Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Richard Malott

Second Advisor

Sarah N. Lichtenberger

Third Advisor

Samantha Moberg


Escape maintained behavior, intervention


Tantrums and non-compliant problem behaviors challenge children diagnosed with autism’s progress in early childhood special education classrooms by interfering with the child’s learning opportunities. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder causing abnormal or impaired development in social interactions and communication (DSM-IV, 1994). This paper looks at a single case on a preschool aged child diagnosed with autism exhibiting tantrums and problem behaviors. These tantrums and non-compliant problem behaviors included kicking, scratching, screaming, hitting, flopping on to the floor or eloping (leaving the table, chair or work area). One study conducted showed that activity choice intervention decreases the occurrence of problem behavior while increasing the occurrence of compliant behaviors (Kern et al. 1998). Evidence from this study suggests that choice making is an effective intervention across many situations and could be generalized to affect behavior of all humans. Another study conducted by Dr. S. Peterson suggested that choice-making decreased problem behavior in a 10-year-old boy diagnosed with autism. A study conducted on two participants showed that choice-making conditions increased task engagement and reduced disruptive behaviors in both participants (Dunlap et al. 1994). Activity choice and extinction intervention were chosen based off of these findings as an effective way of decreasing problem behaviors in our participant.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Thesis_PP.pdf (912 kB)