Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Schmidt, M. H. (2019).Tempt-Trigger-Transfer Approach to Increase Switch-Activated Intentional Communication for a Child with Complex Communication Needs: A Single-Case Research Study.Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Margaret Schmidt 2019.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the tempt-trigger-transfer approach (Cress, Lien et al., 2017) in developing intentional communication acts in a preintentional communicator through the use of a head-activated switch. The intervention pulls from previous interventions for preintentional communicators, including the use of favored activities and the focus on requests. The study investigated whether intentional communicative acts functioning as request could be taught using a round of a favored activity (the temptation) to either “trigger” the desired act (activation of the switch) or allow the examiner to “transfer” the spontaneously-produced behavior to a switch activation. “John,” the three-year-old participant, had complex communication needs due to significant motor and cognitive delay and was labeled a preintentional communicator based on the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales (Wetherby & Prizant, 2003). A multiple baseline design, using three different conditions (temptations) was used. Although highly variable, the tempt-trigger-transfer approach was successful in increasing “John’s” percentage per session of independent activations (interpreted as requests) and attempted activations of the switch as a trigger for another round of the temptation, during the intervention and maintenance (return-to-baseline) phases, as well as in a generalization phase with a novel temptation. Independent activations of the switch during the temptation (interpreted as comments) increased slightly from baseline levels, but with less consistency than during the trigger. The intervention offers a systematic and adaptable approach for teaching intentional communicative acts in preintentional communicators using previous interests as temptations.