Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

James Todd

Committee Member

Renee Lajiness-O’Neill

Committee Member

Thomas Waltz


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction, communication, and excessive ritualistic and repetitive behavior. Numerous treatments for autism devised over the last half-century have proven ineffective, or have never been scientifically evaluated. Despite the state of the research, the most demonstrably effective treatment, Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), has been a target of much criticism, including accusations of being too intense. A large number of learning trials in relatively short periods of time supposedly induce children to have disordered stress responses. To explore the intensity of EIBI, behavior samples from children engaging in EIBI and typical children engaging in everyday activities were gathered and coded for rates of behavior. Operational definitions of what constituted a single behavioral interaction were developed, and those samples were used to calculate behavior rates. The results suggest that the rate of behavior exhibited by typical children exceeds the rate of behaviors in early intensive behavioral therapy, by a factor of two to three. Simply put, EIBI is generally not nearly as behaviorally intense as are ordinary child activities, and thus this dimension of EIBI is unlikely to be a precipitant for disordered stress responses.

Included in

Psychology Commons