Imaginary Play to More Effectively Program for Children With Autism

Bailey Bosc, BCaBA
San Francisco, CA

Past Events

September 2018- Symposium- Florida Association for Behavior Analysis (FABA) 38th Annual Convention

A Behavioral Approach to Targeting Play Skills and Language Acquisition 

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, Melissa Schissler, BCBA, and Bailey Bosc, BCaBA
Bonita Springs, FL

May 25, 2018- Workshop- Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) 44th Annual Convention

A Systematic Approach to Teaching Play Skills

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, and Melissa Schissler, BCBA
Friday, May 25, 2018 8:00am-3:00pm
San Diego, CA

May 26, 2018 – Symposium- Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) 44th Annual Convention

A Behavioral Approach to Teaching Play Skills

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, Melissa Schissler, BCBA, and Bailey Bosc, BCaBA
Saturday, May 26th, 2018 4:00pm-4:50pm
San Diego, CA

April 20, 2018- Symposium- Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA) 2018 Convention

Assessing and Teaching Pretend Play and Language

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, Melissa Schissler, BCBA, and Bailey Bosc, BCaBA
Friday, April 20, 2018 10:30am-12:00pm
St. Louis, MO

March 23, 2018- Symposium – Women in Behavior Analysis

Assessing Typically Developing Children’s Independent and Sociodramatic Play Skills

Nancy Champlin BCBA, and Melissa Schissler, BCBA
Friday, March 23, 2018 11:00am-11:50am
Nashville, TN

March 9, 2018 – Symposium – California Association for Behavior Analysis (CalABA) 36th Annual Convention

Assessing and Teaching Pretend Play and Language

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, Melissa Schissler, BCBA, Mollie Richert, Bailey Bosc, BCaBA
Friday, March 9, 2018 3:15pm-4:45pm
Santa Clara, CA

May 29, 2017 – Symposium- Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) 43rd Annual Convention

Learning to Play and Playing to Learn

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, and Melissa Schissler, BCBA
Friday, May 29, 2018 8:00am-3:00pm
Denver, CO

May 26, 2017 – Workshop- Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) 43rd Annual Convention

The Use of Behavioral Intervention to Teach Developmentally Appropriate Play Skills

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, and Melissa Schissler, BCBA
Friday, May 26, 2017 8:00am-3:00pm
Denver, CO

March 24, 2017- Symposium- Association for Professional Behavior Analysis (APBA)

The Use of Behavioral Intervention to Teach Developmentally Appropriate Play Skills

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, Melissa Schissler, BCBA, Mollie Richert, Bailey Bosc, BCaBA
Friday, March 24, 2017 10:10am-11:40am
New Orleans, LA

2017- Symposium – Florida Association for Behavior Analysis (FABA) 37th Annual Convention

The Use of Behavioral Interventions to Teach Children with Autism Appropriate Play Skills

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, and Melissa Schissler, BCBA
Friday, October 6, 2017
Daytona Beach, FL

May 29, 2016 – Symposium – Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) 42nd Annual Convention

The Use of Behavioral Interventions to Teach Children with Autism Appropriate Play Skills

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, Melissa Schissler, BCBA, Mollie Richert, Bailey Bosc, BCaBA
Friday, May 29, 2016 3:00pm-3:50pm
Chicago, IL

2016 – Symposium – Florida Association for Behavior Analysis (FABA) 36th Annual Convention

The Use of Behavioral Interventions to Teach Appropriate Play Skills

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, Melissa Schissler, BCBA, Mollie Richert, Molly Sylvester, BCBA
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2016 – Workshop – Florida Association for Behavior Analysis (FABA) 36th Annual Convention

The Use of Behavioral Interventions to Teach Appropriate Play Skills

Nancy Champlin, BCBA, and Melissa Schissler, BCBA
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Podcasts

Pretend Play Podcast

A podcast focusing on the research and application of pretend play and language skills.

