We’ve extended our Language Builder promotion! Save 30% and more!

Great news for those of you who might have missed our 3-day promotion for our Language Builder sets! We’ve extended our sale to last through next Tuesday, April 28th. Just use our promo code BUILDER15 at check-out to redeem these savings below on all of our Language Builder card sets until next Tuesday:

We’re offering a value bundle of the Language Builder Picture Cards and the Picture Noun Cards 2 together for only $155 (a $234 value)! You’ll be saving over $75 with this bundle! Just add the bundle to your cart—no promo code necessary.

 

Everyone’s favorite—the Language Builder Picture Cards—is a 350-card set that teaches key language concepts to children with autism or other speech and language delays. With vivid, beautiful noun cards created by a parent and professional experienced in the program needs of ABA, this set will foster receptive and expressive language skills. Get the individual set of the Language Builder Picture Cards for $149 only $110—just apply our promo code BUILDER15 during check-out!

We’re also letting you SAVE 30% on any of our individual Language Builder sets, Picture Noun Cards 2, Emotions, and Occupations.

The Language Builder Picture Noun Cards 2 is a 200-card set of photographic noun cards for building additional vocabulary in students who have mastered the original Language Builder Picture Cards. This set is great for labeling practice, as well as sorting, adjectives, functions, things that go together, storytelling and more.

 

The Language Builder Emotions Cards depict facial expressions and emotions by presenting various scenarios featuring men and women of various ages and ethnicities. This 80-card set will help students identify and discuss different feelings and emotions, inviting discussion about a range of emotions, why people may feel a certain way, and possible responses to these feelings.

The Language Builder Occupations Cards is a complete set of photographic cards that depict community workers, both male and female, in each occupation. There are 115 cards featuring 61 different occupations. Each photo is depicted in a natural setting with plenty of contextual clues and reinforcers illustrating that occupations are not gender specific. The set is ideal for teaching occupations, community helpers, gender labels, pronouns, storytelling and more.

*Promotion expires at 11:59pm EST on 04/28/2015. Not valid with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check-out!

Autism Awareness Month Interview Series: Behavior Analysis and Speech Pathology: The Perfect Pairing for Speech Acquisition with Barbara Esch, BCBA-D, CCC-SLP

This week, we are absolutely honored to bring you an exclusive interview with the esteemed Barbara Esch, BCBA-D, CCC-SLP. Dr. Esch has made incredible contributions to the fields of both Behavior Analysis and Speech Pathology. In this interview with Sam Blanco, Dr. Esch shares important teaching techniques on developing language, setting developmentally appropriate goals, and addressing feeding issues. An enormous thank you to Dr. Esch for her invaluable insight.

Don’t forget to check out the other interviews in our Autism Awareness Month Interview Series here.


Behavior Analysis and Speech Pathology: The Perfect Pairing for Speech Acquisition
with Barbara Esch, BCBA-D, CCC-SLP

SAM BLANCO: As someone who is both an SLP and BCBA, how do you envision the two fields collaborating?

BARBARA ESCH: Professionals in each field, behavior analysis and speech pathology, bring unique and critical information and skills to an instructional team. Behavior analysis offers a science-based technology based on our field’s theoretical perspective, which allows us to analyze the contexts in which learning occurs (i.e., antecedent and consequent events) as well as to identify faulty learning and to efficiently remediate error responses and to remove possible obstacles to further skill acquisition. Of particular importance in understanding and teaching language skills is Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior (Skinner, 1957). This analysis provides us with the critically important understanding of how we acquire language skills; it dispels the faulty notion that the words we say, in a connected language context, are stored in our head someplace to be retrieved when we need them; rather, we say them as a function of the related environmental context, as mands, tacts, and as other verbal operants. This analysis is absent from traditional language assessments (for a discussion of this topic, see Esch, Lalonde, & Esch, 2009), so the field of behavior analysis fills this gap and provides not only a conceptual analysis but also a powerful teaching technology that allows us to extend language learning from one context (e.g., mand) to another (e.g., intraverbal).

