Date of Award
Master of Science
Behavior Analysis and Therapy
Hirst, Jason M.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) language repertoire development varies greatly amongst each individual especially in one’s ability to understand emotions. One way to increase language development and further understand emotions is through stimulus equivalence. Theis present study examined the effefficacy of a stimulus equivalence training procedure in bringing the recognition of others’ emotions under multiple contextual control, and also evaluated co-occurring changes in the flexibility of participant responses to common questions requiring emotional recognition that is multiply controlled. The procedures were taken from the Promoting the Emergence of Advanced Knowledge Equivalence Module (PEAK-E) to aid in replication both clinically and in research. The results suggest that each of the three participants, all with an autism diagnosis, were able to identify the facial expressions of others when provided with a person and a context (i.e., What face does Person A feel at Location B?). In addition, two of the three participants were able to correctly identify an individual when provided with a context and an emotion (i.e., Who feels Emotion A at Location C?). Results from the flexibility probes throughout the study however indicate that the participants did not demonstrate an increase vin flexible responding following equivalence training. ectiveness of stimulus equivalence under multiple control to promote the emergence of an untrained relation via the PEAK – E Curriculum: Feelings in Context. Three participants diagnosed with autism, between the ages 12 and 17, were directly trained nine relations that established under a specific context a person will make a certain facial expression. Results indicate that all three participants demonstrated mastery in the training condition; however, when tested for equivalence only two of three participants were able to do so.
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