CEU’s available for purchase soon!

Episode 1 show notes

Download Welcome to the pretend play podcast. A podcast focusing on the research and application of pretend play and language skills. We begin by discussing deficits in play identified in children diagnosed with autism, language delays, or other developmental delays. We talk about functional play, the absence of elaborated play acts, and the use of gestures and vocalizations in play. We go on to discuss the correlations between play and language and the importance of targeting them simultaneously. In addition to language, play effects other developmental domains including cognition, social, self-regulation, school readiness, and more. Looking more toward applications we address some common barriers we have encountered to teaching children appropriate play skills. As well as the necessary components that need to be in place when programming for pretend play.  These components include looking at the developmental sequence and the importance of a systematic approach. To close things out we look at the importance of identifying play as a separate domain and the knowledge you can acquire by observing, assessing, and teaching pretend play. Thank you for listening! Please visit our website for more information or to purchase the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum. We encourage everyone to reach out to us if you have any questions about the show or suggestions on topics you would like to hear more about.  You can reach out through Facebook or e-mail Melissa at Melissa.Schissler@concepts.com References: Baron-Cohen, S. (1987). Autism and symbolic play. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 5(2), 139-148. Barton, E. E., & Wolery, M. (2008). Teaching pretend play to children with disabilities: A review of the literature. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 28(2), 109-125. Casby, M. W. (2003). Developmental assessment of play: A model for early intervention. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 24(4), 175-183. Charman, T., & Baron-Cohen, S. (1997). Brief report: Prompted pretend play in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27(3), 325-332. Ingersoll, B., & Schreibman, L. (2006). Teaching reciprocal imitation skills to young children with autism using a naturalistic behaivioral approach: Effects on language, pretend play, and joint attention. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(4), 487-505. Jahr, E. &. (2007). Changes in solitary play following acquistion of cooperative play by children with autism. Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis(2.2), 182-188. Lifter, K., Ellis, J., Cannon, B., & Anderson, S. R. (2005). Developmental specificity in targeting and teaching play activities to children with pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Early Intervention, 27(4), 247-267. McConnell, S. (2002). Interventions to facilitate social interaction for young children with autism: review of available research and recommendations for educational intervention and future research. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(5), 351-372. McCune, L. (1995). A normative study of representational play at the transition to language. Developmental Psychology, 31(2), 198-206. Mills, P. E., Beecher, C. C., Dale, P. S., Cole, K. N., & Jenkins, J. R. (2014). Language of children with disabilities to peers at play impact of ecology. Journal of Early Intervention, 36(2), 111-130. Pierce-Jordan, S., & Lifter, K. (2005). Interaction of social and play behaviors in preschoolers with and without pervasive developmental disorder. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 25(1), 34-47. Rowe, M. (2010). Shaving cream and cowboys: A descriptive study of play differences between typically developing and developmentally delayed preschoolers. Education Research and Perspectives, 37(2), 64-78. Thiemann-Bourque, K. S., Brady, N. C., & Fleming, K. K. (2012). Symbolic play of preschoolers with severe communication impairments with autism and other developmental delays: More similarities than differences. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(5), 863-873. Thorp, D. M., Stahmer, A. C., & Schreibman, L. (1995). Effects of sociodramatic play training on children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 25(3), 265-282. Williams, E., Costall, A., & Reddy, V. (1999). Children with autism experience problems with both objects and people. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29(5), 367-378. Yoder, P. J. (2006). Predicting lexical density growth rate in young children with autism spectrum disorders. American Journal of Speech-Language Psychology, 15(4), 378-388.

