Pick of the Week: Sensory Tubes – Reinforcers filled with endless possibilities of stimuli!

We love these Sensory Tubes here at Different Roads to Learning! This set of 4 clear and sturdy Sensory Tubes is remarkably versatile.
What we love about them is that you can fill each one with assorted visual or auditory stimuli that a particular student finds reinforcing, completely individualizing them. This week, take 15% off* your order of the Sensory Tubes by applying promo code TUBES15 at checkout!

Each tube features dual openings with 2 solid lids along with four vented lids that let children explore their sense of smell or even observe little critters.

The lids easily twist off and on, and the solid lids hold liquid securely inside. The tubes measure 12 inches in height and 2.5 inches in diameter. These Sensory Tubes will make your student’s reinforcement possibilities endless!

Don’t forget to save 15%* this week on your set of Sensory Tubes by applying promo code TUBES15 at checkout!

 

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on December 23rd, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

5 Tips on Teaching Safety Skills to Children with Autism

This week, we’re thrilled to bring you a second guest article by Sarah Kupferschmidt, MA, BCBA. Sarah has written a very comprehensive article on teaching street safety skills in children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Learning to navigate the real world involves many complex skills that we may often take for granted. So how do we teach our children when to cross the street and what to watch out for? Read on for Sarah’s tips on how to teach and reinforce safety skills in children.


I am passionate about empowering children with special needs and their families with skills and knowledge that they can use to improve their quality of life. This is why I am super excited to be sharing tips and strategies that relate to keeping your child with autism safe on the street. Learning to navigate the real world involves a lot of complex skills that we sometimes take for granted. For example, learning to determine when it is safe to cross the street requires the ability to attend to your environment, the ability to identify moving cars from cars that are still, the ability to identify the signal at the cross walk that lets you know it is safe to cross, among many, many, more. In some cases even more advanced problem solving is required because if the sign says it is safe to cross and a motorist continues through the intersection we need to be able to identify the moving car is approaching and that we need to wait for it to pass before crossing the street. So where do we begin?

Tip #1: The Learner is Never Wrong

I love the saying “the learner is never wrong” because of what it implies. Whenever considering teaching a new skill to a child or student we need to focus on that unique child’s strengths and weaknesses. Where do we need to boost up their skills and what do they already know so that we can capitalize on those strengths. Before going out to teach your child with autism how to cross the street safely, they should have some imitation skills, be able to respond to instructions and attend to you or a teacher amidst a lot of distractions (e.g., cars, background noise and pedestrians, just to name a few). Once you have determined they are ready to learn this important skill you would want to use things that are of interest to them and that you know align with their learning style. For example, are they a visual learner and if so, how can you incorporate visuals to maximize their learning potential in how you go out and practice crossing the street safely?

Tip #2: Simplify the Complex Skills

As mentioned earlier in the post, many of the skills that we use actually have many components, something we take for granted. In this case, teaching how to cross the street might involve the following steps:

  1. Stop at the curb/crosswalk
  2. Look at the crosswalk signal
  3. Decide if it is safe to cross (e.g., does it say ‘walk,’ or does it say ‘stop’)
  4. If the sign says walk, then look both ways
  5. Decide if it is safe (e.g., is there a car moving or not)
  6. Walk safely across the street (e.g., this means walking not running, perhaps holding your hand)

It is important to remember that these steps are just an example of what you might teach. You would individualize this based on the environment in which you live (e.g., if there is a crosswalk sign or crossing guard, or not) and the expectations you have as a family (e.g., to hold the hand or not). Teach this using tools that you know are effective with your unique child. For example, you may decide to print out a visual depiction for each of the steps and show them as you talk about it and practice. This depends on your child’s unique learning style. As with every skill that that we teach, it is never enough to just tell someone or show someone how to do it. We need to actually go out and practice.

Tip #3: Practice, Practice, Practice

Use every opportunity that you have to go out and practice this very important skill. I would also recommend that you set up specific times to go out and practice. You can use the visuals that you printed and go through each of the steps while you are out. If you notice that your child is struggling on a particular step, then practice that particular step at home even more. For example, if your child is not identifying the walk signal when you are out on the street, set up times to go over that at home.

Tip #4: Monitor Progress

In order to see how your child is doing on each of the steps it is a good idea to record how they do on each of the steps. You might print off a checklist with each of the steps that looks something like this:

Street Safety Chart

You would calculate the number of times you recorded a Y over the total number of steps (e.g., in this case 6). For example, if I worked on this with my child and he did all of the steps he would get a 6/6. If he missed a step his overall score would be 5/6 or 83%. This score can then be used to monitor progress. I would also suggest that anytime you go out and practice you highlight whichever step(s) that they missed, if any. This will allow you to see if you need to work on something a little bit more before you go out and practice.

Tip #5: Notice the Good Stuff

Feedback is critical when you are teaching a new skill. Otherwise how is your child going to know how they are doing? This means that when they get it right we need to notice it and we need to be specific about what it is they did well. You can even use the visuals if you have them. You might say something like “I love the way you followed all of the steps of what to do when crossing the street safely! You stopped at the curb, looked at the signal…etc.” You may point to the visual as you tell them. If they missed a step remind them that next time they should try to remember what it is that they missed. Anytime they do one of the steps spontaneously, point it out to them and give lots of praise. Over time we can fade the praise out but it is really important when teaching a new skill, especially at the beginning.

