Pick of the Week: NEW! Inferencing Card Sets

Help students improve their inferencing skills with these brand new inferencing cards we’ve just added to our catalog! This week, you can save 15%* on the Inferencing Quick Take Along! Mini Book or the WH Inference Question Cards by applying our promo code INFER15 at check-out!

The pocket-sized Inferencing Quick Take Along! Mini Book is perfect for the busy speech-language pathologist, special educator, teacher, or parent. Help students practice their inferencing skills by responding to 520 prompts in 13 different categories covering: Actions, Categories, Cloze Sentences, Context Clues, Descriptive Clues, Emotions, Locations, Naming Tools & Devices, Occupations & Jobs, Problems & Solutions, Pronoun Antecedents, and Time & Seasons.

This small 5″ x 3″ book is spiral-bound, so you can easily flip pages and keep it open to the page you’re working on. The sturdy, laminated pages are tear-resistant and easy-to-read. Includes an Answer Key.

WH Inference Question Cards is a robust set of five card decks ideal for helping students reach the next stage of Wh-development, once they have mastered the basics. Each deck contains 56 double-sided cards that provide clues and hints to answer various Wh- questions. Side A has a colorful picture and a Wh-question (“Why is Karla waving?”). This picture provides clues that the children must use to infer the correct answer. Side B has a second, related picture and the answer (“She is going on a trip”).

The durable tin comes with 5 decks for Who?, What?, When?, Where?, and Why? Questions, each on a long-lasting metal ring for convenient use and storage. Leave the cards on the color-coded rings as you teach, or easily remove them as needed. Each of the 56 cards in the five decks measures 2½” x 3½”.

Don’t forget – you can take 15% off* either or both of these inferencing card sets by using our promo code INFER15 at check-out this week!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on February 24th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Tip of the Week: Stop Behavior Early in the Behavior Chain

Recently I was working with a family to toilet train their son Jonathan, a six-year-old with autism. (Names and identifying characteristics have been changed to protect confidentiality.) When he eliminated in the toilet, part of his reinforcement was getting to watch the water go down the toilet after flushing. At some point, he developed the behavior of putting his hands into the toilet water as it was flushing.

When I went in to observe the behavior, one of my goals was to identify the steps in the behavior chain. Pretty much everything we do can be viewed as part of a behavior chain, in which one action is a cue for the following action. For Jonathan, each time he placed his hands in the toilet water, the behavior chain looked like this:

Pulled up pants
Stepped towards toilet
Pressed button to flush toilet
Stepped back
Watched water as it flushed
Stepped forward again
Leaned down
Put hands in water

Behavior chains can be even more detailed than the one above, depending on the needs of your learner. Identifying the steps in the behavior chain for an undesirable behavior can have a huge impact on your interventions. For Jonathan, we were able to stop the behavior of putting his hands in the toilet water by interrupting the behavior early in the behavior chain. It’s too late and unsafe to stop him once he’s leaning forward to put his hands in the water. Through prompting, which we faded as quickly as possible, we changed his behavior chain to this:

Pulled up pants
Stepped towards toilet
Pressed button to flush toilet
Stepped back
Watched water as it flushed for 3-5 seconds
Stepped towards sink
Leaned forward
Turned on water
Put hands in water

Instead of waiting for him to engage in the inappropriate behavior, we redirected him several steps earlier in the chain, providing a gestural prompt toward the sink and had him start washing his hands 3-5 seconds after he had started watching the water flush. This was ideal for two reasons: first, it was the expected step in an appropriate toileting behavior chain and second, it provided an appropriate and similar replacement behavior since Jonathan was still able to put his hands in water.

This behavior chain was relatively easy to change. While it may not be as easy in some interventions you may try, it’s essential to remember to stop the behavior early in the behavior chain. It’s much easier to give a child an activity that requires use of their hands as soon as you see them lift their hands out of their lap than it is to remove their hand from their mouth if they’re biting it. And it’s much easier to redirect a child to put their feet back under their desk than it is to get them to stop once they’re sprinting out of the classroom. Looking at the behavior chain and considering when to intervene as a part of your intervention plan is quite possibly the extra step that will make your plan successful.


