Tag Archives: autism behavior

You say “toMAYto” and I say “toMAHto”

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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month.  Speech and Language Pathologists like to use this month to educate and teach others more about what we do and how to better ourselves as clinicians.  As an SLP, we work with many therapists OT, PT and BCBAs. Many of us use the same vocabulary and many terms can differ. As an SLP working in a team with BCBAs it is vital to know what we are all talking about! I could say “toMAYto” and a BCBA could say, “toMAHto,” but we really just want to get along and understand each other! We came together and created a vocabulary list to better understand each other.
Here are some of the common terms we both use and how we really are meaning the same thing!
Some of the common speech terms that overlap with BCBA terminology is listed. The Speech term is first then the ABA term:  Requesting-Manding, Labeling-Tacting, Imitation- Echoic, and Fill in- intra-verbal. Knowing these basic terms will help the SLP and BCBA and ABA therapist to understand each other. We may speak different languages but we are all trying to come together and work as a team to get the same result.
— Hannah Trahan, MS CCC-SLP & Nicole LeMaster, MA BCBA

SLP Term Translation
Label Tact
Request Mand
Imitation Echoic
Fill in Intraverbal Fill in
Open ended question Intraverbals
Non-verbal Non-vocal
Code switch a different means of interacting with people based on your learning history with them. Ex: the way you talk with friends vs. the way you talk with co-workers
Motor planning being able to complete the steps necessary to do an activity. Being able to move your body to get the job done.
Articulation Speech sounds
Executive functioning Problem solving
Therapy of mind Perspective taking
Central coherence ability to focus on details as well as the whole picture
AAC Alternative Augmentative Communication
Fluency smooth, rhythmic, effortless speech
Dysfluency stuttering
Syntax grammar
Semantics word meaning
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Why Changing a Child’s Team is a GOOD thing

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Throughout the course of a child’s treatment with any ABA provider, one thing should be a constant: therapist changes happen. Frequently.

And understandably, this tends to be a difficult adjustment for both our kiddos and their families! In order to continuing developing the best team possible, there are occasionally team changes as a result of professional growth and career advancement, however, it’s important to recognize that team changes do not solely occur because staffing dictates; as an ABA provider, our ultimate goal is to ensure that your child receives the absolute best quality treatment, and one element of providing a well-rounded ABA program is therapist change.

Why?

There are a multitude of benefits to changing therapists, however, we’re going to focus on two: generalization of skills and functional relationship building.

Requiring a learner to be able to respond to new therapists is an important, often under-utilized form of teaching generalization. While learning a new skill with a specific therapist is an amazing accomplishment for a child, it is equally important to ensure that skills taught aren’t just generalized across different environments, but across different people as well.  For instance, a child may return a greeting daily to the therapists that have been teaching them this skill for 6 months, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that, if a novel persons says ‘Hi,’ the response they’ve learned with their typical therapist will generalize.

In addition to generalization, building relationships with and responding to novel people regularly will help set up your child for success in the future. In school, work, or other standard day-to-day activities, we are expected to be able to form and cultivate relationships with new people. Whether it’s a new teacher, a new boss, a new neighbor, a new babysitter or family member, being able to and confident in responding to new faces is always beneficial to a child.

In the end, we understand that therapist changes can be a difficult adjustment for everyone involved, but the benefits of regular team changes will only help children to meet their goals.

Topics in ABA: Experience Trumps Credentials

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Over the past 10 years the number of BCBA’s has grown from approximately 2,500 in 2005, to close to 20,000 in 2015.  This growth is partially due to the increase in availability of certification programs in the field of behavior analysis. Although there is a growing need for behavior analysts, many students have been entering degree programs with little or no experience working in the field of ABA and a limited knowledge of what a behavior analyst actually does.

As professionals who have supervised and taught in certification programs our experience has been that the most successful students are those that have a background in ABA and have had the opportunity to demonstrate those principles in the natural environment (for our sake, with kids with autism). We have unfortunately witnessed unsuccessful students and a common denominator is typically jumping into a certification program without truly understanding the roles and responsibilities of a BCBA.