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Episode 2 show notes

Welcome to the pretend play podcast. A podcast focusing on the research and application of pretend play and language skills. Today we take on the topic: What is Pretend Play. We begin by discussing definitions of play and the variance of terminology in the literature and different types of play.  We go on to discuss the developmental stages of play, including the history of play taxonomies and ACI Learning Centers Developmental Sequence. Looking at the correlation between play and language we discuss the developmental sequence of language and the pre-requisites to language including, joint attention, gestures and babbling. We wrap it up by identifying the various types of language in play. Thank you for listening! Please visit our website for more information or to purchase the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum. We encourage everyone to reach out to us if you have any questions about the show or suggestions on topics you would like to hear more about.  You can reach out through Facebook or e-mail Melissa at Melissa.Schissler@concepts.com References: Barton, E. E., & Wolery, M. (2008). Teaching pretend play to children with disabilities: A review of the literature. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 28(2), 109-125. Barton, E. E., & Wolery, M. (2010). Training teachers to promote pretend play in young children with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 77(1), 85-106. Beaulieu, L., & Povinelli, J. L. (2018). Improving solitary play with a typically developing preschooler. Behavioral Interventions, 33(2), 212-218. Charlop-Christy, M. H., Le, L., & Freeman, K. A. (2000). A comparison of video modeling with in vivo modeling for teaching children with autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 30(6), 537-552. Dupere, S., MacDonald, R. P., & Ahearn, W. H. (2013). Using video modeling with substitutable loops to teach varied play to children with autism. Journal of applied behavior analysis, 46(3), 662-668. Hall, S., Rumney, L., Holler, J., & Kidd, E. (2013). Associations among play, gesture and early spoken language acquisition. First Language, 33(3), 294-312. Kasari, C., Freeman, S., & Paparella, T. (2006). Joint attention and symbolic play in young children with autism: A randomized controlled intervention study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(6), 611-620. Lifter, K., & Bloom, L. (1989). Object knowledge and the emergence of language. Infant Behavior and Development, 12(4), 395-423. Lifter, K., & Bloom, L. (1998). Intentionality and the role of play in the transition to language. Transitions in prelinguistic communication, 7, 161-196. MacDonald, R., Sacramone, S., Mansfield, R., Wiltz, K., & Ahearn, W. H. (2009). Using video modeling to teach reciprocal pretend play to children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 42(1), 43-55. MacDonald, R., Clark, M., Garrigan, E., & Vangala, M. (2005). Using video modeling to teach pretend play to children with autism. Behavioral Interventions: Theory & Practice in Residential & Community‐Based Clinical Programs, 20(4), 225-238. McCune-Nicolich, L., & Carroll, S. (1981). Development of symbolic play: implications for the language specialist. Topics in Language Disorders. McCune, L. (1995). A normative study of representational play in the transition to language. Developmental psychology, 31(2), 198. Mills, P. E., Beecher, C. C., Dale, P. S., Cole, K. N., & Jenkins, J. R. (2014). Language of children with disabilities to peers at play: Impact of ecology. Journal of Early Intervention, 36(2), 111-130. Orr, E., & Geva, R. (2015). Symbolic play and language development. Infant Behavior and Development, 38, 147-161. Palechka, G., & MacDonald, R. (2010). A comparison of the acquisition of play skills using instructor-created video models and commercially available videos. Education and Treatment of Children, 33(3), 457-474. Reagon, K. A., Higbee, T. S., & Endicott, K. (2006). Teaching pretend play skills to a student with autism using video modeling with a sibling as model and play partner. Education and Treatment of Children, 517-528. Sani-Bozkurt, S., & Ozen, A. (2015). Effectiveness and efficiency of peer and adult models used in video modeling in teaching pretend play skills to children with autism spectrum disorder. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 71-83. Ulke-Kurkcuoglu, B., Bozkurt, F., & Cuhadar, S. (2015). Effectiveness of Instruction Performed through Computer-Assisted Activity Schedules on On-Schedule and Role-Play Skills of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 15(3), 671-689.

