Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Psychology (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Lauren Moskowitz

Second Advisor

Mark Terjesen

Third Advisor

William Chaplin


Mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) provide a way for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to self-manage challenging behaviors, which may ameliorate the need for more intensive individual interventions in schools. Using a concurrent multiple baseline design, our study examined whether Meditation on the Soles of the Feet (SoF), a brief MBP, can reduce challenging behavior in children with ASD when delivered by a natural intervention agent in an elementary school setting. Three 9-to-10-year old children with ASD, presenting with high rates of challenging behavior and IQ scores above 85, were recruited from a private special education school. Following baseline data collection, SoF was implemented across five 20-30 minute sessions by the school mental health counselor one-on-one with each student and fidelity of implementation was monitored. Results found that, from pre- to post-treatment, all 3 students showed a significant mean baseline reduction of observed challenging behavior in individually identified problematic contexts, while 1 of 3 showed a decrease in overall teacher-reported challenging behavior on the SESBI-R. Teacher social validity ratings indicated the acceptability, feasibility, and effectiveness of SoF for use in school settings, while 2 of 3 students indicated that the treatment was socially valid. Although teacher-rated overall challenging behavior on the SESBI-R did not consistently decrease, SoF reduced individually-defined observable challenging behavior for each student in specific targeted contexts. Factors contributing to or limiting the effectiveness of SoF with students having ASD and challenging behavior are discussed.