Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling

Department name when degree awarded

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Committee Chair(s)

Tyra Sellers


Tyra Sellers


Thomas S. Higbee


Timothy A. Slocum


It is often difficult for parents to address their child’s problem behavior. Children with special needs can display more frequent and intense problem behavior. Therefore, professionals need to help parents of children with special needs identify how to decrease their child’s problem behavior. Professionals help to decrease problem behavior by performing assessments called descriptive assessments to identify why the problem behavior is happening, and then using these assessments to create an appropriate plan of how to prevent and respond to the problem behavior. We examined if parents could be taught the skills necessary to perform descriptive assessments and then use these assessments to choose appropriate ways to treat the problem behavior. Parents included four parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Video vignettes of child actors displaying various problem behaviors were used to assess the parents’ ability to perform a descriptive assessment, figure out why the problem behavior was happening, and then use this assessment to choose appropriate ways to get the problem behavior to decrease. These skills were assessed prior to a training class and then following a training class where the parents were taught how to perform the skills. In order for parents to be able to use these skills in their everyday lives, it is important that they can apply the skills to their own children. Therefore, a video vignette of each parents’ child displaying problem behavior was used to see if the parents could apply what they had learned in the training class to their own child. Results varied for participants. Therefore, it is unknown whether the training class in the current study helped parents to learn to perform a descriptive assessment to figure out why a problem behavior is happening and then use the assessment to identify ways to decrease the problem behavior. More research is needed to teach parents to apply these skills to their own children.