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“Are there any parenting tips to help make my child more independent? How can I help my child do day-to-day tasks without my direct help?”
These questions are not uncommon for parents, especially parents of children with autism. Ideally, parents want their child to be able to do tasks consistently and without constant reminder. So how can you make this possible?
- Make the task as simple as possible: Is the task easy? Are the items needed for the task easily accessible?
- Decrease the amount of effort needed to complete the task: Is the task extensive? Could you do anything to make the task easier for your child to complete?
Let’s say the day-to-day task that you want your child to do independently is brushing her teeth. And right now, there is a stepping stool that she needs to access the medicine cabinet where her toothpaste is located. She has to move the stepping stool in front of the sink every time. Then, she has to reach up and grab the toothpaste to put it on her toothbrush and so on.
So what if you permanently keep the stepping stool in front of the sink so she doesn’t have to move it each time? What if you keep the toothpaste on the counter right by her toothbrush so she doesn’t have to reach for it?
Changing the physical location of the items that your daughter needs to access to complete the task will make it easier for her.
“What if moving the items still does not help your child do the tasks independently?”
Try positive reinforcement! Think to yourself, does your daughter get anything in return for brushing her teeth independently? If she is not completely the task independently and decreasing the difficulty of the task did not work, perhaps you need to reconsider the ‘reward’ she receives for brushing her teeth by herself. Find a reward that motivates her. Will she respond best to a verbal praise? Do you need to reward her with her favorite toy or activity? Finding a positive reinforcement will increase the likelihood of her completing the task independently.
Positive reinforcement is one of the many tactics of ABA therapy. This is one of many strategies utilized by SEED Center employees.
Why is ABA FUN?
ABA focuses on creating goals that are functional to the child. In other words, this means that goals focus on aspects of the child’s day-to-day life that are important to them. So a functional goal for a child who frequently goes to the grocery store with his mother, may be to have him work towards learning how to act appropriately in a store setting.
In addition to functional goals, ABA therapy considers that each child has unique interests. Children all have their preference of food, toys, activities, etc. Therefore, if you find out your child loves watermelon, you maybe able to use this as a reward for good behavior. If you tell your child that they will receive watermelon after completing a homework assignment, they will most likely be motivated to complete the task.
Finally, ABA therapy aims to have children be able to apply learned skills to their natural environment. How is this done? Therapists teach behavior skills in a controlled environment, such as The SEED Center, and they teach the children how to generalize these behavior skills in their natural environment. The ultimate goal is to have children be able to use these skills in all types of environments, such as, home, school, playground, etc.
What is “NR”?
“NR” is short for ‘no response’. In terms of ABA, when a therapist is collecting data after a trial and the client does not responds at all, their score would be considered a ‘no response’ or “NR.”
Some learners can be prompted to do physical activities like playing games, completing schoolwork, and singing songs, but once they are requested to respond to a question or demand, they go blank. Typically, eye contact dissolves, and a blank stare occurs. Remember, it is impossible to force out a verbal response from someone else.
It is not uncommon to become nervous or doubt your skills as a professional when ‘no response’ occurs. However, it is important to keep in mind that you should:
- Continue trying to connect with the client
- Avoid ‘waiting out’ the client until they respond
- Do not try raising your voice, this will not help with receiving a response
- Prevent repeating your clients name; if they are not giving a verbal response to demands then they definitely will not respond to their name being called
- Do not continue teaching and giving new information, this is not going to help your client learn if they are unable to respond to the initial request
Focus on Yourself
The best piece of advice to remember is to avoid blaming the client. Focus on how you can change your actions in order to motivate the client. Are you able to make your materials more engaging? Can you reinforce differently? Can the client sense your frustration? Are you teaching too quickly or too slowly? How can you make yourself more fun?
Continue trying new tactics to see what motivates the client to give you a verbal response. Even if something fails, at least you know it does not work and you’ve made progress in determining how to receive a response from the client. For any additional information, please reach out to The SEED Center. Our team of highly trained professionals is eager to help!
As previously discussed, echoics, intraverbals, mands, and tacts are all common ABA techniques to teach communication! Remember, the ultimate goal is not only to have your child be able to communicate with you, but with peers, teachers, and other people your child may interact with.
Echoics are the fundamentals of language and allow your child to learn by repeating what they hear. These demonstrate basic communication and as your child learns, you will be able to increase the conversation length and have more in-depth communication.
As mentioned before, these demonstrate your child’s ability to respond to questions involving something that is not physically there. This will allow your child to answer questions, such as, their parents names, phone number, etc.
By learning mands, a child will be able to request a need or a want. This will teach them how to communicate that they are hunger, thirsty, hurt, tired, etc. Also, mands teach a child how to appropriately ask for things or to communicate desires.
Tacts, or labels, teach your child how to identify objects in their environment. This allows your child to identify things they want. Also, tacts give you the ability to understand their requests.
These techniques focus on teaching communication in a way that works best for the learner. The goal is to have your child be able to communicate their wants, needs, and ideas and how that goal is achieved should be individualized in a way that best suits the learner.
For more information, please contact The SEED Center.
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The common goal of ABA therapy is to increase communication. Communication needs to be functional so a child can express their needs, wants, and ideas. Also, ABA programs aim to increase functional communication based on the learner. Thus, how communication is taught can be restructured and the definition of success can vary. In other words, the teaching of communication may veer away from the traditional method of learning nouns, sentence structure, adjectives, etc. but in turn focus on verbal operants. Verbal operants include, echoics, intraverbals, mands, and tacts.
