Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Teaching Paraprofessionals to Implement a Social Communication Intervention for Young Children with ASD

Mrachko, Alicia/A (2015) Teaching Paraprofessionals to Implement a Social Communication Intervention for Young Children with ASD. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB)


Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) frequently lack social communication skills and researchers have developed evidence-based practices to address these deficits. More recently, researchers are examining paraprofessional use of these interventions when working directly with children with ASD. The author completed a review examining studies in which paraprofessionals were taught to implement a social communication intervention with young children with ASD. Researchers in the review studied paraprofessional use of naturalistic behavioral interventions with studies reporting an increase in paraprofessional treatment fidelity for the chosen intervention, and most reporting corresponding improved child outcomes. From this review, the author designed and completed research examining adult behavioral skills training for paraprofessionals in a manualized, naturalistic behavioral social pragmatic intervention from Project ImPACT (Ingersoll & Dvortcsak, 2010). Three Therapeutic Support Staff (TSS) were taught with online modules, in-vivo training and ongoing feedback to use interactive strategies to a predetermined frequency criterion with young children with ASD in the child’s home setting to improve child spontaneous communication. The TSS increased strategy use to criterion quickly with accuracy and generalized the strategies to snack time or the playground. The TSS also sharply decreased their use of questions and demands during playtime. Strategy use continued after intervention. Child spontaneous communication increased in frequency and moved from mostly eye gaze and gestures to eye gaze, vocalizations and a few words. The results indicate that a package combining online modules, in-vivo training plus ongoing feedback is effective in teaching TSS to use social communication strategies during playtime. This study furthers the concept of a target frequency for each strategy within a play session.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mrachko, Alicia/Aaam67@pitt.eduAAM67
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorKaczmarek, Louisekaczmk@pitt.eduKACZMK
Committee MemberKostewicz, Douglasdekost@pitt.eduDEKOST
Committee MemberRobertson, Rachelrachelr@pitt.eduRACHELR
Committee MemberHanden, Benjaminhandenbl@upmc.eduBHANDEN
Committee MemberLemons,
Date: 29 September 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 23 July 2015
Approval Date: 29 September 2015
Submission Date: 29 September 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 157
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Autism, paraprofessional, social communication, naturalistic behavior, feedback, coaching
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2015 19:10
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:42


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item