Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Autism, High School, Pivotal Response Treatment, Question-asking behavior, Sing case design

Major Advisor

Joseph Madaus, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Brandi Simonsen, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Allison Lombardi, Ph.D.

Field of Study

Special Education


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction. These challenges persist into adulthood, which can lead to poor outcomes in postsecondary education, employment, and independent living. Although social skills can be taught, the majority of evidence-based practices addressing social skills deficits have only been tested with young children with ASD. As such, there is an urgent need to test the use of evidence-based practices to teach social skills with older students with ASD. Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is an evidence-based practice that has been used to improve the social and communication skills of children with ASD. However, it has primarily been implemented with young children and in the clinical setting. This concurrent multiple baseline design study across dyads investigated the use of PRT in the secondary school setting with adolescents with ASD. Specifically, it examined the impact of PRT on one aspect of social interaction: question-asking. Education providers (n = 3) were trained to implement PRT with a secondary student with whom they already worked. Results of the study found no functional relation between education provider-implemented PRT and targeted question-asking behavior (i.e., questions beginning with who, what, or where) in secondary students with ASD. In part, this finding was attributed to lack of fidelity of implementation: only one of three education providers was able to achieve the criterion level for fidelity. Nonetheless, two of the students exhibited clear effects. Implications for practice and research, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.

Available for download on Tuesday, February 05, 2019