Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education


Special Education

First Committee Member

Thomas B. Pierce, Chair

Second Committee Member

Susan Miller

Third Committee Member

David Grant

Graduate Faculty Representative

Randy Astramovich

Number of Pages



Teaching communication skills to children with autism is a primary concern because speech and/or language delay characterize autism. One method of teaching verbal communication skills to children with autism is script fading.

This study examined the effects of teaching children with autism to exchange information to peers about objects and pictures using script fading. Six children with autism were recruited from a special program for children with autism at a public elementary school. Participants were formed into dyads that remained intact throughout the study. Two dyads consisted of first grade students, one dyad consisted of a second and a fifth grade student. Prior to the study participants were screened for minimum reading and language skills using the Woodcock-Johnson III Letter-Word Identification and Passage Comprehension subtests; and theExpressive One Word Picture Vocabulary Test and Receptive One Word Picture Vocabulary Test.

In a multiple baseline across participants design students were taught to exchange information about objects using script fading. Later, a script about pictures was introduced and the two scripts were taught in a rapidly alternating fashion. The frequency of scripted and unscripted statements, and non-responses were measured. Scripts were faded in five steps. In the last step only the conversational referents were present. Once scripts were completely faded novel objects and pictures were introduced; all participants demonstrated generalization.

Results show that script fading had an effect on scripted statements made during intervention. Script fadingdid not have a strong effect on unscripted statements made during intervention. Most unscripted statements that were noted were not elaborations of the scripts. All participants were able to generalize the scripts to novel objects and pictures.

Findings of this study reveal that script fading is effective for teaching children with autism to reciprocate information to peers about objects and pictures. Additionally, script fading is effective for teaching conversational skills that generalize to novel objects and pictures. This study used a parsimonious procedure that can be replicated by general practitioners. Because this study was conducted in a public school it provides support for the effectiveness of script fading with a general population of children with autism.


Autism in children; Autistic children--Means of communication; Facilitated communication; Oral communication


Communication | Special Education and Teaching | Speech and Rhetorical Studies

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




Signatures have been redacted for privacy and security measures.


IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit