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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Kenneth Beauchamp

First Committee Member

Jean Gonsier-Gerdin

Second Committee Member

David Wilder


Lovaas' model of comprehensive discrete trial therapy for children with autism has been at the center of much controversy and criticism due to its use of negative verbal feedback. However, there is no empirical evidence as to the consequences of removing negative feedback. Thirty children were randomly assigned to two groups, one which received discrete trial therapy with negative feedback and one which did not. Measures of the cumulative number of object labels learned, the number of trials required for the children to reach criterion for each object label, and the number of maladaptive behaviors displayed were compared between groups. Results showed a trend towards negative feedback increasing the number of labels learned ( F = 2.94, p = .10), no significant results for the number of trials to reach criterion, and a significant decrease in the number of maladaptive behaviors ( F = 5.32, p = .03) when children were given negative feedback. Thus, while some practitioners may still have reservations about the use of negative feedback, the results of this study may indicate that discrete trial therapy for children with autism is not as effective without it.




9780599689169 , 0599689161

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