Speech pathologists have specialized information and skills regarding the physical system that controls speech sound production, voice quality, swallowing, and, to some degree, hearing. The instructional team benefits from an SLP’s in-depth knowledge of how speech occurs, the physiology of the speech-production system, and how we move our vocalization musculature to produce various speech sounds. Speech pathologists know how to help speech learners make these movements more fluently. They understand the speech requirements for this fluency (i.e., co-articulation) and this expertise allows them to pinpoint specific speech targets in a logical hierarchy of speech sound acquisition.

SB: In the past, you have written that “Speech Language Pathologists are ideal professionals to be included on an ABA team.” Can you share why you think this is true? What steps can SLPs and ABA providers take to promote shared input on goal-setting and program-creation for clients?

BE: Yes, as you suggest, that comment was in the context of shared goals (“Speech language pathologists are ideal professionals to be included on an ABA team since its members are focused on providing effective and efficient instruction, much of which is geared toward speech and language acquisition.” (See http://www.asatonline.org/researfch-treatment/clinical-corner/integrating-aba-and-speech-pathology/)

An ABA team is an instructional team that uses applied behavior analysis to promote student learning. As such, effective team members are knowledgeable in the principles of learning and are skilled at applying the technological procedures that derive from those principles (for example, reinforcement, prompting, prompt fading, shaping, discrimination training, and so on).

There are several steps SLPs and ABA providers can take to promote shared input in designing and carrying out instructional programs for their clients. First, it’s important to recognize that all professionals on an “ABA team,” by definition, should be knowledgeable and skilled in delivering this technology during instruction. That is, members of the ABA team should consider themselves “ABA providers” if they are applying behavior analysis (i.e., ABA) to the delivery of instruction. Thus, teachers, SLPs, technicians, parents, other therapists, behavior analysts, and any others on the team can all be considered “ABA providers” to the extent that they are knowledgeable and effective “appliers” of the learning technology from the field of behavior analysis. Next, each professional can resist the urge to claim ownership over the program and its development. I think the best way to do this is to acknowledge areas of expertise that each member brings to the team and to work together to bring their varied expertise to bear on program development. As an ABA team, goal setting should occur within the context of a behavior analytic perspective. The process can be enriched through the collaborative input of all team members. So, another way team members can promote shared input is to support other team members in learning cross-disciplinary skills or at least in familiarizing themselves with the special expertise of each individual team member.

SB: Developing verbal skills for children with autism is an important goal for everyone involved with the student. Can you describe the first steps you use in selecting developmentally appropriate goals for a particular student?

BE: The VB-MAPP (Sundberg, 2008) is a strong resource in pinpointing developmentally appropriate goals for learners with skills at the pre-school level. This assessment identifies milestones and component skills in 16 critical verbal and non-verbal areas as well as providing an assessment of existing learning barriers that may preclude the acquisition of these important foundation skills. When I look at a child’s VB-MAPP, some priority areas that seem to be “king-pin skills” are imitation, mand, play/leisure, and listener responding. That is, these are some of the first skills I like to see in place as “supporting skills” for the others. If a child can imitate, then I know s/he values people and their attention (thus, we can teach social skills as well as address many of the learning barriers that may be present). Also, since echoing is a type of imitation, I’m encouraged if a child who isn’t yet speaking is beginning at least to imitate gross- and/or fine-motor models. If a child can imitate, then we can teach him/her to mand (either through speech, sign, or picture selection) and, thus, establish language as powerful and personally beneficial. If a child has play/leisure skills, then all the items connected with those play skills are potential reinforcers for other skill learning. This, in turn, can strengthen learning to persist at a task (i.e., stronger reinforcer value for instructional items/activities); this task persistence allows a child to effectively access other instruction from teachers. If a child can respond as a listener, then we can expand his/her cooperation and follow through with more complex instructions, eventually leading to responding both verbally and non-verbally after time delays (i.e., remembering). So, the “king-pin” skills, although not exclusively important, are strong supports for further learning.

SB: You developed the Early Echoic Skills Assessment for the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP). Can you describe the development of this tool and how practitioners should best utilize it?

BE: Dr. Mark Sundberg, author of the VB-MAPP (Sundberg, 2008), was interested in providing an assessment tool (and placement guide) that aligned with typical development of children from birth to 4 years. He wanted to include an echoic assessment that would reflect the details of this vocal skill for children in this age range and asked me if I would provide it. The Early Echoic Skills Assessment (EESA) is a criterion-referenced assessment of skills in echoing 1-, 2-, and 3-syllables in various vowel and consonant combinations, utilizing those consonants that would be expected developmentally from birth through 30 months. (Note: Echoic skills are only tested and reported on the VB-MAPP at Levels 1 and 2 because, by 30 months of age, these skills typically have been acquired; thus, there are no EESA items tested at VB-MAPP Level 3.)

