Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Programs

Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Wayne W. Fisher

Abstract

With intraverbal relations, one speaker’s verbal behavior controls another speaker’s verbal behavior. Convergent intraverbals represent a specific type of intraverbal in which multiple components of one speaker’s verbal behavior control a specific verbal response from another speaker (e.g., Speaker 1: what wooly, horned animal lives in the high country? Speaker 2: a mountain goat). Learning intraverbal relations under the control of multiple variables is critical to language, social, and academic development. Sundberg and Sundberg (2011) identified prerequisites that may engender the emergence of novel, convergent intraverbals. We used a multiple-probe design with both nonconcurrent (across participants) and concurrent (across sets of stimuli) components to evaluate the effects of training these prerequisite skills on the emergence of untrained, convergent intraverbals with four children with autism. Participants showed the emergence of novel, convergent intraverbals at mastery levels only after they displayed mastery performance on all of the prerequisite skills identified by Sundberg and Sundberg. We discuss these findings in terms of operant mechanisms that may facilitate the development of generative language.

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