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Episode 3 show notes

Welcome to the pretend play podcast. A podcast focusing on the research and application of pretend play and language skills. Today we take on the topic: What is Pretend Play. We begin by discussing playroom organization including the the toys and play schemes we have set up at ACI Learning Centers to most effectively target pretend play. We go on to discuss various definitions of toys in the research and toy selection. Looking at the complexity of toys we discuss abstract toys, sociodramatic toys, toy combinations, and the number of different actions that can be completed with a single toy.   We wrap things up discussing the gender differences in toy selection and preference. Thank you for listening! Please visit our website for more information or to purchase the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum. We encourage everyone to reach out to us if you have any questions about the show or suggestions on topics you would like to hear more about.  You can reach out through Facebook or e-mail Melissa at Melissa.Schissler@concepts.com   References: Cherney I.D., Kelly-Vance L, Glover K.A., Ruane A.M., Ryalls B.R. (2003). The effects of stereotyped toys and gender on play assessment in children aged 18-47 months. Educational Psychology23(1), 95-106. Doctoroff, S. (2001). Adapting the physical environment to meet the needs of all young children for play. Early Childhood Education Journal29(2), 105-109. Edwards, C. P., Knoche, L., & Kumru, A. (2001). Play patterns and gender. Encyclopedia of Women and Gender 2, 809-815. Klemenović, J. (2014). How do today’s children play and with which toys. Croatian Journal of Education. 16(1), 181-200. Lieber, J., & Beckman, P. J. (1991). The role of toys in individual and dyadic play among young children with handicaps. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology12(2), 189-203. Trawick-Smith, J., Wolff, J., Koschel, M., & Vallarelli, J. (2014). Which toys promote high-quality play? Reflections on the five-year anniversary of the TIMPANI study. Young Children, 69(2), 40-47. Venkatesan, S. (2014). Availability of toys for children with developmental disabilities. Journal of Disability Management and Special Education4(1), 58-70.

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Episode 4 show notes

We begin by reiterating the importance of pretend play and discuss the 5 elements of pretend play.   We get into our main topic today, categories of play, and discuss the 3 categories of pretend play: familiar, observed, and community.  For each category of play Nancy and Melissa break down the research and provide examples.  We look at the core deficits of autism and what barriers we have seen when failing to target the appropriate category of play. It all wraps up with a discussion on data collection and implementation.   Thank you for listening! Please visit our website for more information or to purchase the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum.   We encourage everyone to reach out to us if you have any questions about the show or suggestions on topics you would like to hear more about.  You can reach out through Facebook or e-mail Melissa at Melissa.Schissler@concepts.com   References: Casby, M. W. (2003). Developmental assessment of play: A model for early intervention. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 24(4), 175-183. Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis(2nd ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall. Jahr, E. &. (2007). Changes in solitary play following acquistion of cooperative play by children with autism. Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis(2.2), 182-188. Lifter, K., & Bloom, L. (1989). Object knowledge and the emergence of language. Infant Behavior and Development12(4), 395-423. Lifter, K., Ellis, J., Cannon, B., & Anderson, S. R. (2005). Developmental specificity in targeting and teaching play activities to children with pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Early Intervention, 27(4), 247-267.

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Episode 5 show notes

Welcome to the pretend play podcast. A podcast focusing on the research and application of pretend play and language skills. Today we take on the topic: Agent of Play Pretend Play definition: We review definitions of pretend play Lifter, Ellis, Cannon, Anderson, 2005 ;Lifter, Mason, & Barton, 2011 Deficits in children with autism and developmental delays: Discuss common deficits observed and the research supporting behavioral interventions to teach pretend play. Ungerer & Sigman, 1981; Lewis & Boucher, 1995; Lifter, Ellis, Cannon, Anderson, 2005 Importance of teaching Agent of Play: Review of the research on the importance of agent of play and the different agents of play observed in typically developing children. Lifter & Bloom, 1989; Wolery, 1991; Lifter, Sulzer-Azaroff, & Anderson, 1993 Agent of play in the research: We review the research on different agents of play. Lifter, Sulzer-Azaroff, Anderson, & Cowerdy, 1993; Watson & Fischer, 1977 Agent of play in the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum (PPLAC): 

