Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Timothy Weil, Ph.D.

Keywords

Discrete trial training, Autism, Applied behavior analysis, Pivotal response training, Parent training

Abstract

Children with autism have deficits in social interactions and verbal and nonverbal communication and engagement in rigid and repetitive activities and/or interests (ASA, 2008). A joint attention (JA) repertoire has been identified as a behavioral cusp for later social development and thus, JA deficits serve as an early indicator for diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (Vismara & Lyons, 2007; Whalen & Schbreibman, 2003). A JA repertoire consists of both responses to- and initiations for-bids for coordinated attention. Previous research has shown teaching strategies such as pivotal response and discrete trial training for joint attention skills to be effective (Vismara & Lyons, 2007; Whalen & Schreibman, 2003). The purpose of the current study was to evaluate a mixture of pivotal response and discrete trial training as an intervention method for training joint attention behaviors with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in a home setting. In addition, this study evaluated the effects of interspersing targets during training and incorporated generalization probes to assess JA initiations in the form of shifting eye gaze and pointing. Lastly this study examined a parent training procedure to determine if it would promote maintenance after skill acquisition. Results show that all targets were acquired when taught simultaneously. The results show that 2 of the 3 participants made JA initiations during probes throughout intervention. Lastly, the results indicated that parent training did not help maintain JA responding for participant one.

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