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Parents Know Best

Parenting…it can be absolute bliss and also extremely overwhelming all at the same time. As a parent, one wears a lot of hats: caregiver, provider, chef, teacher, counselor, marriage partner, information specialist and more. This role grows tenfold with you’re a parent to a child with autism. Parents of children with autism must navigate a world that bombards them with information about what they should do to help their child succeed. You want to advocate for your child to get the best services and school programs available, but it’s hard to know where to start.

Parents know their children best. They know their passions, their strengths, and their stressors. Parents know that there are triggers to their child’s challenging behaviors that impede on the family’s ability to move smoothly through their daily lives. Although, sometimes it’s a struggle to figure out what exactly to do in order to stop the problem behaviors from happening. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut.

We’re quite certain we can help. We know how to empower you to make the right changes and improve the lives of your child and the family unit as a whole. ATCC Parent Training Series.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the highly researched ‘gold standard’ for autism treatment is a great place to start!

Becoming educated in ABA, will allow you to acquire knowledge to make desired behavior changes with your child. ABA will help you understand how your child learns, and we can show you how to use positive reinforcement strategies for continued learning and growth.

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  • Reducing Tantrums
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Teaching Eye Contact with Face Painting

face paint, store bought or homemade. (We’ll show you how.)

One creative way to increase your child’s eye contact is by painting each other’s faces. Imagine the smile on your child’s face when it’s colorfully painted into their favorite character or animal. While you are painting your child’s face, you will naturally be giving each other eye contact. You can offer to paint fancy eye lashes coming out from the corner of your child’s eyes or make a circle of little stars around each eye. This allows for even more opportunity for your child to comfortably look at your face and eyes.

Find out more about teaching children with ASD at ATCConline.com

If you’re extra brave, give your child a chance to paint your face as well. This will create twice the opportunity for your child to practice eye contact and will also be twice as fun! For younger children, you can sit facing each other and play Pat-a-cake type clapping games or Peek-a-boo while making sure to hold your hands in front of your face to increase your child’s naturally occurring eye contact. Some children may not enjoy the feeling of paint on their face and hands and you may want to opt for playing with toy glasses, noses, masks or just making silly faces at each other. Your child will be experiencing silliness and laughter while practicing this crucial skill.

Why This Activity Works
Eye contact is a foundational social skill for all children. It is essential because eye contact is necessary for success with other social skills, learning activities, and for a child to safely interact in the world around them.  Looking at a person’s face gives us many important social clues and is important to communication because it allows us to read facial expressions and lip patterns. These facial clues are often extra important for children who have difficulty learning and using language. Fun games like face painting can be used to help children with ASD feel more comfortable using eye contact.


I recommend using washable paint that can be purchased at any local craft store. DIY – You and your child can easily make face paint together at home by mixing corn starch, face lotion, natural food coloring, and a dab of vegetable oil. Creating the paint yourself allows for even more enjoyable social interaction between you and your child.

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Teaching Early Language – FREE Activity Guide

BUBBLES, BUBBLES, GLORIOUS BUBBLES (AGES 2 – 6)

ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION

Bubbles are a beloved toy for all, though they are particularly intriguing to young children with autism. What child wouldn’t relish in watching a liquid turn into seemingly magical, iridescent balls of floating air that disappear into the sky? So, you know you’ve got a captive audience when bubbles are around, this is the first crucial factor. 

What’s also great about bubbles is that they are the kind of toy that young children need assistance to play with. Unscrewing the container of bubbles and blowing a sustainable bubble are tasks that undoubtedly are difficult for a young child to do by themselves. This means they will need YOU to help them. Take full advantage of this by eliciting as much verbal and non-verbal language as you possibly can. 

Motivate your child to ask for more bubbles. Blow a few rounds of bubbles, then stop, leaving the wand in the container and see if you can your child to request for you to take the wand out. Then put the wand up to your mouth, but don’t blow. See if you can get your child to request you to blow. If your child is an early learner, you may accept him reaching for the container or wand as a way of communicating his wants, or maybe a simple first letter sound, such as ‘ba’ for ‘blow’ is developmentally appropriate for him.  For a child with more language ability, you can elicit the sentence “Please blow more bubbles”. 

MOTIVATION IS KEY!

Motivate your child to comment about bubble play. Demonstrate commenting during play, then stop and point at a bubble with an excited look on your face and see if your child will make a comment on their own. You can give an early learner a sentence to fill in, such as “That bubble is _____” or for a child with more language ability, help them to communicate longer, more descriptive sentences. 

