Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Special Education and Rehabilitation

Committee Chair(s)

Thomas S. Higbee


Thomas S. Higbee


Sarah Bloom


Timothy Slocum


Sarah Rule


Beth Foley


A primary deficit seen in many children with autism, particularly those with limited verbal repertoires, is repetitive and rote verbal behavior. This type of repetitive or rote verbal behavior can be stigmatizing and may severely limit access to primary reinforcers. Therefore, it may be beneficial to attempt to increase response variability in verbal behavior demonstrated by children with autism. Previous researchers have focused their efforts on examining response variability in motor behavior or existing verbal behavior, rather than new or recently taught verbal behavior. A potentially complementary intervention for teaching new verbal interactions is the use of scripts and script fading procedures. However, the effect of scripts and script fading procedures on the response variability of verbal behavior remains unknown. Thus, the present study attempted to answer several research questions. First, we examined the effects on extinction on response variability of mand frames used by young children with autism that exhibit limited manding repertoires. Second, we examined the effects of script training on the variability of mand frames, and finally, the effects of extinction after teaching a variety of mand frames with children with autism. Results demonstrated that (a) extinction prior to any teaching was not successful in increasing response variability, (b) teaching multiple mand frames in a successive pattern did not increase response variability of mand frames for any of the participants, (c) extinction after teaching additional mand frames increased response variability for two of the three participants, and (d) a multiple script presentation intervention increased response variability of mand frames for one participant.