Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Jessica E. Frieder

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard W. Malott

Third Advisor

Dr. Stephanie M. Peterson

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Despite the growth in a behavioral technology for the treatment of autism, a small population of individuals with autism fails to develop functional language. One procedure used for inducing vocalizations in non-verbal children is a stimulus-stimulus pairing (SSP) procedure. In an SSP procedure a vocalization is paired with a reinforcer over a period of time to establish the vocalization as a learned reinforcer, and any utterance of the target vocalization is believed to be automatically reinforced thus increasing the frequency of the vocalization. Past research has yielded mixed results with the SSP procedure, and more research is warranted to identify the key components of the procedure that are necessary to produce an effect. The current study aims to extend the literature in two ways, by (1) comparing two variations of the SSP procedure; a 5:1 condition in which the target vocalization was emitted five times and presented with one delivery of a reinforcer and a 1:1 condition in which the target vocalization was emitted one time with the delivery of one reinforcer, and (2) comparing the effects of a SSP procedure on the frequency of novel and low frequency vocalization.

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