To perform this activity all you will need is a container of bubbles and a bubble wand. Don’t fret if you don’t have bubbles on hand though, you can easily make your own with household items. All you need to do is mix 1-part dish soap to 3-parts water, add in a few teaspoons of sugar and stir it together. The sugar is a must, as it makes the bubbles last longer in the air. Wands can be made using anything with a hole in it such as pipe cleaners, drinking straws, and even a strainer.

Thriving with Autism: 90 Activities to Encourage Your Child’s Communication, Engagement, and Play

“Our mission is to make ABA strategies, evidence based practices, and therapy for children with autism available to everyone.”

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Move Into Action with Prompting

It’s the beginning of the school year and Johnny, a student with autism, is for the first time in an inclusive class setting. So far, he has integrated well into his 2ndgrade class, though there are still some skills that he needs assistance with. Luckily, he has you, his RBT, right there with him to ensure he inches closer and closer to achieving his goals! One of Johnny’s biggest hurdles in his new class is initiating a written task. Each day, the class is given a worksheet to complete independently. While his classmates complete their work, Johnny instead gets distracted by things in his environment and will not get started on his own.

Our job is to assist Johnny in achieving the skill of independently initiating a written task. How can we help him?

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We can use prompting, to help Johnny move into action!

In ABA, prompts are an essential part of teaching new skills. Prompts are specific and strategic types of assistance (help) given to a client in order to increase the likelihood of a correct response. For new skills, we want to start with the most intrusive prompts, and then reduce to less intrusive prompts as our learner achieves success.

Here’s how this may look for Johnny. All learners are different and therefore may start with a different level of prompts.

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Physical Prompt – Using physical contact to make sure a skill is demonstrated correctly. This may involve softly guiding Johnny hand-over-hand or simply moving his elbow forward prompting him to pick up his pencil and begin writing his name on the worksheet.

Verbal Prompt – Using only verbal instructions to bring about an accurate response. This may sound like “Johnny, get your pencil and begin your work” or simply “Get started”.

Gestural Prompt – Using a motion to cue the correct response. This may look like pointing to the pencil in order to get Johnny to pick it up and get started with his task.

Positional Prompt – Placing the necessary items in a location that elicits a correct response. This may involve placing his pencil and worksheet in view of Johnny’s eye level.

Visual Prompt – Using text or images to produce the correct response. You may make a visual image of the steps or write them in words for Johnny to reference depending on our learners reading level.

Don’t forget to positively reinforce Johnny’s successes; even when a prompt is used!

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The ultimate goal is for you to be able to fade the visual prompt out completely in the future, so there is no prompts needed for Johnny to independently initiate written tasks. In the chance that this doesn’t happen though, you can always return to a previous prompt or try to delay giving the visual prompt to see if Johnny moves closer to independence.

When implemented correctly, prompts are a very valuable tool to development independence for children with autism. In addition, prompting meets the evidence-based practice criteria with five single-subject design studies, demonstrating its effectiveness in the domains of academic and language/communication in all three age groups (i.e., preschool, elementary, middle/high school). See All.

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The Beloved Token Economy

The beloved Token Economy is a tried & true behavior management technique!

A Token Economy is an implementation technique for Positive Reinforcement, the backbone of ABA Therapy. Give a child something they love for behaving the way you want them to and you will see that desired behavior skyrocket!

You don’t have to have a degree in economics to understand it, it’s simple! Learners earn tokens (stars, stickers, tickets, etc.) for displaying a desired behavior. They then exchange the tokens for a larger prize (candy, iPad, fun activity time, etc.).

token-economy-example

THE PROCESS:
1. Decide on the specific amount of tokens your learner will need to earn in order to obtain their reinforcer. (Beginner learners should have very few, while advanced learners can work for more tokens over an extended period of time).

2. Give your learner a choice of larger reinforcers and let them decide which one they want to work for that day. (This is a crucial step. If your learner is not motivated to work for the reinforcer, little behavior change will occur).

3. If possible, explain to your learner the expected behavior required to earn tokens. For some learners, it will help to know what desired behavior you will be watching for them to display. This is not a requirement for a Token Economy to be successful. Some learners will begin to understand the Token Economy after it has gone into effect and the Differential Reinforcement taking place will positively affect your child’s behavior with no explanation ever needing to take place.

