Pick of the Week: Wh- Question ConversaCards

Encourage discussion and critical thinking in students with these decks of Wh- Question ConversaCards. This week, you can also save 15%* on your order of any or all of these sets. Just use promo code WHCARDS when you check out online or over the phone!

Covering 6 different topics – Where Does It Go, What Happened, What Comes Next, What Do You Do With It, What Do You Need, and What Do You Like – each set comes with 54 cards and a Resource Guide containing helpful strategies and suggestions for prompts. Learning to respond to “what” and “where” questions is the foundation of conversation and expressive language. These flashcards can be used to teach sequencing, storytelling and logical thinking for a wide range of ability levels!

Don’t forget to use our promo code WHCARDS to take 15% off* when you order your set(s) of Wh- Question ConversaCards this week!

*Offer is valid through February 16, 2016. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code WHCARDS at check-out! Call our customer service team at (800) 853-1057 with inquiries.

Tip of the Week: Build Desirable Behaviors

One of my favorite textbooks about ABA is Focus on Behavior Analysis in Education: Achievements, Challenges, and Opportunities. And one of my favorite chapters in that book is called “Building Behaviors versus Suppressing Behaviors,” which focuses on school-wide positive behavior change This is an often-overlooked key concept in behavior analysis that can have a huge impact on the school environment. Furthermore, when we think of ABA, we often think about individual interventions, but the principles of ABA can be highly effective when applied to large environments, such as an entire school.

The chapter references several studies about school-wide behavior change and offers evidence-based practices for achieving such change. It also outlines social behaviors that should be taught, such as how to apologize or how to make a request, then discusses strategies for rewarding the desirable behaviors. I appreciate that it focuses on getting students involved in making such changes.

Teaching these desirable behaviors can often feel challenging with the additional stresses of a special education classroom. One curriculum I have found effective in addressing this problem is Skillstreaming. I often use Skillstreaming in Early Childhood with young learners, and love that it clearly defines desirable behaviors, such as how to listen or how to offer help (see image below), but provides those definitions in simple terms with visual prompts that help our young learners. It also incorporates positive reinforcement for learners who are engaging in those desirable behaviors.

Listening Skill

In summary, there is lots of evidence out there that focusing on what kids should be rather than what they should not be doing is beneficial for the learner and the general culture of the classroom. Providing clearly defined desirable behavior and building instruction in those behaviors throughout the day is essential. And that instruction may need to be more frequent and more detailed for our learners with developmental disabilities.

References

Heron, T. E., Neef, N. A., Peterson, S. M., Sainato, D. M., Cartledge, G., Gardner, R., … & Dardig, J. C. (2005). Focus on behavior analysis in education: Achievements, challenges, and opportunities. Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall.

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: Save 15% on ALL of our Emotions Flashcards!

Emotions language cards are great tools for teaching language and facial expressions in a variety of contexts to young learners. Promote discussion about a range of emotions, why people may feel a certain way, and possible responses to these feelings with our collection of emotions flash cards.

This week, you can also save 15% on any of these Emotions flashcards sets. Just enter our promo code EMOTIONS when you check out online.

>>> View our entire sale here. <<<

*Offer is valid for one-time use through February 2, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. Promotion does not apply to past purchases. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code EMOTIONS at check-out. Call our friendly customer service team at (800) 853-1057 with any inquiries.

Pick of the Week: Save 30% on “A Work in Progress” Companion Booklets & DVDs!

Building on the popular guide and curriculum A Work In Progress, this companion series of booklets and DVDs synthesizes information on various teaching strategies with demonstrations of actual sessions with students on video. The Work in Progress Companion Series aims to blend a natural, child-friendly approach to teaching while remaining determinedly systematic. This series offers viewers the unique opportunity to see these approaches implemented in actual teaching environments.

This week, we’re offering the entire Set of 6 Work in Progress Companion Booklets & DVDs for only $99.00 (a $150 value)! Or get one (1) Companion Set for $24.95 only $17.50!  Just use our promo code AWIPSET at check-out to redeem these great savings. View our entire sale here.

