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Teaching Children with Autism Self-Initiations as a Pivotal Response

Koegel, Lynn Kern PhD; Carter, Cynthia M. PhD; Koegel, Robert L. PhD

Children and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The purpose of this study was to assess whether children with autism could be taught a child-initiated query as a pivotal response to facilitate the use of grammatical morphemes. Data were collected within the context of a multiple baseline design across two children who lacked the use of temporal morphemes. Results of the study indicated that both children learned the self-initiated strategy and both acquired and generalized the targeted morpheme. Additionally, generalized use of the self-initiation into other question forms and concomitant increases in mean length of utterance, verb acquisition, and diversity of verb use occurred for both children. These generalized effects and the applications of this procedure across linguistic targets are discussed.

University of California, Santa Barbara

Corresponding author: Robert L. Koegel, Counseling/Clinical/School Psychology Clinic, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9490. E-mail:

This research was supported in part by PHS research MH28210 from the National Institute of Mental Health and by US Department of Education grant 5830-257-LO-B. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Paul Yoder for his advice contributing to the design of the intervention program of this study. We would also like to thank the undergraduate and graduate students, including Emily Kiedman, Laura Williams, Danny Openden, and Monica Reyes, for their assistance with data collection and analysis. Finally, we are most grateful to the children and their families who participated in this investigation.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins