Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Graduate School

Major Professor

Julia Ogg, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Heather Agazzi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


Parent involvement, challenging behavior, early childhood, evidence-based intervention


The present study examined the effectiveness of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy in improving the behavioral outcomes in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Using a non-concurrent multiple baseline design with four mother-child dyads, the study determined the impact of PCIT on the frequency and severity of young children’s challenging behaviors, mothers’ positive parenting practices, and mothers’ satisfaction with treatment. Outcome measures included the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory, Child Behavior Checklist, Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System, and Therapy Attitude Inventory. Results from visual analysis and hierarchical linear modeling indicated a treatment effect for mothers’ use of labeled praises (b = 14.79, p = 0.01), reflections (b = 9.93, p < .0001), and behavior descriptions (b = 13.13, p = 0.01). Mothers conveyed high levels of satisfaction with PCIT and reported improvements in their relationship with their child, as well as in their child’s major behavior problems and compliance. Children’s challenging behaviors declined in frequency and severity; however, these decreases were not statistically significant. The findings of this study indicate that PCIT improves mothers’ parenting practices and is a highly satisfactory treatment for mothers of children with ASD. Future studies should incorporate measures specific to ASD symptoms and measures of challenging behaviors from multiple caregivers, such as teachers. Studies should also employ more rigorous statistical methods to determine the average length of treatment required to reduce challenging behaviors in children with ASD.