Date of Award

Fall 12-11-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Applied Behavior Analysis


Education Studies


Lauren Goodwyn, PhD

Committee Member

Frank Cicero, PhD

Committee Member

Tara Harrington-Vigh, M.S. Ed


ASD, behavior, children, communication, generalization, independent, play, socialization


A myriad of evidence-based practices has been effective in teaching independent play skills to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These interventions include video modeling, activity schedules, task correspondence training, task organization, individual work systems, and matrix training. This systematic review is aimed at examining the various behavioral interventions used to teach independent play skills to children and adolescents with ASD as the independent play literature will be evaluated to see if generalization was programmed for and assessed within the study. As one of the main dimensions of behavior analysis, generalization of skills, specifically independent play skills, is important to examine as a valuable characteristic of the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Generalization of independent play skills is essential for a child’s development and overall well-being. Independent play refers to a child’s ability to engage in play and activities without constant adult supervision or direct involvement. When these skills are generalized, it means the child can apply them across various settings, toys, and situations. The PRISMA program was used to screen potential articles for inclusion in the review. The final analysis included seven articles that met the predetermined inclusionary and exclusionary criteria. Six out of the seven included articles demonstrated generalization to either novel environments, people, or objects. More specifically, three out of the seven articles both programmed for and assessed for generalization. Similarities existed amongst the studies in that most generalized to new environments. Future research should continue investigating the benefits of the acquisition of independent play skills and how well these skills generalize to various stimuli so that these skills can transfer across new conditions.