As a behavior analyst you have the ability to change behavior! We can make a huge difference in the life of a child with autism and their family; this is something that should not be taken lightly. This is why we are dedicated to not hire or promote individuals because of their credentials, but instead due to their experience and proven ability to be effective at what they do.

Chrissy Barosky M.Ed BCBA, & Danielle Pelz, MS BCBA

Topics in ABA: The Missing ‘A’ in ABA

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What truly sets us apart from most other providers is much simpler than one would expect- that is, a developed team of Behavior Analysts whose sole, full-time responsibility is to ensure clinical programs are designed to the highest quality.

The increased rate of autism diagnosis has led to a concurrent increase in providers claiming to provide efficacious treatment.  One way of keeping up with demand has been by creating a model of provision in which application can be easily replicated, from one client to the next.

The model looks something like this: 1) Assessment (typically a behavior analytic assessment such as the VB-MAPP); 2) Language and behavior programming 3) Application of the program through therapy and 4) Data collection.  What results is a set of rules, and providers develop only the skills necessary to follow those rules. Unfortunately, throughout this process, and particularly after data collection, not much “analysis” is done at all.  What is lost when services take on these characteristics is the 2nd “A” in ABA, …the most important part of what makes ABA effective in first place.

Within the community of behavior analysts, we identify these services as “Applied Behavior”.  And most providers do not even realize they are doing it.

In our October newsletter, we discussed the movement within our organization towards a more systematic and thorough system of measurement.  Measurement is the key to effective behavior analysis, as it allows our BCBA’s to identify patterns of behavior change, or trends, and to make decisions about our kids learning.  Through these data sets, and the patterns identified, Consultants and BCBA’s learn from their clients, and the analysis and effectiveness of programming grows exponentially.

We are taking this focus on Analysis a step further.  Our entire team will receive will receive extensive training in the upcoming year on how to analyze data and behavior as it occurs throughout a session.  This includes everyone from the Consultants to the Therapists. We will be trained to analyze client’s learning, minute by minute, and make decisions about what to do differently to ensure that learning does not have to “sit and wait” for our consultants to see change is needed.  All therapists will receive intense training on their own decision-making, and data will show that our therapist’s decisions are in line with our highest skilled BCBA’s.  We look forward to striving to be the BEST!

Laura and Liz 

Topics in ABA: Assent Withdrawl

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Consent- n. permission or agreement to do something.

In clinical practice, we know and value consent as an ethical requirement for treatment. We always make sure that the parents of our clients understand the treatment, the risks and benefits, and agree to services. What about the kids, the direct clients we serve though? It is their right to agree to treatment as well, and often times our clients are too young, or don’t have the skills to provide us with their consent. In these situations, they do have the ability to provide us with their assent.

Assent- n. the expression of approval or agreement.

We would all agree that happy learners are much easier to teach, and make more progress when happy.  A child who shows up to the table, or complies easily with directions makes more progress than those who struggle in these areas. Gaining assent of our clients demonstrates a respect for their opinion, as well as ensures our kids are at their best during each teaching moment.  When a child withdraws assent, it can be something as simple as not attending to instructions, “spacing out”, or it can be more clear- tossing the materials off the table. Either way, the child is communicating to us that something is not right. It is important that they are heard, and their withdrawal should function to us as clinicians to make changes to the intervention, and most importantly to capture the teaching opportunity to improve our client’s self advocacy skills.

Moving forward, we will be improving our training and understanding of Assent Withdrawal, always looking out for what is best for our kids!

Liz Lefebre, MA BCBA 

Vice President of Programming and Strategy

Gross motor activities to keep your kids active this summer

Gross motor activities for kids are incredibly important in the development of their gross motor skills. As school wraps up, you may find yourself with kiddos who have tremendous amounts of energy to burn this summer! These seven gross motor activities for autistic children  include activities that improve social skills while improving gross motor development. These skills are good for kids with autism but can easily be adapted to be fun for their siblings or peers!