4. Give your learner a token immediately after you see them engage in the desired behavior. Tell your learner why they have received the token. For example “Wow Johnny! You just earned another token for staying in your seat during the movie!”

5. Once your learner has obtained all of the required tokens, give your learner their big prize with a whole lot of positive praise for a job well done.

When done correctly, a Token Economy can be successful with just about anyone. It has been proven to be very effective for students with special needs. It is also an Evidence Based Practice (EBP) for children with autism.

One reason that a Token Economy is so effective is due to the fact that the learner can visually see the progress they are making. This Visual Support (EBP) can be calming because the learner knows what is going to happen next. Token Economy is also a great way to teach delayed gratification, because the student must wait for all tokens to be obtained before the big prize is received.

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Token Economy boards are easy to make. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. Even a post-it note will work to create a discreet token board for an older learner. If you’d like to make a reusable version, you can get creative with laminated paper, a white board pen, Velcro and stickers of your learner’s favorite cartoon characters.

Give it a try! Learn more by visiting Autism Therapy Career College.

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Imitation Training: The Basics

Copy That!

Imitation: the act of mimicing, copying or using someone as a model for behavior.

From very early in life, babies learn by imitation. It comes naturally to them. A baby imitates the way her mommy reads to her, she picks a book up and flips through the pages, babbling away. A baby imitates the way her daddy sips his coffee, saying ‘ahh’ after pretending to drink from her plastic tea cup. A baby imitates the way her sister picks her nose. She even imitates the dog, as she crawls on all fours to the dog bowl and gives the food a taste. Yes, we’ve all heard it, watch what you say and do around a child, because the child will say and do the same.

On the other hand, this is often times not the case with children with autism. Imitation skills is a deficit for individuals on the Autism Spectrum, which contributes significantly to their difficulty with learning. If your unable to imitate actions of others, you can not readily learn skills such as play, social interaction, language and daily living. Nor can you pick up behavior patterns or be easily prompted to do something correctly.

Imitation is a building block skill, therefore it should be one of the very first skills taught to a child with autism in their Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program, that is if they do not possess ability to imitate already. A method called ‘Imitation Training’ is often used to do this.

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When it is established that a child is ready for Imitation Training, a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Therapist will run the program using these three basic parts:

1) An RBT demonstrates the behavior they want their client to perform while giving instructions such as “Do this”
2) The client is assisted or prompted to do the same behavior
3) The RBT delivers reinforcment such as a food, toys or activity the child enjoys immediately

Gradually the prompts are faded and the client learns to independently imitate their therapist. It’s important make sure this skill is then worked on with family and peers, so it is may be used in their daily life.


Imitation Training doesn’t have to remain such a dry activity though, there are many fun ways to work on imitation that you’ll remember from childhood. Here’s a few to try out!

Children’s Song: Children with autism often love music, use this to your advantage and teach them to imitate the actions you are doing while singing a song such as ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”

Simon Says: This can become a great imitation game if Simon performs each action while giving the verbal direction or if a peer joins in on the fun your client can be prompted to mimic his/her friend.

Follow the Leader: Make a human train, push the child in a wagon or simply hold hands on a tour of their environment. Make frequent stops to perform an action, then have them imitate it. Here are some examples: knock at the door, push in a chair, jump in place, pick a flower, give a parent a high five. The options are endless.

Learn about more ways to educate children with autism. Better yet, become an expert in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Join the growing career field for RBT Autism Therapists. It’s easier than you think, just let Autism Therapy Career College, a quick and inexpensive vocational school, lead the way!

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Teaching Life Skills with Task Analysis

Take It Step-By-Step

Time to discuss the details of yet another Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) frequently used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) by Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs). It’s called Task Analysis. The name might sound complex, but it is actually a rather simple strategy to understand. What Task Analysis entails, is breaking a skill down into sequentially ordered steps, so they can be taught one step at a time. Think of Task Analysis as creating an instruction manual to complete a task.

In our everyday lives, we complete long strings of behaviors in order to accomplish tasks without giving much thought to it. The act of brushing your teeth alone is comprised of a whopping 22 steps or more! Check it out…

  1. Get your toothbrush.
  2. Turn on the faucet.
  3. Get your toothbrush wet.
  4. Turn off the faucet.
  5. Get the toothpaste.
  6. Take the cap off the toothpaste.
  7. Squeeze the toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  8. Put the cap back on toothpaste.
  9. Brush the inside surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  10. Brush the bitting surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  11. Brush the outside surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  12. Spit in the sink.
  13. Brush your tongue.
  14. Turn on the faucet.
  15. Rinse your toothbrush.
  16. Put the toothbrush away.
  17. Grab a cup.
  18. Fill the cup with water.
  19. Rinse your teeth with water.
  20. Spit the water out.
  21. Put the cup away.
  22. Turn off the faucet.

