2016: Stephanie Smothermon

University of Houston-Clear Lake

Stephanie Smothermon is in her final year of the master’s program in behavior analysis at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She is completing her thesis project, “Teaching Children With ASD to Talk About Private Events,” under the supervision of her faculty advisor, Dr. Sarah Lechago. A multiple-baseline across participants design will be employed to examine the effects of motivating operation (MO) manipulations, echoic prompts, and a card exchange. Specifically, three private events will be targeted: (1) thirst, (2) hunger, and (3) boredom. The MO will be contrived (e.g., salty foods—thirst, food deprivation—hunger, 10 minutes of barren environment—boredom), and echoic prompts will be used to teach participants to answer questions (e.g., “Do you feel hungry?” → “Yes, I feel hungry”). After training the intraverbal (answering questions about states of deprivation), the experimenter will offer choices of food, drink, and an activity via picture card selection to verify the presence of the putative relevant MO. Control conditions in the form of states of satiation will be interspersed to ensure appropriate responding under the influence of each MO. Results of this study will make contributions to the technology related to teaching individuals with language deficits to talk about private events, as well as to the conceptual analysis of verbal behavior, private events, and MOs.


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