Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Heather Agazzi, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Julia Ogg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


ASD symptoms, challenging behavior, early intervention, evidence-based intervention, parent training


Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience difficulties with social communication and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped behavior patterns that place them at an increased risk for developing challenging behaviors that warrant early intervention (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). These problems are unlikely to decrease without intervention. Research indicates that parents’ involvement in behaviorally based interventions improves the functioning of children with ASD (Horner, Carr, Strain, Todd, & Reid, 2002). . Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (Eyberg & Funderburk, 2011) is an empirically supported intervention for young children with disruptive behaviors. PCIT shares similarities with numerous proven ASD treatments including caregiver involvement, structure and predictable schedule, and the use of behavioral strategies (e.g., positive reinforcement, differential attention). As such, children with ASD are increasingly referred to PCIT. Researchers and clinicians have started to address the use of PCIT for targeting child compliance and social responsiveness in children with ASD. However, there is a need for research on the feasibility of PCIT for children with ASD and barriers to treatment participation for these families. The present study utilized a non-concurrent multiple baseline design with three parent-child dyads enrolled in PCIT to examine the degree of stability and immediacy of effect in caregivers parenting skill use and in patterns of challenging behaviors, ASD symptoms, and expressive communication exhibited by young children with ASD. Due to a significant attrition rate in the study, barriers to treatment participation were also examined. Findings suggested that PCIT improved children’s challenging behaviors and parent’s use of labeled praises.