That’s a lot for an individual with autism to take in all at once. Students with autism learn best when they are given small teachable units of information to process one at a time.

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Here are some things to remember when creating a Task Anaysis:

Consistency: Not everyone brushes their teeth in the same way, there is naturally going to be variations to the way a task is completed. The team, consisting of the Behavior Technicians, along with the parents of the child you’re working with, need to agree upon a set procedure for how a task will be performed and write the individual steps down clearly for all to follow.

Tailor-Made: We all have our strengths and weaknesses. When building a task analysis, it is important to consider the skill sets of the child you are working with, this way you know if you need to break steps down into very small sections or if you can group steps together. It will also give you an idea if the skill should be taught starting at the beginning or at the end, and what form of prompting should be used.

Do The Task Yourself: Completing the task yourself while you write your task analysis is very important. You’ll be surprised just how many steps you may leave out unknowingly if you don’t walk through the completion of the steps yourself.

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Discrete Trial Teaching

Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) was developed by Ivar Lovaas and is an
evidence-based practice (EBP) that has been used as a method of teaching
individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder for more than 40 years. It is the
most widely used and well researched form of Applied Behavior Analysis
(ABA).

For children with autism, learning does not always come easily, nor
naturally from observing the people and environment around them. DTT works
well for children with autism, and all children really, because it takes
a complex skill and breaks it down into small simplified steps. Each step
is taught until it is mastered in a structured way.


 The Discrete Trial Cycle:
It has a distinct beginning, middle and ending. The
three main components are as follows:
 

1) Instruction/ Sd (Discriminative Stimulus)
 
2) Student Response
 
3) Feedback/ SR+ (Reinforcing Stimulus)

Inter-Trial Interval (ITI) – this is the transition or pause of roughly 1-3 seconds before the start of the next Discrete Trial Cycle.


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The first component of DTT, the Sd, is the instruction that
a RBT therapist gives to their student. This can be in the form of words or
actions given that stimulate a behavior to happen. This must be said or
shown clearly, concisely and slightly louder than a normal tone of voice.
It should not involve the student’s name and be too lengthy, especially
with a new student just starting ABA therapy.

The second component, the Response (R), is the behavior of the child that
happens in response to the Sd or instruction given.

The last component is the Feedback/ SR+ given to the child. This is the
consequence that immediately follows the student’s response. If a correct
response is given, the child is given SR+ right away in the form of a food,
praise, a preferred toy or activity, etc. If an incorrect response or no
response is given, the child receives corrective feedback by being
presented with the Sd again and being prompted (P) with the correct answer
immediately prior to the child’s next response.

It is important to deliver a consequence (Feedback/ SR+) after every response so your student becomes aware of which behaviors or responses are correct and incorrect. Giving reinforcement to correct responses will make it likely
the response will occur again.
It’s important to vary your reinforcement.
Highest SR+ for correct responses that include eye contact, focus on the
task and good effort will show the student that this is a behavior to
repeat and therefore learn, because great things happen when I display it.
While, correct responses with poor eye contact, focus and
effort still receives SR+, but at moderate to lower levels.

Here are examples of a Discrete Trial Cycle when a student gives a correct
response and incorrect response.

DTT with CORRECT Response
Materials: 2D images of a ball and bicycle
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
R: Child touches the bicycle picture card.
SR+: “Right on, way to go!” RBT therapist gives lots of tickles.

DTT with INCORRECT or NO Response
Materials: 2D images of a ball and bicycle
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
R: Child looks away, no picture card is touched.
(RBT therapist immediately repeats the Sd and prompts the correct answer)
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
P: Therapist physically prompts the child’s hand to touch the bicycle card, making sure he is looking at the card.
SR+: “That’s right, you ride a bicycle!”
(Follow up with an independent trial)
Sd: “Touch the one you ride on.”
R: Child touches the bicycle picture card
SR+: Fabulous! You got it. RBT therapist gives some tickles.
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Did you enjoy your introduction to DTT teaching? Learn more about this method of teaching children with autism and much more at Autism Therapy Career College. It the inexpensive vocational school that prepares you for a career you’ll love in just 90 days!

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