Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Sarah E. Bloom, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Committee Member

Andrew L. Samaha, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Committee Member

Catia Cividini-Motta, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Committee Member

Diana S. Socie, Ph.D., BCBA-D


assessment and treatment, autism spectrum disorder, problem behavior, restricted and repetitive behavior


Higher-order restricted and repetitive behavior includes a rigid adherence to routines and schedules or insistence on sameness or completeness. Some individuals with autism spectrum disorder engage in problem behavior when these higher-order rituals are interrupted. Modifying the trial-based functional analysis to assess problem behavior evoked by the interruption of higher-order rituals might allow therapists and teachers with limited resources to assess this function of problem behavior. In addition, it may mitigate some of the risks associated with the traditional functional analysis. Thus, the first purpose of the current study was to evaluate the use of the trial-based functional analysis to assess problem behavior associated with ritual interruption. After identifying the function of problem behavior, one empirically-validated treatment is functional communication training. However, it is important to thin the schedule of reinforcement for functional communication responses following functional communication training because it is impractical and sometimes impossible to reinforce every functional communication response. Thus, the second purpose of the current study was to evaluate if a multiple schedule is an effective way to decrease the schedule of reinforcement rapidly while maintaining low levels of problem behavior. We found that the trial-based FA correctly identified the presence or absence of a rituals function of problem behavior in all five subjects. In addition, the multiple schedule was effective with all four of our subjects that had a rituals function.