AWIP_Companion_Booklets_and_DVDs

Parents and teachers will find this series to be a helpful companion and extension to A Work in Progress. All author proceeds from the Work in Progress Companion Series will go directly to the Autism Partnership Family Foundation which was developed to provide services to families with limited resources, fund research that will investigate new strategies and programs that truly make a difference in the lives of children and families, and disseminate information about evidence-based treatment and provide resources for training parents and professionals.

Volume 1: “Cool” versus “Not Cool” teaches students foundational as well as advanced social skills in the difference between behaviors that are socially appropriate (i.e. cool) and those that are inappropriate (i.e. not cool). In later stages, they go on to actually practice the appropriate form of the behavior and receive feedback on their efforts. Research confirms the clinical experience that “Cool” versus “Not Cool” is effective in teaching social skills and enabling students to monitor their own behavior.

Volume 2: Learning How to Learn teaches and demonstrates programs that researchers have found helpful in teaching students how to learn.

Volume 3: Teaching Interactions offers a conversation-style of teaching which adds the all important element of leading students to understand rationales for why they might want to change their behavior and learn new skills. This booklet and DVD teaches students how to develop understanding and insight that help form their internal motivation.

Volume 4: Token Economy provides step-by-step instructions on how to ensure there is a strong connection between the target behavior and the reward that follows. Token economies have a number of advantages and can be very flexible in adapting to the age of the student, the types of rewards used, and the skills and behavioral targets you are seeking to improve.

Volume 5: Developing Reinforcers shows parents and teachers how to be creative in developing new sources of reinforcement, which is especially useful for students who have limited interests.

Volume 6: Bullying & ASD – The Perfect Storm focuses on the tools needed to help children with autism combat bullying. Students with ASD are particularly at risk because of their behavior issues and their vulnerability. This volume provides practical suggestions that help prevent the devastation of bullying.

Buy one (1) volume for only $17.50* this week using promo code AWIPSET at check-out! View our entire sale here!

*Offer is valid for one-time use only through January 26, 2015. Promotion does not apply to past purchases. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code AWIPSET at check-out!

 

Pick of the Week: NEW! Super Sorting Pie

Teach early number skills, colors, shapes, and sorting skills with this fruity Super Sorting Pie! The pie also comes with sorting cards that can be placed in the bottom of the pan to provide visual cues for students. This week, save 15% on your order of the Super Sorting Pie and start sorting! Use our promo code PIE15 at check-out to redeem these savings.

The top crust also becomes a nifty bowl to conveniently hold the fruit counters. Students can also practice fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination with the included tweezers.

The set comes with 60 counters (7 fruits in 5 different colors), 1 plastic pie plate with a cover & removable divider, 3 double-sided sorting cards, 2 jumbo tweezers, and an Activity Guide for suggested lessons. The Super Sorting Pie measures 8¾ inches in diameter.

Take 15%* off your order of the Super Sorting Pie this week with discount code PIE15 at check-out!

*Offer is valid for one-time use only through January 19, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code PIE15 at check-out! Contact our friendly staff at (800) 853-1057 with any inquiries.

Tip of the Week: The Importance of Identifying the Function of a Behavior

As a BCBA, I am often asked to address problematic behaviors. One of the most common errors I see in addressing such behaviors is that the adults working with child have not identified the function (or purpose) of the problematic behavior. Decades of research have shown that there are only four functions for any behavior: attention, escape/avoidance, access to a tangible, and automatic reinforcement (or something that just feels good internally, but cannot be observed by outsiders).

The function of the behavior is whatever happens immediately after the behavior, and increases the likelihood that the behavior will occur again in the future. Here are a few examples of the functions, based on the same behavior:

  1. The therapist tells Lisa it’s time to practice tying shoes. Lisa starts biting her own hand. The therapist look shocked and calls in Lisa’s mother, who rubs her back lightly while Lisa ties her shoes then gives her a lot of verbal praise. This is likely an example of a behavior that functions for attention, because the mother comes in and provides both verbal and physical attention while she ties her shoes. Or it could be an example of a behavior that functions for escape or avoidance, since Lisa did not have to tie her shoes immediately once she began biting her hand.
  2. The therapist tells Lisa it’s time to practice tying shoes. Lisa starts biting her own hand. The therapist gently pushes Lisa’s hand down and then introduces a new task. This is an example of a behavior that functions as escape because Lisa does not have to tie her shoes once she begins biting her hand.
  3. The therapist tells Lisa it’s time to practice tying shoes. Lisa starts biting her own hand. The therapist says, “Oh, don’t stress, we’ll take a sensory break,” and gives Lisa a ball to squeeze. This is an example of a behavior maintained by tangible reinforcement. When Lisa began biting her hand she was immediately given access to a preferred item.