The EESA can be helpful for clinicians and practitioners by pinpointing two critical skills: (1) echoic consistency and accuracy and (2) syllable fluency. For echoic consistency, we want to know if the child consistently says anything after an echoic model. If an echoic*, regardless of its accuracy, does not occur consistently (e.g., at least 90% of the time), then treatment can start with simply differentially reinforcing any vocal response that follows an auditory model, without regard for the accuracy of that response. In other words, the first skill to establish in speech training is to “say something” when the teacher asks you to. The next task, informed by the EESA, would be to determine the accuracy of the echoic response. That is, how closely does the child’s response match the vowels and consonants of the teacher’s model? An accurate description of any discrepancies here can serve as a template for target identification.

Finally, the EESA tells us if there is a fluency breakdown in terms of the child’s ability to repeat multiple syllables on one breath at a connected speech rate of about 3 syllables per second. This fluency is critical for normal-sounding speech, but we often see a teaching error related to this that makes fluency less likely to develop. Let’s say that you ask a child to repeat a 3-syllable utterance (e.g., computer, cookie please, let’s go play, where’s daddy?) and s/he omits one or more of the syllables. Often, when practitioners (teachers, parents, therapists) notice that a child omits some of the syllables in a phrase, they will break the phrase apart and reinforce the separate segments. For example, they might instruct the child: “say let’s” (good!), “say go” (that’s right!), “say play” (good job!). This is essentially training the child to emit 1-syllable utterances at a time and doesn’t increase the likelihood that the child will say “Let’s go play” as a unit nor that the phrase will ever occur as normal fluent speech. So, the EESA allows us to pinpoint the child’s current skill in terms of how many syllables s/he can say easily without omitting whole syllables, and it informs the next steps. Thus, treatment can focus on reinforcing, first, easy-to-produce consonant/vowel combinations in phrases of increasing syllable length and then, after that, increasing the phonemic complexity of these consonant/vowel combinations in even longer syllable-length vocalizations.

*An “incorrect echoic” is technically, according to a verbal behavior analysis, not an echoic at all. But this technicality will be set aside for this discussion, to make it easier to understand the 2 critical skills that are often missing in early speech learners: first, repeating a vocal model consistently, and then, repeating it accurately.

SB: Many parents and practitioners struggle with feeding issues in their learners with autism. Are there resources that you would recommend? Do you have tips/suggestions for them?

BE: You’ve identified one of the most challenging issues for parents and teachers of children with autism. Of course, it’s imperative first to rule out any medical concerns related to eating (accepting food, chewing it, swallowing it, and digesting it). So, the child’s pediatrician and other health-care professionals would be key initial contacts in moving forward to identify and resolve feeding issues. If no medical concerns are identified and behavioral treatment is not contraindicated, then it’s important to identify the behaviors related to feeding that have brought this concern to the forefront. Many children are picky eaters (e.g., no veggies; only sweet food) and some have unusual preferences (e.g., no food touching other food on the plate; no red food). Another common issue is texture preferences (e.g., nothing chunky that requires chewing). Some children accept so little food that their nutrition is compromised. Still others will accept food but keep it packed in their mouths and won’t swallow it. And, of course, many children engage in problem behavior that interferes with appropriate feeding (e.g., refusal to sit at the table, refusal to self-feed, refusal to open mouth, crying/tantrums during mealtime).

Fortunately, the behavior analytic literature is replete with research into on feeding issues. Much of this research comes from Dr. Cathleen Piazza, her colleagues, and her students over the years. Dr. Piazza is currently Director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE. Another well-published behavioral researcher in pediatric feeding disorders is Dr. Meeta Patel, a former colleague of Dr. Piazza and founder and executive director of Clinic 4 Kidz. The collective work of Drs. Piazza and Patel and others, much of which can be found in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, has greatly informed the assessment and behavioral treatment of feeding disorders.

