Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Starr, Elizabeth


Parent-mediated, Pivotal Response Treatment, Question Asking, Short-term, What's that?




In Ontario, parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) report high wait time between diagnosis, referral, determining eligibility, financial cost of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), and an inability to continue ABA programs at home. Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is a naturalistic evidence-based intervention based on the principles of ABA that occurs in the home and targets pivotal behaviours including social initiation. The purpose of this single-subject multiple baseline design study was to investigate whether a brief parent-mediated PRT intervention, conducted in a child’s home environment, would increase the frequency of social initiation through question asking and the frequency of context appropriate questions made by three children with ASD, and whether these results would generalize. Prior to providing PRT to their children, mothers engaged in a total of 12 hours of training (2 two-hour parent training sessions for three weeks). Results support a functional relationship between the behaviour of interest (i.e., social initiation through question asking) and the intervention. Furthermore, the short-term parent-mediated intervention led to a generalization of social initiations to novel items in the home, and/or other family members, and environments beyond those used during intervention for all three children. However, untargeted context appropriate question asking did not increase in frequency. The results of the study have implications regarding the effectiveness of a short-term parent-implemented PRT intervention on the ability to increase the child’s frequency of asking, “What’s that?”.