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: NEW! Socially Savvy – An Assessment and Curriculum Guide for Young Children

No child should be left to flounder in a confusing world of social nuances and expectations. Social competencies pave the way for a child to have fun at birthday parties, resolve conflicts with friends, feel heard, and stand up for oneself.

As our Pick this week, we’re thrilled to feature our newly printed assessment and curriculum guide Socially Savvy. Get your copy for an introductory price of only $39.95!

Socially Savvy: An Assessment and Curriculum Guide for Young Children helps educators and parents break down broad areas of social functioning into concrete skills. The included checklist pinpoints a child’s specific strengths and challenges—which in turn makes it possible to prioritize the skills most in need of intervention, develop strategies to address them, and track the effectiveness of those strategies.

This manual includes targeted, play-based activities that foster the development of social skills critical to a joyful childhood and future academic success. Socially Savvy is designed for all parties—from educator to the parent—working with children in planned and naturally occurring opportunities to help develop essential social skills. This manual serves as a resource to make both learning and teaching social skills a fun, rewarding experience. This guide:

  • Introduces the Socially Savvy Checklist and how to effectively integrate it
  • Describes the 7 areas of social development in detail
  • Provides skill-specific sample IEP objectives
  • Offers detailed step-by-step teaching plans
  • Includes 50 specific games and activities for teaching targeted social skills
  • Offers specific ideas on progress assessment and data collection
  • Shares two case studies to illustrate the process from initial assessment to intervention and data collection

DRB_277_View_Inside

Soft cover, 256 pages, by James T. Ellis, PhD, BCBA-D and Christine Almeida, MSEd, EdS, BCBA.

Don’t forget—you can get your copy of Socially Savvy: An Assessment and Curriculum Guide for Young Children for our introductory price of only $39.95 for a limited time. No promo code necessary.

Pick of the Week: Emotion-oes – Like dominoes, but for identifying emotions!

This newly added game will put a smile on any child’s face! With 56 domino-like cards, Emotion-oes for 2–6 players is especially useful for students who are nonreaders. Players will learn to recognize emotions and identify feelings in facial expressions. This week only, save 15%* on your set of Emotion-oes by using our promo code EMOTIONO at check-out!

To play the game, each player is dealt five Emotion-oes facedown and must match the face on one end of his/her Emotion-oe to one end of the Emotion-oe displayed in the center. An instruction sheet also includes variations on the game for even more fun!

Don’t forget to use our promo code EMOTIONO at check-out to save 15%* on your set of Emotion-oes this week!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on January 27th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Tip of the Week: How to Avoid a Deficit-Based Education

One of the obstacles I face as a special education teacher is that so much of my work is focused on deficits. I am continually required to report on the milestones my students have not met. After assessing a student, I am required by law to report quarterly progress on IEP goals to help bring that student up to grade level.

Teacher and ToddlerAll of these mandates are essential to helping my students to progress, but they also serve to overlook my students’ strengths. There is little space on an IEP to focus on what my student is quite skilled at, or to detail a plan for encouraging those skills. The long-term implications of failing to nurture a student’s strengths range from increasing boredom and frustration in school to failing to prepare students for engaging careers.

Students in the general education population typically have many opportunities for nurturing strengths because they frequently have more free time since their days are not packed with various therapies, and they have access to extracurricular activities and courses that may not be available to students in special education. So how can we, as parents and teachers of students in special education, address this concern?

  • Set aside part of each team meeting to discuss developing student strengths. Your team should be asking questions such as: What activities does the student naturally gravitate towards? What can we do to expand and encourage these activities? What extracurricular groups and classes might be available that are related to this activity? What social skills or academic skills are essential to encouraging this strength?
  • Consider extracurricular activities. Is it viable for your family to add a music lesson to each week? Or to reduce therapy sessions by one hour each week to allow for practice with a track team? Can the school provide support for your learner to have access to the computer design class?
  • Push for access. Most IEPs have social skills goals listed. Consider the context needed for your learner, and push for that to be written into the IEP. For example, let’s say your learner is highly motivated by digital cameras. Request that he/she be placed in a photography class with associated social skills goals, such as “The student will be able to accept feedback about a photo and demonstrate use of feedback in 4 out of 5 trials,” or “The student will be able to work in a group of 3–4 students to take photos related to a theme.” When considering what is an appropriate education for your learner, it is definitely appropriate to outline social skills related to student interests and strengths, especially as these may lead to employment later down the line.
  • Find mentorship. Seek out high school or college students with common interests and strengths to offer tutoring/coaching in that area. Ask people you know if they have friends or family members working in the profession your learner is interested in, because they may be able to set up job-shadowing for you. Don’t rule out the potential of connecting with people via video chatting if you can’t find mentors in your area.

