Date of Award

Spring 4-22-2022

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science



Committee Member(s)

Dr. Michele Williams

Dr. Rachelle Yankelevitz

Patricia Eberhardt

Supervising Faculty Member

Dr. Michele Williams


Delays to language acquisition can have negative impacts to a child’s academic and social interactions. Stimulus-stimulus pairing (SSP) is a clinical procedure used to increase vocalizations by early language learners. Alternative interventions to SSP include response contingent pairing (RCP) and operant discrimination training (ODT). The results from previous research in RCP and ODT have limited benefit to clinical applications because verbal approximations were not reinforced, and they did not bring the vocalizations under stimulus control. The present study sought to evaluate the use of RCP and ODT to determine which intervention increased vocalizations. Two children aged 2- and 6-years-old, diagnosed with language delay and autism spectrum disorder, participated in each condition. The results were undifferentiated for both participants. Implications of this research are that some children may not immediately acquire the target vocal response at the start of the intervention. A potential reason why RCP worked for one participant over ODT may have been the response effort involved in ODT. Limitations include a lack of discrimination between conditions, the number of vocalizations presented in each trial, lack of EO, and allowing preferred items in the room. We also note that a lack of social interactions for the 2-year-old may have delayed language acquisition.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, language acquisition, operant discrimination training, response contingent pairing, stimulus-stimulus pairing

Rights Holder

Jade Grimes