You’ll notice that I left out the automatic reinforcement. This is intentional because often, with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, people assume that a behavior is automatically reinforced instead of exploring these three potential functions described above. One way to recognize if a behavior is automatically reinforced is to note if the behavior happens when the child is alone and/or when no demands have been placed on the child. If it’s only happening around other people or when demands are placed, then it is highly unlikely that the behavior is automatically reinforced. For now, we’ll save automatic reinforcement for another blog post.

Identifying which of these functions is maintaining a problem behavior is essential to putting in an effective intervention. But how do you go about doing this?

The first thing you should do is assess! You can do an informal assessment, such as using the Functional Assessment Screening Tool (FAST) which is comprised of 16 questions that can help you quickly determine the function. If this does not provide conclusive results, you can have a BCBA do a formal functional assessment. Once you have identified the function of the behavior, you can change the environment so that not only does the child no longer receive that reinforcement for a problematic behavior, but there are appropriate replacement behaviors they can engage in to access that reinforcement. For more on that, you can look back at the Importance of Replacement Behaviors.

It may be difficult at first to think in terms of “function of behavior,” rather than assigning a reason for the behavior that is based on the child’s diagnosis or based on something happening internally inside the child’s brain that we can’t see (such as, “she’s just frustrated so she’s biting her hand,” or “she doesn’t know how to control herself”). However, once you try it out and experience some success with addressing the true function of behavior, you’ll likely see the beauty of a simple explanation for why we behave.

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.

Simplifying the Science: Choiceworks App – Increase Self-Monitoring and Autonomy in Students with ASD

Finding the appropriate educational setting for individuals with autism can be quite challenging. And in working to provide the least restrictive environment, sometimes students are placed in classrooms where they can do the work but requires additional supports. This makes teaching self-monitoring all the more important as we strive to help our students attain independence in all areas.

A recent study by Miller, Doughty, & Krockover (2015) used an iPad app as part of an intervention to increase self-monitoring for three students with moderate intellectual disabilities in their science class. The goal was to increase autonomy in problem-solving activities linked the science lesson for that day. The app they used was called Choiceworks, which the authors described as: “a daily routine board maker [that] contains prompting tools to assist users through daily tasks. Checklists, schedule boards, activity timers, and a communication board can be developed using this system” (p. 358).

Over the course of a two-week period, each student was provided with three training sessions for how to use the iPad based on a task analysis the authors had devised. Skills taught included swiping, changing the volume, and operating the Choiceworks app. Next, the authors introduced five steps of problem-solving and provided mini-lessons on each of the steps. The authors used stories that required problem-solving, then taught the students how to use the app to navigate through the five steps of problem solving. Finally, the intervention was introduced in the science classroom.

All three students in this study significantly increased their independence in problem-solving. Furthermore, the results were generalized to solving problems related to daily living and were maintained over time.

The results of this study are important for several reasons. First, it demonstrates one method for increasing independence in individuals with developmental disabilities. Second, this increase in independence provides opportunities for more natural peer interaction since the individual with the disability will not have an adult always standing next to them. Finally, using a tool such as an iPad mini (as these researchers did) or iPhone is beneficial because many people are walking around with such devices, allowing individuals with disabilities to use a device to promote independence without increasing the threat of social stigma. The authors clearly show that, when provided with proper instruction, students with developmental disabilities can use the iPad mini to become more independent with both academic and daily living skills.

REFERENCES

Miller, B., Doughty, T., & Krockover, G. (2015). Using science inquiry methods to promote self-determination and problem-solving skills for students with moderate intellectual disability. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 50(3), 356-368.

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: Coin-U-Lator + Worksheets!