These are references for some of Dr. Piazza’s work (from her website):

Publications (within the last 5 years)

Rivas, K. M., Piazza, C. C., Roane, H. S., Volkert, V. M., Stewart, V., Kadey, H. J., & Groff, R. A. (in press). Analysis of self-feeding in children with feeding disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 47(4), 710-722.

Wilkins, J. W., Piazza, C. C., Groff, R. A., Volkert, V. M., Kozisek, J. M., & Milnes, S. M. (in press). Utensil manipulation during initial treatment of pediatric feeding problems. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 47(4), 694-709.

Groff, R. A., Piazza, C. C., Volkert, V. M., & Jostad, C. M. (in press). Syringe fading as treatment for feeding refusal. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 47(4), 834-839.

Volkert, V. M., Peterson, K. M., Zeleny, J. R., & Piazza, C. C. (2014). A clinical protocol to increase chewing and assess mastication in children with feeding disorders. Behavior Modification, 38(5), 705-29.

Bachmeyer, M. H., Gulotta, C. S., & Piazza, C. C. (2013). Liquid to baby food fading in the treatment of food refusal. Behavioral Interventions, 28(4), 281-298.

Kadey, H., Piazza, C. C., Rivas, K. M., & Zeleny, J. (2013). An evaluation of texture manipulations to increase swallowing. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 46(2), 539-543.

Volkert, V. M., Piazza, C. C., Vaz, P. C. M., & Frese, J. (2013). A pilot study to increase chewing in children with feeding disorders. Behavior Modification, 37, 391-408.

Addison, L. R., Piazza, C. C., Patel, M. R., Bachmeyer, M. H., Rivas, K. M., Milnes, S. M., & Oddo, J. (2012). A comparison of sensory integrative and behavioral therapies as treatment for pediatric feeding disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 45, 455-471.

Vaz, P. C. M., Piazza, C. C., Stewart, V., Volkert, V. M., Groff, R. A., & Patel, M. R. (2012). Using a chaser to decrease packing in children with feeding disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 45, 97-105.

Dempsey, J., Piazza, C. C., Groff, R. A., & Kozisek, J. M. (2011). A flipped spoon and chin prompt to increase mouth clean. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 949-954.

LaRue, R. H., Stewart, V., Piazza, C. C., & Volkert, V. M. (2011). Escape as reinforcement and escape extinction in the treatment of feeding problems. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 719-735.

Groff, R. A., Piazza, C. C., Zeleny, J. R., & Dempsey, J. R. (2011). Spoon-to-cup fading as treatment for cup drinking in a child with intestinal failure. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 949-954.

Wilkins, J. W., Piazza, C. C., Groff, R. A., & Vaz, P. C. M. (2011). Chin prompt plus re-presentation as treatment for expulsion in children with feeding disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 513-522.

Vaz, P. C. M., Volkert, V. M., & Piazza, C. C. (2011). Using negative reinforcement to increase self-feeding in a child with food selectivity. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 915-920.

Rivas, K. R., Piazza, C. C., Kadey, H. J., Volkert, V. M., & Stewart, V. (2011). Sequential treatment of a feeding problem using a pacifier and flipped spoon. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 387-391.

Volkert, V. M., Vaz, P. C. M., Piazza, C. C., Frese, J., & Barnett, L. (2011). Using a flipped spoon to decrease packing in children with feeding disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 617-621.

Tang, B., Piazza, C. C., Dolezal, D., & Stein, M. T. (2011). Severe feeding disorder and malnutrition in two children with autism. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 32(3), 264-267.

Rivas, K. D., Piazza, C. C., Patel, M. R., & Bachmeyer, M. H. (2010). Spoon distance fading with and without escape extinction as treatment for food refusal. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43, 673-683.

SB: You’ve published research about behavioral treatments for early speech acquisition. Can you briefly describe your research? What do you think are important research questions in this area for the future?

