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Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of Graduate Psychology
Daniel D. Holt
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often demonstrate restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities, often involving preoccupations with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest and an inability to adjust to changes in daily routines and schedules. Academic achievement and skill acquisition present a challenge in children with ASD, often times due to a lack of reinforcer options resulting from these deficits. The current study examines the use of free-operant stimulus preference assessments, progressive-ratio schedule reinforcer analyses, and a Pavlovian conditioning procedure in order to evaluate the establishment of new reinforcers that may be used to increase responding on tasks in children with ASD. The results of the study strongly support the claim that restricted and repetitive patterns of interests and behaviors are prevalent in people with ASD, validating the importance in establishing new reinforcers to be used in the classroom setting. Although other variables may need to be considered, such as pairing schedules and stimulus classes, the data do suggest that changes in stimulus value may be achievable via response-independent conditioning procedures. Furthermore, the results of this study highlight the importance of utilizing each individual assessment in the development and implementation of a conditioning procedure.
Rollman, Kristen, "Establishing conditioned reinforcers in children with autism spectrum disorder" (2015). Masters Theses. 48.