What are echoics, intraverbals, mands, and tacts?
- Echoic- Having the learner repeat what they hear (echoing)
- Intraverbal- Requiring the learner to respond to conversation, including things or ideas that are not physically present
- Mand– Teaching the learner to request what they want or need
- Tact- Teaching the learner label and define objects
Our highly trained professionals at The SEED Center possess the skills necessary to help your child learn these communication techniques. Remember, the overall goal is for your child to be able to communicate with everyone they talk to.
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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is scientifically proven to be the most effective treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ABA therapy takes into consideration that treatment needs to be individualized. Also, ABA considers that environment influences a person’s behavior.
Individualized Treatment Plans
One reason that ABA therapy is effective is due to modifying treatment plans for each individual. Interventions differ from person-to-person based on their interests, their needs, and their skills. Therapists constantly monitor the success of the intervention plan by collecting data. If the data show the intervention to be ineffective, then the therapist can alter the intervention plan. Modifying the plan ensures that the individual is receiving the most effective treatment.
ABA considers the environment to influence a person’s behavior. ABA does not support the idea of “changing a person”. Rather, ABA focuses on changing the environment surrounding an individual. This indicates that changing the environment will change the behavior of the individual. Therefore, the environment can be altered to increase positive behavior and reduce negative behaviors.
If you have any questions about individualized treatment plans, environmental influences, or ABA therapy in general, please contact The SEED Center via phone or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our professionals are happy to answer any questions you may have!
Parents, family members, and significant others play a significant role in the success of ABA intervention. The therapist should not be the only one conducting ABA intervention. Family members, teachers, siblings, and anyone else that interacts with the individual, needs to use ABA strategies to ensure that the efforts are consistent. Remember it is important that all of these strategies are overseen by your child’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to ensure they are effective. Also, this will help the individual generalize and learn how to behave appropriately in a variety of settings outside the interaction with the therapist. Having supportive family members and friends who consistently use the strategies of ABA will provide the utmost support for the individual. This will help the individual become more independent and meet their goals!
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Remember to keep your child interested and motivated! A child, who is uninterested in a game and becomes urged to play the game by a parent or teacher, may become frustrated and illustrate unwanted behavior.
Here are some signs to determine if your child is interested in the game:
- Requests to play the game again
- Make efforts to have other players follow the rules
- Agrees to follow the rules
- Happy during the game
- Able to successfully play the game independently
If after repeated efforts to play the game and your child is still not interested or able to play independently, your child is most likely not motivated and does not have interest in continuing the game. Therefore, you can attempt to modify the game or choose another game. Having your child understand and express interest in a social game will help the development of their social skills. The SEED Center offers social skills groups for all ages. Contact us today to get more information and to schedule a screening.
Are you having difficulty teaching your child with autism how to play games and interact with peers in social games?
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder typically have difficulty creating social relationships and learning appropriate behaviors for play activities. Besides having fun, there are many benefits to play, including teaching your child a lesson, social engagement, creating friendships, learning how to cooperate, and to expand imagination. Teaching games to a child with autism spectrum disorder, can be very challenging because prompting may need involved, it could be difficult to communicate the rules of each game, they may lose motivation, and they may have a hard time learning how to cooperate.
Keep in mind these strategies when helping a child play a game:
- Positive Reinforcement– Try to use reinforcers as much as possible during games. Exaggerate facial expressions and body posture to make games more interactive and enjoyable. Establish method to keep score and allow the winner to receive a positive reward, like choosing the next game.
- Chaining– The expected sequence of playing the game should be taught and reviewed so your child knows what to expect. For example, setting up the game, then rolling the dice, then finding your piece, moving your piece, and then cleaning up the game when it’s finished. This way, your child can learn the sequence of events and know what behavior is expected and when.
- Modeling-Have your child observe others before playing the game, this way they can learn what is expected. That way, they are able to understand what to do before the social play activity so they do not fail socially and lose interest in the activity
- Scripting- Games offer a good opportunity to help your child develop and increase communication skills. Scripts can be useful to help your child learn appropriate phrases during playtime.
- Shaping– Encourage your child to try to be as independent in the game as possible. They may need extra help remembering the rules and could need a partner in the game before being independent.
- Prompting– After observing others plays the game; your child may be ready to play but may need some prompts to remind them of what to do next. You can indirectly give them prompts, “what comes next?” or you can give them direct prompts “it’s time for you to roll the dice.” Prompts can also be non-verbal.
How can I tell if my child is behind on language development? This is a question a lot of parents ask themselves when their child is growing up. Each child is different, so there is no definite ‘normal’ language development in young children. If you are worried about your child’s language development, keep in mind these age-related milestones:
Age One Milestones:
- Respond to others verbally or with facial expressions
- Attentive to others talking
- Can use simple words, “mom,” “dad,” “uh-oh”
- Attempts to mimic others speech
- Follow simple commands
- Recognizing faces, objects, etc.
- Respond to verbal questions
- Repeat words they have heard
Age Three-Four Milestones:
- Can understand when things are similar or different
- Speaks clearly for strangers to understand
- Can tell stories
- Can string together a sentence of five to six words
Children learn at their own pace, but if you are worried that your child is falling behind on any of these milestones, you may want to seek assistance from one of our professionals to help your child develop and improve their language skills.