Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jessica E. Frieder

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Peterson

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Mallot

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Baker


Autism, picture exchange communication, imitation


The current literature regarding the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) demonstrates that some individuals diagnosed with autism acquire speech or gain increases in speech during PECS training; however, the current research base has several limitations. There is a lack of research regarding possible explanations for those speech gains, including possible pre-requisite skills for speech acquisition or procedures that can account for speech acquisition. Some research suggests a link between imitation (both motor and vocal) and language acquisition. The current study examined whether individuals with a generalized motor imitative repertoire are more likely to develop speech during PECS training than individuals without a generalized imitative repertoire. This study also served as a replication of a preliminary study. Results of both the preliminary study and current study are compared and discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons