The use of specific orienting cues for teaching discrimination tasks

Robert L. Koegel, Glen Dunlap, Gina S. Richman, Kathleen Dyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


A review of the experimental literature and frequent clinical observations suggest that autistic children are frequently unresponsive to necessary cues in complex discrimination tasks. This experiment attempted to remediate this problem by providing preliminary orienting instructions designed to enhance responding to problematic cues reported by the children's therapists. Three autistic children were taught a total of six discrimination tasks in the context of a multiple baseline design. During the baseline condition, which employed common, nonspecific orienting cues such as, "Look at the pictures," or "Pay attention," the children did not evidence acquisition for any of the referred tasks. In the treatment condition, additional orienting instructions were presented which required the children to make overt responses demonstrating that they had oriented to the specific relevant cues (i.e., they verbally labeled these specific cues) prior to responding. In each case, these procedures produced rapid achievement of the acquisition criterion. The results are discussed in terms of understanding and facilitating autistic children's complex discrimination learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
JournalAnalysis and Intervention In Developmental Disablities
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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