Evaluating the Effectiveness of Discrete Trial Procedures for Teaching Receptive Discrimination to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Advisor's Name
Anibal Gutierrez Jr.
First Advisor's Committee Title
Second Advisor's Name
Bethany C. Reeb-Sutherland
Second Advisor's Committee Title
Third Advisor's Name
Leslie D. Frazier
Third Advisor's Committee Title
Fourth Advisor's Name
Fourth Advisor's Committee Title
discrimination training, discrete trial, receptive discrimination, autism, applied behavior analysis
Date of Defense
Research has found that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show significant deficits in receptive language skills (Wiesmer, Lord, & Esler, 2010). One of the primary goals of applied behavior analytic intervention is to improve the communication skills of children with autism by teaching receptive discriminations. Both receptive discriminations and receptive language entail matching spoken words with corresponding objects, symbols (e.g., pictures or words), actions, people, and so on (Green, 2001). In order to develop receptive language skills, children with autism often undergo discrimination training within the context of discrete trial training. This training entails teaching the learner how to respond differentially to different stimuli (Green, 2001). It is through discrimination training that individuals with autism learn and develop language (Lovaas, 2003). The present study compares three procedures for teaching receptive discriminations: (1) simple/conditional (Procedure A), (2) conditional only (Procedure B), and (3) conditional discrimination of two target cards (Procedure C). Six children, ranging in age from 2-years-old to 5-years-old, with an autism diagnosis were taught how to receptively discriminate nine sets of stimuli. Results suggest that the extra training steps included in the simple/conditional and conditional only procedures may not be necessary to teach children with autism how to receptively discriminate. For all participants, Procedure C appeared to be the most efficient and effective procedure for teaching young children with autism receptive discriminations. Response maintenance and generalization probes conducted one-month following the end of training indicate that even though Procedure C resulted in less training sessions overall, no one procedure resulted in better maintenance and generalization than the others. In other words, more training sessions, as evident with the simple/conditional and conditional only procedures, did not facilitate participants’ ability to accurately respond or generalize one-month following training. The present study contributes to the literature on what is the most efficient and effective way to teach receptive discrimination during discrete trial training to children with ASD. These findings are critical as research shows that receptive language skills are predictive of better outcomes and adaptive behaviors in the future.
Sepulveda, Desiree J., "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Discrete Trial Procedures for Teaching Receptive Discrimination to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders" (2015). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1850.
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