If you have any questions about any of the tips listed here feel free to contact me or a local Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). I am passionate about keeping our kids safe! Sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter for regular tips and strategies!

WRITTEN BY SARAH KUPFERSCHMIDT, MA, BCBA

Sarah Kupferschmidt is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who has worked with hundreds of children with autism and their families across Ontario. She has had the privilege of supervising ABA programs and training clinical staff in those programs.  Currently Sarah offers parent coaching and workshops to teach parents but also educators on the most effective ways to teach children using the principles of ABA.  She is also a part-time faculty member at Mohawk College in the Autism Behavioral Science program, in the social sciences program at McMaster University, and an Adjunct Professor at Sage Graduate School.  Sarah is CEO and co-Founder of Special Appucations, Incwhich is a company that creates educational products that help maximize the learning potential for children with autism because they are designed using the principles of ABA.  Sarah has appeared as a guest on CP24, CHCH news, Hamilton Life and the Scott Thompson radio show as an authority on autism.

Pick of the Week: Fine Motor Fun Deck – Hands-on activities to reinforce fine motor & visual motor skills

Use your hands to be an alligator. Trace the dotted lines to make a mountain. Our newly added Fine Motor Fun Deck contains exercises and writing tasks that challenge overall hand-use and coordination skills. The front side of the card has kid-friendly hand activities for strengthening and dexterity, while the backs contain prewriting, wipe-off activities for reinforcing fine motor and visual motor skills. This week only, save 15%* on your set of the Fine Motor Fun Deck by using our promo code MOTOR at check-out!

Activities in the Fine Motor Fun Deck include tracing and drawing simple lines and shapes, connect-the-dots, mazes, name writing, and finish-the-pictures. There are four additional cards that provide directions, game ideas, and exercises for hand skill development that require the use of simple classroom or home supplies. There are 52 cards, each measuring 7″ x 4″, 4 connector cards (and, or, before, and after), and 4 dry-erase markers, all stored in a sturdy tin. Recommended for children ages 4 and up.

Don’t forget—you can save 15%* this week only on the Fine Motor Fun Deck by applying promo code MOTOR when you check out online or over the phone with us!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on December 16th, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Tip of the Week: Consider Response Effort in Your Intervention

Several previous posts have discussed how important it is to have a multi-pronged approach to behavior interventions, including definitions for how caregivers will respond to undesirable behavior, the replacement behavior, and reinforcement. One thing I have not shared is considering response effort when choosing a replacement behavior.

Response effort describes how easy or difficult it is to engage in a behavior. For example, I frequently check my e-mail on my phone. Occasionally, I get an e-mail that requires a lengthy reply. The response effort for typing on the tiny touchpad is much greater than sitting down at my laptop and using the keyboard, so I wait until I can go to my computer to reply to that e-mail. Typing on the keyboard requires less response effort.

In general, when we make choices about how to behave, whether we are aware of it or not, we choose the behavior that gets the best results with the least response effort. But if a low response effort achieves poor results, we’re probably not going to engage in that behavior. Let’s look at an example of choosing a higher response effort. Let’s say I live down the street from a hair salon, and I go there once but hate my hair cut. I’ll engage in the higher response effort to drive 30 minutes to a salon that gives me a great cut. I want the lowest response effort, but not if it achieves poor results.

So how does this apply to interventions in your environment? When you’re choosing a replacement behavior, you should try to make it require less response effort than the undesirable behavior. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Every time you teach a math lesson, your learner breaks his pencil and throws it across the room. You’ve identified that the behavior of breaking the pencil functions as escape, meaning that in the past, when he broke his pencil, his consequence was a break, a walk to “calm down,” or a trip to see the dean. You’ve provided a replacement behavior of holding up a stop sign that stays on his desk. When he holds up the stop sign, he is provided with a break. Holding up the stop sign requires much less response effort than breaking a pencil.
  • You are the director of a center for learners with autism. Many of your students are being toilet trained during the day. It is important that the providers working with the students wear gloves during the toilet training process. The gloves are on the wall when you enter the bathroom, but you’ve noticed that several providers are still not wearing gloves. One provider tells you that if she forgets to grab the gloves as she’s coming in and the child is already in the stall, it’s too difficult to backtrack and keep an eye on the child. You decrease the response effort by placing a box of gloves inside each stall in the bathroom.

Decreasing the response effort for the desired behavior while simultaneously increasing the response effort for the undesirable behavior can produce even better results. There have been several studies related to increasing response effort for self-injurious behavior such as hand-biting while providing replacement behaviors with a lower response effort.

As you’re developing behavior intervention plans or thinking of ways to improve your teaching environment, you should think through the possibilities of using response effort to encourage appropriate behaviors.


WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, MSED, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-12 in NYC. Working in education for ten years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam has developed strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. Sam is currently pursuing her PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College.

