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. Steve Ragotzy


Pain, chronic pain, back, neck, depression, anxiety


Poor or no language skills are typical of most preschool children with autism (American Psychological Association, 2013). Language can be divided into the two components of receptive, or listener, skills and expressive, or speaker, skills. Recommendations for sequencing language instruction vary across the different behavior-analytic instructional models (Lovaas, 1981; Barbara & Rasmussen, 2007; Sundberg & Partington, 1998; Sundberg, 2008). The current study sought to examine those recommendations using young children (three- to four-years-old) with limited vocal repertoires and to explore the acquisition of learning to learn (Harlow, 1949) and naming (Greer & Ross, 2007). This research (1) adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that prior receptive training with visual stimuli does not always facilitate the expressive training with those stimuli, though in some cases it does, (2) suggests that the currently under-studied phenomenon of learning to learn may accelerate learning by children with autism, and (3) the acquisition or existence of the naming skill may be observed as the children learn basic language skills, and naming may be crucial for typical language learning skills seen in typical children.


5th Advisor: Dr. Carmen Jonaitis

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access