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. Carmen Jonaitis


Autism, behavior analysis, imitation, teaching


Some children with autism are unable to acquire imitation despite receiving early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) meant to teach that and other important skills. Many EIBI programs use physical-prompting hierarchies either as a component of the discriminative stimulus or the correction procedure following an error (Lovaas, 1981; Maurice, Green, & Luce, 1996). But even after lengthy exposure to these teaching techniques, some children still do not acquire imitative repertoires. In the present study, working with students who were not acquiring imitative repertoires, we started with shaping the initial imitative responses as a method to gain stimulus control and then introduced physical prompting to establish the other imitative motor responses. The primary differences from common EIBI teaching methods were the initial use of shaping, and also starting with a longer duration of the model’s actions and reducing that over time. Then, antecedent physical prompting was introduced, with considerations for the position of the prompts and response-effort requirements. As a result, all three students acquired a variety of imitative responses and some showed some generalized imitation.


Fifth Advisor: Dr. Steven Ragotzy

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access