Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Linda A. LeBlanc

Second Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi

Third Advisor

Dr. Wayne Fuqua

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Amy Matthews


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) often have poor safety skills due to their insensitivity to subtle environmental cues and poor problem solving in the face of stressful tasks. These skill deficits threaten their physical well-being and limit their personal independence. An effective intervention model for teaching safety skills is behavioral skills training (BST). The effects of this 4-part intervention, which includes Instructions, Modeling, Rehearsal, and Feedback, improve with the addition of in situ training. However, creating realistic, safe, and logistically feasible contexts for rehearsal of skills may prove difficult, if not impossible. Virtual reality (VR) may present a solution. Recent studies illustrate that children with ASDs can interact meaningfully within VR, which affords incomparable control for arrangement of environments that best promote learning and generalization. This study sought to evaluate the effects of a partially immersive VR enhanced BST intervention to teach 5 children with ASDs (ages 9-13) safe street-crossing skills. A non concurrent multiple baseline design across participants was used to control for historical and maturational confounds while replicating treatment effects across participants in the virtual environment, and a within subject repeated measures design was used to determine the effects of training on skills in the natural environment. Data indicate mastery of the skill set within the virtual environment for all participants. Additionally, performance improvements were observed from pre-test to post-test in the natural environment, with some participants demonstrating treatment gains following instructions and modeling.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access