Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling

Committee Chair(s)

Thomas S. Higbee


Thomas S. Higbee


Timothy A Slocum


Sophia D'Agostino


P. Raymond Joslyn


Lisa Milman


Deficits in communication and play can affect the quality of life of autistic children and individuals, which is why it is important that we help them acquire these skills as early as possible. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) and script training and fading procedures are evidence-based practices that can successfully teach communication during play. However, script fading can be difficult, and scripts may not be able to be completely faded out of the environment. The findings from a recent study suggested that specific phrases can become associated with small pictures rather than written scripts Perhaps, these specific phrases can be tied directly to the toys being played with using verbal prompts. If this is possible, the fading of supplemental visual aids (e.g., written scripts, small picture) would not be necessary. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether visual aids such as written scripts and small pictures are necessary to teach preschool aged autistic children to make play statements while playing with playsets. One participant demonstrated a small increase in their number of play statements but required the use of small pictures attached to the toys to meet mastery. Two participants demonstrated no change in their number of play statements until after the small pictures were introduced. Those two participants also required the addition of pre-session teaching to meet mastery. Additionally, all three participants continued making play statements with new playsets. We also discuss potential limitations and suggestions for future research.