Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Instr and Curr Leadership


Special Education

Committee Chair

Dr. James Meindl

Committee Member

Dr. Laura Casey

Committee Member

Dr. Neal Miller

Committee Member

Dr. Jeremy Whitney


Social Stories are narratives written to explain a social situation, social skill, or concept to individuals with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis or developmental disabilities. Although the main goal of a Social Story is to increase the individual's understanding of the targeted situation, skill, or concept, this intervention is implemented to increase appropriate behaviors and decrease inappropriate behaviors. Researchers have investigated the efficacy of Social Stories when applied to both increasing appropriate and decreasing inappropriate behaviors. Results to date have been contradictory both supporting Social Stories and showing the intervention to be ineffective. These conflicting results could be related to many procedural variations across studies. Additionally, few studies conducted either a functional analysis or functional behavior assessment prior to implementing a Social Story intervention when attempting to decrease behavior. This may also contribute to the contradictory evidence. It is possible, for example, that a Social Story could possibly serve as an abolishing operation for attention maintained inappropriate behaviors. By providing attention prior to the emission of the attention maintained inappropriate behavior, the value of attention could decrease and the likelihood that the individual will engage in the behavior that produces attention could decrease. This might suggest a Social Story was effective when it was the noncontingent provision of attention that produced the effect. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a Social Story could serve as an abolishing operation for attention maintained inappropriate behaviors if read prior to a situation in which the individual would likely engage in the target behavior. Five participants were identified as engaging in inappropriate behaviors that were possibly maintained by attention. The participants were exposed to reversal designs manipulating the temporal location of the Social Story. The latencies of the targeted behaviors were measured from a specific directive to the emission of the behavior. The initially short latencies of the target behaviors were increased for only one participant, but it is unclear what variable was responsible for this change. For the other four participants, latencies varied greatly with no discernable patterns across conditions. These findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.