Graduation Year

2016

Degree

M.A.

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Kimberly Crosland, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Timothy M. Weil, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Danielle Sutton, Ph.D.

Keywords

Arbitrarily Applicable Relational Responding, Autism, Perspective Taking, Pretend Play, Relational Frame Theory, Theory of Mind

Abstract

Perspective taking is a pivotal behavioral repertoire essential for social functioning and is recognized as a hallmark deficit of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Recent advancements in the Relational Frame Theory have led to the development of a perspective-taking training protocol shown to improve performance on Theory of Mind tasks in typically developing children; however, there has been little research on the generality of these findings in children with ASD. The impact of deictic responding on social interaction is also undetermined. The current study aimed to: a), evaluate the effectiveness of multiple exemplar training of deictic relations on perspective taking abilities in children with ASD, b), assess the impact of deictic relations on naturalistic Theory of Mind tasks, and c), assess generality of the deictic repertoire on pretend play. All three participants acquired deictic repertoires through double reversed complexity. Acquisition of the relational operants was variable and required many sessions for each participant. Two of three participants showed transfer of perspective taking to the Strange Stories test, all three participants showed overall improvement in performance on various Theory of Mind tasks; and lastly, participants showed mixed results on transfer to pretend play.

Implications for using multiple exemplar training in supporting social understanding, prerequisite skills for deictic relational responding, and training strategies are discussed.

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