Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Rachel Brown

Second Advisor

Mark W. Steege

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Cameron




Although the severity of social communication and social interaction deficits can range significantly in children identified with autism, many children identified with autism fail to develop effective communication repertoires. Many current instructional practices focus on teaching children with autism to communicate with adults, without providing explicit opportunity for the generalization of these communication skills toward their same-age peers. This study evaluated an intervention designed to increase the independent mands of children with autism to same aged peers, within an inclusive pre-school setting. The intervention provided opportunities for children with autism to participate in multiple sessions with peer coaches who had been trained to provide a specific prompt sequence in order to increase the mand behavior of the children with autism. A multiple baseline design was utilized with three children with autism and four peer coaches, over a seven-week period. Results of the study indicate that all three children with autism increased their abilities to mand for a variety of toys from their peers during instructional sessions. In addition, two of the three participants displayed an increase in their ability to independently mand for toys from peers within the natural environment setting (pre-school classroom). These results indicate that children with autism can benefit from efforts to increase their functional language and communication with peers.