Pick of the Week: “Getting Started” by James Partington, PhD, BCBA-D

The latest book from James Partington, PhD, BCBA-D, author of the ABLLS®-R and AFLS, Getting Started: Developing Critical Learning Skills is an accessible guide that teaches parents and educators how to develop critical skills for learning in children who have no, or very limited, language skills. Save 15%* this week only on your copy of Getting Started. Just use our promo code GETSTART at check-out to redeem these savings!

Written in non-technical language, Dr. Partington explains how to teach these children how to ask for items they want, imitate actions and vocalizations, attend to actions with objects, and to initiate social interactions.

Getting Started provides evidence-based Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior methodology along with critical information on where to start and the procedure involved in teaching these critical learning skills that form an important basic foundation for a child’s overall development.

Step-by-step instructions allow a parent or teacher to implement training and track the child’s acquisition of these important skills. All of the strategies in this book are linked to the skills in the ABLLS®-R. In addition, it provides the reader with strategies to motivate the child to participate in those learning activities as well as identify appropriate goals. This book is printed in soft cover with 260 pages.

Don’t forget to apply our promo code GETSTART at check-out to take 15% off* your order of Getting Started: Developing Critical Learning Skills for Children on the Autism Spectrum.

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on December 9th, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Cyber Monday Savings – Save 20% and more today!

The post-Thanksgiving sale continues! Until tonight, you can receive 20% off your order and $5 flat-rate shipping* (within anywhere in the U.S.). Just apply our promo code CYBER14 when you place your order online or over the phone with us!

CyberMonday Banner

*Valid until 11:59pm EST TONIGHT (12/01/2014). Cannot be combined with any other offer. One-time use only. Flat-rate shipping applies only to U.S. domestic orders. Discount is not valid on Assessment Kits for ABLLS®-R and VB-MAPP (DRK 700-703), multi-packs of VB-MAPP Protocols (DRB 682/683), and the ABA Curriculum for the Common Core Kit: Kindergarten (DRK 055).

Autism Speaks Partners with Simon Malls to Feature a Caring Santa Program

We’re delighted to share that Autism Speaks has partnered up with Simon Property Group, Inc. and the Noerr Programs Corporation to bring children and their families a new Caring Santa programOn Sunday, December 7, 2014, for two hours prior to the mall opening, children with special needs will have the opportunity to meet Santa personally in a sensory-friendly environment set up in 120 different Simon Malls across the country.

Reservations to meet their Caring Santa’s at Simon Malls are going fast, so book your spot today to meet Santa in a fun and sensory-friendly environment at this private event just for families with special needs. For a full list of locations and dates of the Caring Santa event, visit www.simon.com/caring-santa.

Make a Reservation with Caring Santa!

Special Education Students Learn How to Share and Prepare for Thanksgiving

(SGVN/Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb/SWCITY)

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, we thought we would share this wonderful report we came across on learning how to prepare for Thanksgiving festivities at Dexter Middle School in Whittier, CA. With weeks of preparation for their annual tradition, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders in this school’s special education program learn about manners, responsibility, budgeting at the grocery store, and treating others with respect, especially at the dinner table.

How are you preparing for Thanksgiving with your special student this year? What’s your annual tradition?

Click to read: Thanksgiving comes early for Dexter Middle students

Pick of the Week: What Do You Say… What Do You Do… In the Community?

What Do You Say… What Do You Do… In the Community? is our newly added interactive social skills board game that helps teach and reinforce important social skills children need as they interact with their peers, family members, and community helpers. The social questions in the game are ideal for improving reasoning, inferencing, as well as pragmatic, narrative, and conversational skills. This week only, you can save 15%* on your set of What Do You Say… What Do You Do… In the Community? by using promo code SAYDO at checkout!

What Do You Say…What Do You Do… helps build social and decision-making skills appropriate for a variety of situations. Students move around the colorful community game board and answer social-skills questions. With each correct answer, they collect a token and try to fill a token strip. Students will visit places on the game board common to all communities: doctor’s office, police station, library, fire station, hospital, courthouse, city hall, park, grocery store, restaurants, and more.

The Social Situation Cards target several different settings, and the open-ended questions encourage students to problem-solve and are excellent for role-play. The game includes a foldable 18″ x 18″ Game Board, 144 laminated cardboard Community Tokens, 390 color-coded Community Situation Cards, 6 laminated cardboard Community Characters, 6 Token Strips, and a 6-color Die.

Don’t forget to take 15% off* your set of What Do You Say… What Do You Do… this week only by using promo SAYDO at checkout!

Download our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide today! Find the perfect gift for your special child

Around the holidays, parents often get calls from grandparents, friends and relatives asking for gift ideas for children with special needs. Our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide will make it a bit easier for everyone to find something special for the special child in their life. Our trusted consultant Sam Blanco, MSEd, BCBA has put together some of her favorites that are sure to bring delight. From our Different Roads family to yours, we wish you all the joy and happiness of the season.

Holiday Gift Guide

DOWNLOAD OUR 2014 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE NOW!  

AND we’re slashing the prices of the toys and games in our Holiday Gift Guide, so be sure to apply or mention our promo code GIFT14 to save 15%* on these featured products!