Spring 2017

Document Type

Master's Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Teacher Education


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can be characterized by social, communication and behavioral challenges, including perseverative speech. Individuals who engage in perseverative speech often have difficulties engaging in appropriate social interactions and perseverative speech can impede learning. Therefore, it is important to identify systems of reinforcement that are able to decrease this behavior. Three students with ASD were selected for this study based on the prevalence of their perseverative speech. A multiple-baseline research design across participants was used to study the effectiveness of using Differential Reinforcement of Lower Rates of Behavior (DRL) in decreasing the frequency of perseverative speech. The results showed a consistent decrease in perseverative speech with one participant, but unstable data during intervention with the second participant. Overall, the average frequency of perseverative speech decreased with the second participant. The third participant was unable to enter the intervention stage due to unstable baseline data. The current study indicates that DRL may be effective in reducing the frequency of perseverative speech for a subset of students with ASD.