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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Roger Katz

First Committee Member

Kenneth Beauchamp

Second Committee Member

David Wilder


Spontaneous verbal initiations and social interactions are a central deficit of children with autism. This study examined the effects of gradually fading a tactile prompting device, a vibrating pager, as a prompt for children with autism to make verbal initiations during play activities. Three children diagnosed with autism participated in the study. An ABAB withdrawal design was used to evaluate the effect of the prompting device on verbal initiations. During training, the tactile prompt was placed in the children's pockets and they were taught to initiate a verbal interaction (e.g., “Look at this” or “I have [object label]) when the tactile prompt was activated. Once the children responded independently to the tactile prompt in their pocket, they were given access to free-play activities with normally developing peers. The tactile prompting device was then used to prompt children to initiate an interaction with a peer. The results indicated that the tactile prompting device was effective in increasing verbal initiations and decreasing aberrant behavior (e.g., stereotypy) exhibited by the participants. Peers were also more likely to initiate a verbal interaction with the participants during and after the prompting conditions. In addition, for two of the children with autism, verbal initiations remained at high levels once the use of the tactile prompting device was faded.




0493072470 , 9780493072470

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