Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Daniel M. Fienup

Committee Members

Emily A. Jones

Nancy S. Hemmes

Caio F. Miguel

Anna I. Petursdottir

Subject Categories

Applied Behavior Analysis | Experimental Analysis of Behavior


attention, autism, intraverbal, motivating operations, social reinforcement, tact


This study examined the effects of presession attention on the acquisition of tacts (Experiment 1) and intraverbals (Experiment 2) in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. There were 3 conditions in each experiment. In the first 2 conditions, the experimenter first exposed the participants to a 15-min interval of either presession attention (PA) or no presession attention (NPA), then immediately conducted a teaching session. The third condition was a control condition, which involved no pressession interval or teaching procedures. The consequence for emitting tacts and intraverbals consisted of different forms of attention (e.g., praise and clapping). Across experiments, all participants acquired the tacts and intraverbals assigned to the NPA condition, whereas only four of the six participants acquired the tacts and intraverbals assigned to the PA condition. Five of the six participants required fewer sessions to criterion and a shorter cumulative duration of training for the tacts and intraverbals assigned to the NPA condition as compared to the PA condition. The percentage of errors per condition was idiosyncratic across participants. An assessment of controlling variables confirmed that the newly acquired responses functioned as tacts or intraverbals, respectively. These outcomes suggest that antecedent manipulations traditionally reserved for mand training can positively affect the acquisition of other verbal operants, and support the notion that there are unconditioned motivating operations associated with attention.