Thursday, August 13. 2009

Helping Children with Autism Recall School Events

Posted under: School

As the school year approaches (and in some cases, begins) parents across the country are vexed with the same question: How do I find out what happened in school today?! While typically developing children can be pestered with questions until they finally say more than "nothing" (a use, by the way, of negative reinforcement), many children with autism will struggle to answer such questions. Below is one strategy that has been helpful in teaching children to recall events from school.

Basic Format

At the end of the day, the teacher or teacher's aide asks the student one question about the day (e.g., "What was for lunch in the cafeteria?" "What letter did we talk about today?" "What did you make (in art)?" "What book did we read?"). The student answers the question. If the student cannot answer the question, the teacher prompts an appropriate answer. The teacher writes the question on a note card, with the answer on the back, and indicates if the answer was prompted. When the student goes home, his parents say hi, take the note card out of his backpack, and ask that question.

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Wednesday, August 27. 2008

Behavior Plans in School Settings

Posted under: School

By Vince LaMarca, M.A., BCBA, Editor
Lovaas Institute - Indianapolis

As every teacher and paraprofessional knows, behavior challenges that arise at school cannot always be approached the same way they are handled at home. Some strategies available at home are difficult to implement at school. For example, ignoring a tantrum at school can make it difficult for other children to concentrate. Equally, the school setting may not be suitable for incorporating the same types of reinforcement that have been effective with a child at home. Although not all strategies used in the home setting can be applied to the school environment, the same thought process used in home behavioral treatment programs may be used to find effective solutions in the classroom. Below are six key steps to determining an effective behavior intervention.

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Friday, May 9. 2008

Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism in the News

Posted under: School

I seldom see a newspaper article about a child learning to read through the use of phonics. I guess that’s not surprising. Most people know that phonics is an effective method to teach someone to read. There’s nothing that makes it especially interesting enough to make the news. As Autism Awareness month ends, I noticed that I seldom saw newspaper articles about children with autism learning new skills through behavioral treatment. Most articles or TV coverage I saw focused on the latest medication, diet, or novel intervention that has made a big difference in one child’s life. Again, I guess that’s not surprising.

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Monday, April 28. 2008

Utilizing ABA in Extracurricular Activities

Posted under: School

Jennifer LaMarca
ovaas Institute - Indianapolis

Programs for children with autism utilizing the Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis typically require a minimum of 6-12 months of one-to-one in-home teaching in order to teach the child the prerequisite skills they need to partake in a group setting. As many of the children progress from basic to more advanced and complex learning programs they are gradually integrated into group settings in their local communication and the teaching procedures become less structured.

While the school setting is one of the most important group environments we want the children to learn and thrive in, there are other groups that may function either as stepping stones to ease a child's transition to the school environment or as extra curricular activities for a child already in school. Such group activities include, but are not limited to, gymnastics, soccer, Gymboree and Kindermusic, library, zoo, and museum classes. When a child is enrolled in any such group activity, we recommend that an instructor from the in-home program accompany the child to help facilitate the transition to group routines and instructions, promote generalization of skills acquired at home to the new environment, and to encourage interaction with other children.

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By Vince LaMarca, M.A., BCBA, Editor
Lovaas Institute - Indianapolis

As many teachers know, keeping appropriate data on a skill is not as easy as it seems. On one hand, data needs to be collected in order to track a child's progress. On the other hand, data collection cannot be so overwhelming as to interfere with teaching a child. Below are some tips, based on data collections strategies used at the Lovaas Institute, as well as some examples of basic data collection forms.

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By Vince LaMarca, M.A., BCBA, EditorLovaas Institute - Indianapolis

Play scripts are often an important component in teaching creative and spontaneous pretend play. Some people mistakenly believe that scripted responses result in robotic play however, research data indicate that scripted responses often serve as stepping-stones to spontaneous statements. For example, in 2001 Sarokoff, Taylor, and Poulson taught children with autism to engage in conversational exchanges using scripts that were faded over time. The children continued to engage in scripted conversation after the scripts had been removed, but they also added a number of unscripted spontaneous statements.1

Play scripts can be short or long, based on a child's current skills. Typically, the script starts out in a short form that the child can quickly learn. Once a child is successful with the interactions in the short script, additions are made to facilitate spontaneous and creative responses during the play.

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Thursday, February 28. 2008

IEP Tips To Help Your Child with Autism

Posted under: School

By Vince LaMarca, M.A., BCBA, Editor
Lovaas Institute - Indianapolis

Springtime means IEP time in a lot of school districts. As a behavioral consultant, I've had my fair share of IEP meetings that have gone smoothly and those that have been contentious. Often there are controversies surrounding the services a child should receive. Both parents and school personnel feel strongly about their position and coming to a consensus can seem impossible. However, I've also found that there are a number of critical areas that make it more or less likely parents will be willing to listen to what the school district has to offer. Here are common requests I hear from parents about IEP meetings.

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Tuesday, February 19. 2008

5 Important Recommendations for Teachers

Posted under: School

By Vince LaMarca, M.A., BCBA, Editor
Lovaas Institute - Indianapolis

After presenting a thoughtful, highly educational overview of strategies and principles of applied behavior analysis that are often utilized with children with autism, one of the teachers in the audience brought me back to earth with this comment, "I don't have time to get a degree in ABA, but I like a lot of the ideas that you talked about in your presentation. If you had to remove all the theoretical talk and could only give me the 5 most practical and specific things to do that would probably increase a child's success in school, what would you say?"

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Monday, January 21. 2008

5 Common Mistakes Made by the School Aide

Posted under: School

By Vince LaMarca, M.A., BCBA, Editor
Lovaas Institute - Indianapolis

When Tyler entered first grade, his parents and teachers had high hopes that he would be able to participate in the classroom with little intervention. However, his parents insisted that a 1:1 aide initially accompany him and then gradually be faded. The school staff opposed the idea on the grounds that a 1:1 aide made the environment more restrictive and they wanted to use the least restrictive environment possible. His parents countered that while it may be reasonable to expect him to be independent over time, they couldn't just throw him into a new school situation without any support. That would be setting him up for failure. A compromise was finally reached in which he would be provided with a 1:1 aide, but the school would use one of it's existing aides rather than hire an instructor who had worked with Tyler in his behavioral treatment program utilizing the Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis.

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