Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Richard Malott

Second Advisor

Dr. Howard Farris


A child sits in the corner of the room staring at his hands as he flails them in front of his face. He then gets up and spins in circles compulsively. At three years old he does not have any intelligible speech, the three or four words he learned at two years old long forgotten. He pays little attention to the other children in the room and does not make eye contact with his mother as she picks him up to leave. He has a disorder known as autism. According to Sturmey the prevalence rates of autism range from 2 to 21 per 10,000 children. Even though the range of findings is great, it is not a rare disorder (50). It occurs in boys four times as often as girls (Schreibman, 62). Research on autism attempts to explain the cause of the disorder and also improve ways to identify, diagnose, and treat the disorder. Misconceptions and difficulties in diagnosing autism arise because of the diverse, heterogeneous characteristics of the disorder. The conflicting ideas about etiology also make treatment difficult. Behavior modification is a treatment that focuses on teaching skills without needing to understand the etiology.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only