BE: There are few behavioral treatments for early speech learners (i.e., individuals who haven’t acquired speech as would be developmentally typical). Further, the research on these treatments is not particularly robust at this point; either there is a paucity of studies available or the outcomes are inconsistent. It’s an area ripe for research because we need effective and efficient ways to jump start vocal behavior in individuals who haven’t yet acquired an echoic response. It’s not too difficult to teach someone to talk if they will repeat when asked to “say ___,” but without that echoic response, we must work to establish vocalizing in general as a “preferred activity,” producing a “preferred stimulus” that automatically reinforces the vocalizing that produced those sounds (i.e., babbling, vocal play). If we have that, then we can bring those vocalizations under the control of direct contingencies of reinforcement, as functional verbal behavior (e.g., mands, tacts). This post-babbling speech training is critical, because parents, teachers, and other caregivers in the child’s verbal community need to have their own vocal-verbal behavior reinforced by the child’s speech responses to them. Without that reciprocal interaction of vocalizing in context (i.e., speaker/listener), the frequency of functional speech interactions can spiral downward with resulting isolation for both speakers and listeners.

So, the first step in teaching speech to non-vocal learners is to establish an available pool of varied vocalizations that the child readily says that can then be reinforced by the child’s verbal community. Following the earlier work of behavioral researchers (e.g., Miguel, Carr, Michael, 2002; Sundberg, Michael, Partington, & Sundberg, 1996; Yoon & Bennett, 2000; Yoon & Feliciano, 2007), my colleagues and I have reported investigations (Esch, Carr, & Michael, 2005; Esch, Carr, & Grow, 2009; Petursdottir, Carp, Matthies, & Esch, 2011) of stimulus-stimulus pairing (SSP), a conditioning treatment aimed at increasing vocalizations in non-vocal or low-vocal learners by pairing certain sounds with preferred items/activities. As mentioned, if SSP induces vocalizations, the goal is then to apply direct reinforcement to establish these vocal responses as mands, tacts, echoics, and other verbal language skills. Another behavioral treatment is vocal variability (VV) training, aimed at increasing novel and varied vocalizations in speech learners who may emit some vocalizations but that tend to be repetitive (i.e., invariant). However, to date, there are only 2 published VV studies with low-vocal speech learners (Esch, Esch, & Love, 2009; Koehler-Platten, Grow, Schulze, & Bertone, 2013), although we have some research that has investigated increasing the variability of rote language responses with already-competent speakers (Lee et al., 2002; Susa & Schlinger, 2012).

In an effort to increase speech in non-vocal children, other studies have looked at comparisons of SSP with operant discrimination training (Lepper, Petursdottir, & Esch, 2013) and preceding echoic trials with a series of gross- and fine-motor imitation opportunities (i.e., RMIA procedures reported by Ross & Greer, 2003; Tsiouri & Greer, 2007). Investigations such as these may yield useful treatments for early speech learners.

There is much we don’t know about why children fail to learn to talk. We assume that success in speech learning is based on (a) hearing and attending to human voice, (b) valuing those sounds and combinations of sounds via a previous conditioning history, and (c) possessing a physical system that produces sounds similar to those with the conditioning history (i.e., the sounds of the child’s verbal community). If we assume that the child’s speech-producing mechanism (c above) is intact, then we can focus our research efforts on (a) and (b). In fact, SSP and VV training are targeted at increasing “sound value” and RMIA studies are aimed at increasing attending and responding to (i.e., imitating) rapid visual and auditory models. In a discussion related to these skill sets, Petursdottir et al. (2011) offer several important areas for future research. One is that of determining whether human speech (the auditory stimuli in speech training) is, indeed, a preferred stimulus for the learner (that is, does it “sound good” to the child?). Another is to identify the effects of such stimuli on the vocal responses of the speech learner. If the speech sounds of a child’s environment lacks reinforcing value, then what do we need to pair it with and in what conditioning procedure to ensure that it becomes a “preferred stimulus” that the early speech learner can produce himself by making those sounds? Another topic is the salience of auditory vocal stimuli; this has not been adequately measured and identified. It would be helpful to know whether a speech learner has, indeed, observed relevant speech sounds such that these are discriminable and evoke responding.

Additional Reading

Esch, B. E., LaLonde, K. B., & Esch, J. W. (2010). Speech and language assessment: A verbal behavior analysis. The Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis, 5, 166-191.

Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Sundberg, M. L. (2008). VB-MAPP: Verbal behavior milestones assessment and placement program. Concord, CA: AVB Press.

