Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Benson Schaeffer, PhD

Second Advisor

Jennifer Antick, PhD

Third Advisor

Michel Hersen, PhD, ABBP


Delayed language acquisition is a hallmark feature of autistic disorder. This study examined the rate of language acquisition its effects on disruptive behaviors (stereotypy, mouthing, tantrumming) in a 4-year-old child with autism. The study used a multielement design consisting of a baseline phase followed by alternation between two conditions and a final "best-treatment" phase. The two compared conditions were Total Communication Request Training (TCRT) and Word Request Training (WRT). Results identified TCRT as the best treatment for this child due to a faster rate of acquisition. No changes in problem behaviors occurred as language acquisition increased. The complex interaction between language instruction and acquisition, disruptive behaviors, and environmental conditions are discussed. Limitations to the study are discussed.