Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Alan D. Poling

Second Advisor

Dr. Ronald Van Houten

Third Advisor

Dr. Cynthia Pietras

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Steven Ragotzy


Applied behavior analysis, drug effects, online training, practitioners, psychotropic medications


Many individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) receive multiple therapeutic services in an attempt to supplement behavioral therapy. These services include pharmacological interventions. Two drugs, risperidone (Risperdal) and aripiprazole (Abilify), are FDA-approved to treat “irritability” in children with ASD. Research shows that the effects of risperidone and aripiprazole on irritability varies greatly across treated individuals. Therefore, individualized monitoring and evaluation must be conducted to provide the physician with data to determine if the medication is resulting in desired changes and effects. Certified behavior analysts are trained in data collection and experience high levels of contact with individuals diagnosed with ASD. However, a recent survey indicated that many behavior analytic practitioners lack formal training and knowledge on the impact of psychotropic medications on behavior. The purpose of this study was to examine the utility and acceptability of a brief online training on psychotropic medications. Participants were randomly assigned to an online training with assessment components group or a control group that read relevant material (a chapter). Participants in the training group scored higher on posttest scores than those the control group, and both groups found the trainings to be highly acceptable. The potential significance of this finding and the results of a qualitative analyses of participants’ self-report and self-evaluations regarding their knowledge and competency in monitoring psychotropic medications are discussed, as are the limitations of the study.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access