ABOUT BARBARA ESCH, BCBA-D, CCC-SLP

Barbara EschDr. Barbara Esch, BCBA-D, CCC-SLP, is a behavior analyst and speech pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in behavioral interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities. She has worked in school, home, clinic, and hospital settings. Her workshops, training symposia, and research have been presented in the United States, Europe, and Australia, and focus on the use of behavioral procedures to improve speech, language, and feeding skills for individuals of all ages with a wide range of medical and educational diagnoses. Esch received her PhD in applied behavior analysis from Western Michigan University and her MA in speech pathology from Michigan State University. She is the author of the Early Echoic Skills Assessment, part of the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program: VB-MAPP (Sundberg, 2008). She is the founder and past chairperson of the Speech Pathology Special Interest Group of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. Her research on behavioral treatments for early speech acquisition appears in The Analysis of Verbal Behavior and the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Esch is co-owner of Esch Behavior Consultants, Inc., a consulting company specializing in behavioral treatments for individuals with severe communication delays.

Pick of the Week: SAVE on Language Builder Sets – 3 Days Only!

This is a deal you won’t want to miss this week!  We’re discounting the prices of ALL of our Language Builder sets – the best selling picture cards series among special education professionals.

The Language Builder Card Sets are the most widely used photo language flashcards for teaching key language concepts to children and adults with autism, developmental delays, or speech/language delays. All of the cards measure the same 3½” x 5″ so coordinating the flashcards is a breeze.

DRK_LB1We’re offering a value bundle of the Language Builder Picture Cards and the Picture Noun Cards 2 together for only $155 (a $234 value)! You can get Sets 1 and 2 of the Language Builder Picture Noun Cards and save over $75. Just add the bundle to your cart—no promo code necessary!

Everyone’s favorite—the Language Builder Picture Cards—is a 350-card set that teaches key language concepts to children with autism or other speech and language delays. With vivid, beautiful noun cards created by a parent and professional experienced in the program needs of ABA. This set will foster receptive and expressive language skills and are ideal for higher learning, including functions, storytelling, and more. The set includes images in nine basic categories: Animals, Foods, Vehicles, Furniture, Clothing, Toys, Everyday Objects, Shapes and Colors. Stage One is comprised of 105 cards that present two identical images on non-distracting white backgrounds. These basic cards foster matching, labeling and categorization skills. The remaining cards round out Stage Two, which presents the images in their natural settings, enabling children to conceptualize and generalize. This week only, you can get the individual set of the Language Builder Picture Cards for $149 only $110—just apply our promo code BUILDER15 when you check out with us!

The Language Builder Emotions Cards depict facial expressions and emotions by presenting various scenarios featuring men and women of various ages and ethnicities. This 80-card set will help students identify and discuss different feelings and emotions. Half of the images are presented against a plain background, showing only the upper body and face, clearly depicting a single emotion. The remaining cards show people engaging in real activities and situations in natural settings and contexts. This invites discussion about a range of emotions, why people may feel a certain way, and possible responses to these feelings.

The Occupations Cards is a complete set of photographic cards that depict community workers, both male and female, in each occupation. There are 115 cards featuring 61 different occupations. Each photo is depicted in a natural setting with plenty of contextual clues and reinforcers illustrating that occupations are not gender specific. The set is ideal for teaching occupations, community helpers, gender labels, pronouns, storytelling and more.

 

*Promotion expires at 11:59pm EST on 04/23/2015. Not valid with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check-out!

Pick of the Week: Social Skills – Set of 6 Board Games

This value set of six visually stimulating board games targets good social skills and behavior. The six social skills games included in the set cover Morals, Manners, Empathy, Showing Emotions, Friendship, and Managing Emotions. This week, you can take 15% off* your set of Social Skills: Set of 6 Board Games by using promo code SOCSKILLS at check-out!

Each game supports the development of social and emotional skills and the consolidation of those already learned. This set of board games provides a comprehensive approach to promoting the social and emotional skills that underpin effective learning, positive behavior, regular attendance, staff effectiveness, and the emotional health and well-being of students.

DRG_083_Social_Skills_Set_of_6_Board_Games_Preview

The set includes: 6 games made from durable cardboard measuring 16¼” x 11½”, 24 colored counters, 1 die, and 1 spinner.

