Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Joseph R. Scotti
Kennon A. Lattal
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are disorders characterized by repetitive and stereotyped behavior. Research shows that these behaviors interfere with typical development and with the acquisition of new skills, including vocal communication. For many children with ASD who are unable to imitate others and who have limited vocal repertoires, few vocal training interventions are available. Research on operant variability, however, indicates that the direct reinforcement of varied sounds may create a larger set of vocal responses. This enlarged response class could then be used to shape functional vocal communication. In the first of three studies, the existing vocal repertoires of 10 children with ASD were assessed for level of variability within vocalizations and for phoneme production. Three children with moderate to low vocal variability then were exposed to lag schedules of reinforcement. All participants produced new phonemes under these conditions, but novel vocalizations increased for only one. The final study investigated whether this increased variability could be maintained when exposed to reinforcement delivered independent of variability (i.e., yoked control). Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Tetreault, Allison Serra, "Vocal Variability in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Assessment and Intervention to Increase Novel Vocalizations in Non-Verbal Children" (2012). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 187.