Date of Award:

2013

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Advisor/Chair:

Thomas S. Higbee

Abstract

Individuals with autism often display rote and repetitive responding across behavioral topographies. One area that is often affected is the individual’s verbal repertoire. In an attempt to build and expand verbal repertoires, script and script fading procedures have often been implemented to teach individuals new and varied verbal behavior. Script training and fading procedures have also been used specifically to remediate deficits in an individual’s mand repertoire. Researchers have examined the effects of script training and fading procedures on the variability within an individual’s mand repertoire. This line of research is of great importance since a lack of variability in mands can limit an individual’s access to desired and/or needed items as well as social interactions. In the present study, we implemented simultaneous script training and fading procedures to increase the variability of mands used by three preschool-aged children (one male and two females) diagnosed with autism. We implemented these procedures in an attempt to promote mand variability using antecedent only procedures and to teach variability explicitly in our script training and fading preparation. It was also our goal to address some of the limitations that arose in the previously conducted mand variability studies, namely, the suppression of the default mand frame. At the conclusion of the study, and following procedural modifications, all three participants demonstrated an increase in variability of mand frames. This increase was observed following the inclusion of extinction procedures and following low levels of variability while using antecedent-only procedures. Participants in this study demonstrated an average of one mand frame following antecedent-only procedures and this increased to an average of three mand frames following the inclusion of extinction procedures. The combination of the antecedent procedures and extinction further increased variability across participants. The need for the extinction condition led to many limitations in this study including the limitations analyzed in the simultaneous script training and fading procedures.