Date of Award:

Spring 2014

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Advisor/Chair:

Thomas S. Higbee

Abstract

Repetitive behavior and delays in communication are core deficits of autism spectrum disorder. As a result, individuals with autism often engage in repetitive verbal behavior, and they may not vary their verbal behavior, even when the situation demands it. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a script training and discrimination training procedure on mand variability in preschoolers with autism. Participants were taught to vary their vocal mands in the presence of written scripts, a green placemat, and Lag schedule of reinforcement. They were also taught to not vary their vocal mands in the presence of the same written scripts and a red placemat. When the scripts were removed, all three participants continued to engage in varied manding in the presence of the Lag schedule of reinforcement and the green placemat. All three participants also did not vary their mands in the presence of the red placemat. When the Lag schedule of reinforcement was removed, two participants continued to engage in varied responding in the presence of the green placemat and unvaried responding in the iv presence of the red placemat. One participant did not engage in varied responding when the Lag schedule of reinforcement was removed. However, when the Lag schedule of reinforcement was re-introduced, varied responding re-emerged. Finally, all three participants demonstrated mand variability during snack sessions when their peers were present, and they maintained their varied manding after a 2-week follow-up.