Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rose, Terry, 1947-

Degree Name

M.S. Ed. (Master of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Learning and Development


Autism; Play therapy


The effects of a multi-component instructional program on the frequency and duration of self-initiated toy-play in two autistic boys were investigated. The subjects were two male Caucasians (9 and 10 years old), who were diagnosed as autistic by independent agencies. The setting for the study was a special self-contained classroom in the midwest. The behavioral program consisted of several components, including modeling, shaping, physical prompts, edible reinforcement, and verbal praise. A multiple baseline design across subjects was employed. Baseline conditions for each subject consisted of language training for 10 minutes followed by 10 minutes of unstructured free-play in a separate play area in the classroom. Baseline lasted for 15 consecutive sessions for Subject 1 and 29 consecutive sessions for Subject 2. Treatment conditions consisted of 10 minutes of training toy-play with eight toys using the instructional program, followed by 10 minutes of unstructured free-play in the same area as in baseline. Treatment consisted of 26 sessions for Subject 1 and nine sessions for Subject 2. Data were collected during the 10 minutes of unstructured free-play. Two classes of toy-play were recorded. One, "trained toys", consisted of eight toys which were included in the behavioral program. Two, "generalized toys", were nine toys that were present in the play area but were not included in the behavioral program. Appropriate toy-play behavior was defined, in part, according to the function and demands of each particular toy. Response definitions for each toy were operationalized. Play with more than one toy of either class was counted as generalized play. Observer reliability was reported. The results were analyzed visually. Three other measures were used to describe the status and change in the data: (a) celerations, (b) midpoints, and (c) ratio multipliers. The results indicated that (a) the subjects exhibited little self-initiated toy-play prior to treatment, (b) both subjects increased their frequency and duration of toy-play with toys that were trained in the instructional program, and (c) generalized toy-play increased slightly for one subject. Limitations of the study as well as implications for future research and teaching were discussed.


Includes bibliographical references.


viii, 87 pages




Northern Illinois University

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