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1. Jump on a Trampoline

Around here, the trampoline is a highly preferred activity for many of our kids with autism. Bouncing offers excellent sensory input that can be helpful in alleviating sensory overload. If you don’t have access to a trampoline at home, places like Flipzone in Plainfield and Skyzone in Fishers can be a fun day trip. If well supervised, jumping on a bed can also provide satisfaction!

2. Play Ball

Sometimes, simple activities that other kids can master easily might be very challenging for kids with autism. Catching the ball may not be realistic as a beginning step but you can work your way up that over time. Begin by rolling a ball back-and-forth with the kiddo. This simple task develops important eye tracking skills and it can encourage motor planning as the child follows the movement of the ball. Other activities include:

  • Kicking the ball
  • Learning to dribble
  • Bouncing on a ball
  • Tossing a ball into a net or target

3. Balancing

Balancing can also be very challenging for kids on the autism spectrum and many gross motor tasks require a sense of balance. Test to see if the kiddo can stand motionless with her eyes closed without losing balance to gauge how much work is necessary to develop balancing skills. You can start by using painter tape on the floor or a practice balance beam for them to follow. Balancing see-saws or playing hopscotch can also be fun for kids practicing this skill.

4. Bicycles and Tricycles

Riding bikes can help develop kiddos with balance as well as developing leg muscles. Bikes and trikes can be adapted to kiddos to make riding them easier. Indy Area Ambucs can answer questions or help find bikes appropriate for kiddos. Who doesn’t love biking on a summer afternoon? Don’t forget to outfit kids with protective helmets and other equipment 🙂

5. Pretend Play

Participating in pretend play is a considerable challenge for kiddos with autism. In some of these activities, kids can benefit from moving around while developing their imaginations. Ideas for pretend play that uses motor skills include:

  • Fly like an airplane
  • Hop like a bunny
  • Play restaurant at snack time
  • Do a crab walk
  • Do a frog jump
  • Slither like a snake
  • Gallop or trot like a horse

6. Dance

 Parents and therapists can use dancing with music to encourage imitation and it can be a great way to teach daily living skills. Dance ideas include:

  • Clean It Up
  • Freeze Dance
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • Wiggle the Sillies Out
  • Hokey Pokey

7. Obstacle Course

In addition to improving gross motor skills, obstacle courses can be a great way to encourage kiddos to follow directions!  The course does not have to be complex to be effective. In fact, parents and therapists can begin with a course consisting of one step and gradually introduce other steps to the activity. Simple ideas for an obstacle course include:

  • Crab walk
  • Frog jump
  • Ball toss
  • Jump rope
  • Limbo bar
  • Walk a line or paint tape design
  • Climb over objects
  • Beanbag toss
  • Crawling through a tunnel or a cardboard box
  • Roll along mats or underneath obstacles obstacle_ladderrun1_l

Tips for grocery shopping with your child with Autism

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Hey parents!  I know grocery shopping with a child on the spectrum can be challenging at times.  Here are a few helpful tips that may help you get your get in and out of the grocery store successfully!

  1. Keep little hands busy from grabbing items outside of the cart by giving your child something to hold onto while in the cart.  It can be a little bag of snacks or a fun toy to play with.

 

  1. Make shopping a game.  Share the list of items with your child.  You can even make a visual list if it will be more helpful for your child to see the pictures of the items you need to find.

 

  1. Set rules and stick to them.  If you don’t follow through with the rules you set, your child will learn your rules don’t need to be followed.

 

  1. Reward good behavior and don’t reward the bad!  If your child is being cooperative, praise your child and deliver other desirable items and activities while you shop.  If your child makes it through the entire shopping trip successfully, reward your child afterwards such as go to the park or get some ice cream.

 

Start with short trips and work up to keep your child successful if shopping trips have a history of being very difficult.  You may need to start with going to the store to purchase only 1 item so that you can get in and out quickly to begin teaching your child how to behave while in the store so that you can get a chance to reward your child for being successful.  Once your child begins to understand how to behave in the store and learns that being cooperative leads to other desirable and fun things, you can gradually begin to increase the number of items on your list and the length of your shopping trip.