Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Richard W. Malott

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Peterson

Third Advisor

Dr. Ron Van Houten

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Steven Ragotzy


developmental disabilities, autism, Mand, tact, automatic reinforcement, direct reinforcement


Several researchers have used stimulus-stimulus pairing (the pairing of speech sounds with established reinforcers) to increase the frequency of specific vocalizations in children with disabilities. However, only a few addressed the utility of stimulus-stimulus pairing to increase functional language, and none combined stimulus-stimulus pairing and direct reinforcement. The present study combined stimulus-stimulus pairing and direct reinforcement to successfully teach 2 to 10 functional mands in 21–49 7-minute sessions with four children with developmental disabilities with low verbal repertoires. Following mand training, two children were taught 10 tacts for pictures using the combined direct reinforcement and stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure in a maximum of 38, 10-trial sessions. After both mand and tact training, the children’s responding generalized outside of training sessions, in novel locations and with novel instructors.


Fifth Advisor: Dr. Timothy Weil

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access