Don’t forget to use our promo code SOCSKILLS this week to save 15%* on Social Skills: Set of 6 Board Games!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on April 21st, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Autism Awareness Month Interview Series: Developing Social Skills With Young Learners with Mary Jane Weiss, PhD, BCBA-D

This week, we’re excited to share the second installment in our series of exclusive interviews with autism experts for the month of April, featuring Mary Jane Weiss, PhD, BCBA-D. In this interview with BCBA Sam Blanco, Dr. Weiss discusses some of the most effective ways for parents and practitioners to develop social skills in young children, as well as some of the most common errors that are made in teaching these important skills.


Developing Social Skills with Young Learners
with Mary Jane Weiss, PhD, BCBA-D

SAM BLANCO: What advice do you have for parents of young learners who are concerned about social skills?

MARY JANE WEISS: Well, we all need to be concerned about social skills. One related issue is social motivation. If a learner is socially interested, social skill training is considerably easier. If not, we need to work on making social interaction meaningful and rewarding. What are the favorite activities of this child? How can we embed ourselves into them? Can we teach manding for them so that we grant access? Can we create social routines within them? How can we make something that is not yet social begin to be social?

SB: What are activities parents can engage in to help their learners develop stronger social skills?

MJW: Parents are in a great position to teach social skills, because there are endless opportunities to use as teaching moments.  Think of requesting: there are countless moments in every day to work on requesting – food, drinks, snacks, tissues, a ball, to go outside, to play a game, to make a silly face…Imitation too is so easy to work on and the list of things to imitate is long.  Can your child imitate how you clean the table, sweep the floor, load the dishwasher, open the mail, help a younger sibling do a puzzle? And joint attention: capture the unusual moments in every day and create a social exchange around them!

SB: When considering social skills for young learners, what are the first skills you focus upon?

MJW: Imitation, Joint Attention, Manding… I think we have to start with these.  They are core socio-communicative skills.  Many higher order skills require these foundations.  And I think we need to focus on pairing ourselves with great things to naturally build approach behaviors and naturally reduce avoidance behaviors.

SB: Many parents and practitioners are concerned about eye contact. Can you talk about that skill? Why is it important? Do you start with eye contact? 

MJW: There are many opinions about this.  I was trained to be aware of the ways in which eye contact can be trained to be non-functional.  For example, if we ask for eye contact before every instruction, we run the risk that learners will depend on that cue in order to attend/be ready for ANY OTHER instruction.  That is not a desired outcome.  On the other hand, the absence of eye contact is very stigmatizing, and does not invite social bids.  Here are some ideas for making it functional:

  • Build eye contact through engaging playful interaction.
  • Try not to over-rely on any attentional cue (but especially not “look at me”).
  • Experiment with more natural ways to get eye contact on command (e.g., in response to name or given as a group instruction to all).

SB: Are there any common mistakes you see in teaching social skills?

MJW: YES, thanks for asking that question! The biggest mistake I have seen is teaching social skills in rote and contrived situations that do not represent natural experiences. When we teach a list of social questions, we are not necessarily helping learners to develop social conversation skills. We do not ask people their name, address, favorite food, and siblings’ names as conversation (beyond the first day of meeting someone!). We need to teach CONTEXT. We do not ask someone about their weekend each time we see them on Monday. We only do that the FIRST time.  Sensitivity to context is often absent from social skill instruction.

Also, I see people focusing on responsivity to questions.  We need to broaden the responsivity training.  In fact, many social exchanges start with comments.  Someone comments about something, and we respond with comments or questions.  Most children with autism are taught to respond to questions.  Sometimes, they do not even realize that a comment is a social opportunity.

Finally, we need to teach INITIATION skills.  How do we start a conversation, ask someone to play with us, ask for something we need, request to join a game?  We have to balance our instruction in responding with instruction in initiation!

SB: There’s a common misconception that ABA is solely teaching skills at a table in discrete trials. How can ABA be useful in teaching social skills?

MJW: ABA can be useful in teaching a wide variety of social skills well beyond DTI!  I really like the work on scripts.  I also like the way Jed Baker has outlined social skills training for non-vocal learners.  I absolutely love the Crafting Connections curriculum; it is so focused on socially valid skills.

SB: What resources do you recommend to parents?

