Date of Graduation

Spring 2017


Master of Science in Education in Special Education


Counseling, Leadership, and Special Education

Committee Chair

Linda Garrison-Kane


autism, theory of mind, empathy, social story, comic strip conversations

Subject Categories

Special Education and Teaching


Recent research supports the idea that children with ASD express less empathetic responding than typically developed children. However, limited studies have focused on the utilization of evidence-based practices to teach these skills. In this study, a multiple baseline design across three participants diagnosed with autism was implemented to assess the efficacy of digital comic strip conversations, which include answering comprehension questions and engaging in role-play, to teach verbal and non-verbal empathetic responding. Digital comic strips conversations were developed specifically for the study to depict three emotional domains: happiness or excitement, sadness or pain, and fear in a variety of social contexts. Both verbal and non-verbal empathetic responding were assessed concurrently within the same sessions. Moreover, two different five level rating scales were utilized to code the behavioral response. Upon the introduction of treatments, an increase of empathetic responding was recorded across all three participants, maintaining highest score according to rating scale for the majority of the data points throughout the intervention phase. However, the generalization phase of both verbal and non-verbal response conveyed inconsistent results across participants. Further research is needed to assess complementary treatment modalities as well as evaluating factors underlying generalization difficulties of skills for individuals with autism that are acquired in clinical practice.


© Khalifah Sami Aldughaysh

Open Access