Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Kimberly Crosland, Ph.D., BCBA

Committee Member

Raymond G. Miltenberger, Ph.D., BCBA

Committee Member

Catia Cividini-Motta, Ph.D., BCBA


teeth grinding, matched stimulation, developmental disabilities


Bruxism, the gnashing or grinding of one’s teeth, is a significant dental concern that can lead to severe damage of the tooth and gum structures and has been suggested to occur at higher rates in the developmentally disabled population. Very little research has been conducted in this area and of those articles, none of which utilized function based treatments nor conducted functional analyses. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the effects of a function based stimulation intervention on audible diurnal bruxism with two adolescent boys diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Functional analyses were conducted for both participants and revealed that bruxism was exhibited across all conditions and occurred highest in the alone condition, suggesting that the behavior was maintained by automatic reinforcement. Based on these findings, a function based stimulation treatment was developed to examine the effects of auditory and tactile stimuli on bruxism relative to conditions in which no stimuli were available. Results indicated that the function based stimulation intervention produced substantial decreases in bruxism for both participants. A post stimulation evaluation further supported these findings, showing the occurrence of bruxism remained at low levels following the removal of the stimulus, suggesting the application of the stimulation acted as an abolishing operation for bruxism.