Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Corey S. Stocco

First Committee Member

Stephanie Hood

Second Committee Member

Matthew P. Normand


Deficits in conversation skills can be one barrier to developing and maintaining relationships for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals with ASD may deter conversation partners if they do not stay on topic or if they dwell on topics. Several interventions have been identified in targeting the reduction of problematic (off-topic or perseverative) speech, and withheld attention for its occurrence. In addition to leveraging attention as a reinforcer, one study provided signaled access to preferred topics contingent on talking about non-perseverative or therapist-selected topics. Despite showing clear improvements in on-topic speech and stimulus control of preferred topics, little is known about the additive effects of including contingent access to preferred topics. A free operant assessment was used to evaluate participant preference for including access to preferred topics. The results indicated that participants preferred the proposed intervention with access to a leisure item.



Included in

Psychology Commons



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