Date of Award

Summer 8-14-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Programs

Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Kevin C. Luczynski

Abstract

Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder commonly exhibit deficits in social skills, which can lead to a lack of friendships (Howlin, 2003) and underemployment (Shattuck et al., 2012). We selected social skills based on a parent interview and a direct assessment of three individuals’ conversation and greeting deficits. We taught the conversation and greeting skills using behavioral skills training and within-session prompting. We assessed generalization of the conversation and greeting skills across unfamiliar conversation partners and maintenance over time. We obtained parent responses on the social acceptability of their child’s social skills. A multiple baseline design across behaviors was used to demonstrate experimental control over the effects of the teaching procedures on skill acquisition and generalization to novel adults. The teaching procedures produced robust acquisition, maintenance, and generalization for all participants. The results provide initial support for an individualized assessment and intervention process in addressing social-skills deficits during unscripted conversations and greetings.

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