Teaching Individuals to Tact the Intensity of Sensations
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Healthcare professionals frequently ask individuals to use numerical rating scales to rate their pain intensity; therefore, reporting the intensity of private sensations is an important skill. Yet individuals with autism often have difficulty reporting sensations. Using a multiple baseline design across stimulus sets in the pilot experiment and Experiment 1, a multiple probe design across participants in Experiment 2, and a multiple probe design across stimulus sets in Experiment 3, the present study investigated a method of teaching typically developing adults and children and one child with autism to report the intensity of tactile sensations rough, tight, heavy, and temperature. The participants felt the stimuli by hand within a stimulus box; the stimuli were hidden from the participants’ view throughout the study. The participants all mastered the taught intensity tacts; several participants demonstrated generalization to novel, similar stimuli and a novel body part for at least one sensation, but generalization to novel intensities was limited and inconsistent among the participants. Findings suggest that this method may be feasible for use with individuals with autism; implications are discussed.