  • Self as Agent: review the research, discuss research we have conducted observing typically developing children and teaching children with autism, and implementation in the PPLAC

Ungerer & Sigman, 1981; Fein, 1981; Belsky & Most, 1981

  • Passive Figure: review the research, discuss research we have conducted observing typically developing children and teaching children with autism, and implementation in the PPLAC

Watson & Fischer, 1977; Watson & Fischer, 1980; Fein, 1981; Belsky & Most, 1981; McCune-Nicholich, 1981

  • Active Figure: review the research, discuss research we have conducted observing typically developing children and teaching children with autism, and implementation in the PPLAC

Fenson, Kagan, Kearsley, & Zelazo, 1976Watson & Fischer, 1977; McCune-Nicholich, 1981; Belsky & Most, 1981; Stokes & Osnes, 1989; Lifter, Mason, & Barton, 2011

Thank you for listening! Please visit our website for more information or to purchase the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum. We encourage everyone to reach out to us if you have any questions about the show or suggestions on topics you would like to hear more about.  You can reach out through Facebook or e-mail Melissa at Melissa.Schissler@concepts.com

Listen for free and purchase CEU after:

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Episode 6 show notes

Welcome to the pretend play podcast. A podcast focusing on the research and application of pretend play and language skills. Today we take on the topic: Object of Play Symbolic Play:  We review definitions of symbolic play McCune-Micholich, 1981Barton & Wolery, 2008 5 Elements of Play: Discuss the 5 elements of play in the PPLAC and definitions of the 3 objects of play. Components of symbolic play: Review of the research on the various components to symbolic play/object of play. McCune-Micholich, 1981; Casby, 2003 Object substitution: We review the research on object substitution including ACI Learning Centers research on typically developing children and teaching children with autism. McCune-Micholich, 1981 Imaginary play without objects: We review the research on imaginary object including ACI Learning Centers research on typically developing children and teaching children with autism. Stahmer, 1995; Taylor & Iacono, 2003 Assigning absent attributes: We review the research on assigning absent attributes including ACI Learning Centers research on typically developing children and teaching children with autism. Ingersoll & Schriebman, 2006Taylor & Iacono, 2003 Development of symbolic Play: we discuss the developmental sequence of object of play and the overlap with category of play Belsky & Most, 1981; Watson & Fisher, 1977Ungerer, Zelazo, Kearsley, & Kurowsit, 1981McCune-Micholich, 1981; Fein 1981; Fenson, Kagan, Kearsley, Zelazo, 1976; Smith & Jones, 2011; Language: we discuss the correlation between symbolic play and language development. Fein 1981; Charman & Baron-Cohen, 1997; Casby & Ruder, 1983Barton & Wolery, 2008; Casby, 2003Smith & Jones, 2011Taylor & Iacono, 2003; Thorp, Stahmer, & Schreibman, 1995; Kasari, Freeman, & Paparella, 2006 Thank you for listening! Please visit our website for more information, to earn CEUs for listening to this podcast, or to purchase the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum. We encourage everyone to reach out to us if you have any questions about the show or suggestions on topics you would like to hear more about.  You can reach out through Facebook or e-mail Melissa at Melissa.Schissler@concepts.co

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More Information Coming Soon

Nancy Champlin and Melissa Schissler offer in-depth training on each Stage of play in the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum (PPLAC).

Downloadable Resources

PPLAC

PPLAC Assessment

Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum (PPLAC) Assessment
Download the full PPLAC assessment and progress monitoring form here

Download the full brief PPLAC assessment here

PPLAC Datasheets

Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum (PPLAC) Datasheets 
Download the PPLAC Stage 1 datasheet  here

Download the PPLAC Stage 2 datasheet here

Download the PPLAC Stage 3 datasheet here

Download the PPLAC Stage 4 datasheet here