It is essential for the long-term interests of children in special education that we spend more time considering and encouraging their strengths.


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: Everybody Can Cook – Enriching cooking curricula for children of diverse developmental abilities

Brand new and hot off the press, this cookbook is not your average cookbook for children. With enriching curricula accompanied with adaptations to fit all developmental abilities, this cookbook goes beyond simply providing recipes to use in the classroom.

Everybody Can Cook was developed to allow instructors in both general and special education classrooms to bring hands-on cooking classes to children of all abilities, ages 2 and up, and to foster a positive relationship between children and food.

This week only, save 15%* on your order of our newly added Everybody Can Cook: Enriching cooking curricula with adaptations for children of diverse physical and developmental abilities by using promo code COOK15 at check-out!

Included in the cookbook are 15 recipes and lesson plans, each complete with:

  • shopping and equipment lists
  • related books and songs to enhance learning
  • pictorial recipes
  • adaptations for various physical and developmental abilities
  • ingredient substitutions for dietary restrictions and allergies
  • visual learning cards (pictured below)

DRB_441_Everybody_Can_Cook_Samples

Children strengthen their motor skills, self-esteem, socialization, teamwork, and independence through cooking and practicing basic cooking skills. In addition, they will enhance skills in other traditional disciplines such as reading, mathematics, science, social sciences, nutrition, music, art, history and geography. The Creative Kitchen offers training workshops on implementing the curriculum. Spiral bound, 124 pages, by Cricket Azima.

Don’t forget to use our promo code COOK15 at check-out to take 15% off* your order of Everybody Can Cook!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on January 20th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Tip of the Week: Read Books from the Autistic Perspective

If I were to describe my job in one sentence, it would be this: My primary goal is to increase the independence of my students in ways that are meaningful to them and to their families. With that goal in mind, it makes sense that I would seek out input from my students and their families, but also seek out writings by people with autism, Asperger’s, and other developmental delays in order to gain a comprehensive picture of needs, desires, and issues of which I may be unaware.

Sometimes a book or article written by an individual with autism hits the news in a big way. I encourage you to read more than one book, because you’ll quickly find that each individual’s experiences and personalities are quite different. It is not helpful to read the perspective of one person with a developmental disability and apply it to all people with developmental disabilities, but this frequently happens with autism. Here are a few resources you may want to check out:

 

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida – This book was all over the news last year. Set up as a series of questions and responses, Higashida answers all sorts of questions related to autism. His writing is very direct and he shares a lot about the emotions he feels but is unable to convey.

 

 

Any books by Temple Grandin – Temple Grandin is a force in the autism community and has provided a wealth of resources. You can read some of her early work, such as Thinking in Pictures to get a view inside the mind of an individual with autism, but I also have great appreciation for her later work as an advocate for people with autism, such as Different…Not Less.

 

 

Episodes by Blaze Ginsberg – This is one of my all-time favorite books. Ginsberg sets up his life experiences and relationships as if they were different seasons of television shows. He presents his teen years as if you were flipping through the channels, seeing different episodes of his life. He even has songs for each episode!

 

 

Finding Kansas by Aaron Likens – This one is unique because it is written by a man who was diagnosed with Asperger’s in his 20s. Likens is eloquent in his use of metaphor to help clearly define aspects of his behavior.

 

 

www.wrongplanet.comWrong Planet is a community forum for individuals with autism and their families. You will see a wide range of questions and opinions here. It also serves as a forum for individuals with autism to express their feelings about topics such as whether or not they prefer people-first language, how people with autism should be depicted on TV, legislation related to autism, and more.


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: 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.

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