Learn about money with this fun and interactive coin-counting calculator. With reinforcing voice acknowledgements such as “Good Job!” or “Way to Go!” kids will enjoy learning how to count money and how to determine how much is needed to make a purchase with the Coin-U-Lator.

The Coin-U-Lator also comes with accompanying worksheets that offer lessons and further practice for learning how to count money. The workbook comes with 100 reproducible worksheets that are arranged in progressive levels of difficulty.

This week, save 15%* on your order of both the Coin-U-Lator and Coin-U-Lator Worksheets and get a head-start on teaching your young learner how to count money in a fun and engaging way! Use promo code COIN15 when you check out online.

*Offer expires on December 29, 2015 at 11:59pm EST. Offer is not valid on past purchases. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code COIN15 at check-out! Call our friendly customer service team at (800) 853-1057 with any inquiries.

7 Tips for Choosing Educational Apps for Your Learner

While tablets can provide a wealth of material for teaching all sorts of skills, it can be incredibly challenging to wade through all the mediocre or just terrible apps in order to find something worthwhile for your learner. Here are a few tips for finding apps that are appropriate for your learner’s skill level and interest.

  1. Use social media to get suggestions. I’ve found several apps that I love to use with my students simply through following facebook groups focused on apps in education or apps in special education. If you love twitter, following teachers may also help you get good recommendations.
  2. Look at websites such as teacherswithapps.com or graphite.org. Both of these websites are chalk full of recommendations and reviews from teachers, and both have sections devoted specifically to special education. Graphite.org, in particular, has great search capabilities for you to easily find apps based on subject matter, grade level, or skill type.
  3. Take a look at this exhaustive list from Autism Speaks. This list is focused on apps specifically for learners with autism, and it allows you to filter your search by category of app, age group, and type of device.
  4. Don’t ignore apps with in-app purchases! Many parents and teachers I speak with can’t stand in-app purchases. I’d like to re-label this as a free trial. You can take a look at the app, assess the quality on your own, and see if your child enjoys it. If it looks good, then you get to add content after you’ve tried it out.
  5. Look at the developers of apps you’ve already had success with. There are many app companies out there that are putting out consistenly good educational apps (Tiggly, Toca Boca, Pepi Play, Artgig Studios, and Motion Math just to name a few). So once I find a good app, I always look at the other apps created by the same company.
  6. If you’re a teacher, look for options to modify or individualize material. I always want to use an app with multiple students, so if I’m able to level the material or even add in individualized material, that’s ideal. For instance, Mystery Word Town just added an aspect to the game in which you can put in the individual learner’s target spelling words. What’s better than that?!
  7. Ask other parents, other kids, and your kid! You might find some of your favorite apps simply by starting the conversation with other people. You can even start a conversation by sharing your favorite app.

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: “Introducing Inference” Workbook

Teach inferencing and problem-solving skills to young learners with this comprehensive workbook by Marilyn M. Toomey! Our ability to infer or to draw conclusions given partial information is a cornerstone of our reasoning process. Guessing, implying, hinting, suggesting, supposing and reasoning are just a few of the mental processes in which we draw inference. Throughout Introducing Inference, students are encouraged not only to draw conclusions using inference, but to explain how they solved the problem at hand. The aim is to teach students that using inference in their reasoning process is using their best judgment.

The book starts out with pictures of objects, each with an obvious part missing and moves to sequenced events, with a part of the sequence missing. Finally, questions requiring answers that tell what is missing complete the path to learning this basic skill. For example, an image of bike with a missing wheel is accompanied by: “A bicycle is supposed to have two ____, but this bicycle has only one. One ____ is missing.”

Introducing Inference covers topics in:

  • Missing parts: animals, objects
  • Sequenced events
  • Missing parts: sequenced events
  • Predicting outcomes
  • Identifying intermediate events
  • Analyzing outcomes
  • Inferring causal events
  • and more!

Use our promotional code INFER15 at check-out this week to take 15% off* your copy of the Introducing Inference workbook!

*Offer expires on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 11:59pm EST. Promotion does not apply to past purchases. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code INFER15 at check-out! Call our friendly customer service team at (800) 853-1057 with any inquiries.