MJW: There are several curricular resources that I think can be useful.  Some of my favorite books are:

The Social Skills Picture Book: Teaching play, emotion, and communication to children with autism
Jed Baker (Author)
ISBN: 978-1885477910, Publication Date: 2003

Building Social Relationships: A Systematic Approach to Teaching Social Interaction Skills to Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Social Difficulties
Scott Bellini (Author)
ISBN: 978-1931282949, Publication Date: 2006

Social Skills for Teenagers with Developmental and Autism Spectrum Disorders: The PEERS Treatment Manual
Elizabeth A. Laugeson and Fred Frankel (Authors)
ISBN: 978-0415872034, Publication Date: May 20, 2010

Teaching Conversation to Children With Autism: Scripts And Script Fading
Lynn E. McClannahan and Patricia J. Ph.D. Krantz (Authors)
ISBN: 978-1890627324, Publication Date: 2005

Crafting Connections: Contemporary applied behavior analysis (ABA) for enriching the social lives of persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Mitchell Taubman, Ron Leaf, and John McEachin (Authors)
ISBN: 978-0975585993, Publication Date: 2011

I also really like the book series below:

  • Joy Berry series of books (Help Me Be Good series)
  • Cheri Meiners series of books (Learning to Get Along series)

SB: Is there any particular assessment you recommend practitioners use to assess social skills?

MJW: There are a variety of assessments that target social skills. Some are useful for group interaction (e.g., the ABLLS-R has a section on classroom relevant skills……).  The VB-MAPP has some elements that are very socially relevant, including the Barriers Assessment and the Transitions Assessment.  Those assessments help to identify individuals that may be ready for more group instruction or more naturalized instruction.

SB: Are there any particular studies you direct practitioners to that are related to social skills training for individuals with autism?

MJW: I really like the work of Justin Leaf and his colleagues at Autism Partnership.  Their elegant studies have been real contributions to the empirical literature.  Bridget Taylor has also done some excellent work, including in some centrally important areas such as joint attention.

ABOUT MARY JANE WEISS, PHD, BCBA-D

Mary Jane WeissMary Jane Weiss, Ph.D., BCBA-D has been working as a behavior analyst serving people with autism for over 25 years. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University in 1990, and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2000. She is currently a Professor of Education at Endicott College, where she directs the graduate programs in ABA and Autism. She previously served as an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, and as Director of Research and Training and as Clinical Director of the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University for 16 years. Her clinical and research interests center on defining best practice ABA techniques, on evaluating the impact of ABA in learners with autism spectrum disorders, and in maximizing family members’ expertise and adaptation. She is a regular presenter at regional and national conferences on topics relevant to ABA and autism. She is a past president of the Autism Special Interest Group of the Association for Behavior Analysis, a former member of the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts Board of Directors, and she currently serves on the ethics review committee of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, on the Scientific Council of the Organization for Autism Research, on the Legislative Affairs Committee of the New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis, and on the Board of Trustees of Autism NJ.

Pick of the Week: NEW Curriculum – “Teaching the Basics of Theory of Mind”

Using principles from cognitive behavioral therapy, this evidence-based curriculum Teaching the Basics of Theory of Mind by Kirstina Ordetx, PhD, is designed to enhance social understanding in children with autism or other social challenges. With lesson plans, activity ideas, worksheets, reproducible flashcards, and reinforcement activities for use at home, this curriculum is ideal for use with children who demonstrate challenges with the prerequisite skills, leading to successful social relationships and situations.

This week only, you can save 15%* on your order of Teaching the Basics of Theory of Mind by using our promo code TOM15 when you check out online or over the phone with us!

This curriculum includes 42 unlabeled Feelings Photo Cards (Student’s set), 42 labeled Feelings Photo Cards (Instructor’s set), 28 Feelings Word Cards, 8 Follow the Eye Picture Cards, 12 Riddle Cards, 4 Picture Clue Cards, 8 “As If” Cards, 7 Point of View Prompt Cards, and 9 Me vs. We Cards.

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on April 7th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Free Weekly “Teens Social Skills Group” at YAI in New York Begins in April

The YAI Autism Center in New York City will be hosting free social skills groups every Thursday for teens aged 15–18 years and on the autism spectrum starting on April 23, 2015. This social skills group will promote positive peer relationships among teens through role playing, recognizing emotions, social stories, and modeling. This group is ideal for teens who can independently engage in conversation.

Group Information
Time: Every Thursday from 4:00–5:00 pm EST
Location: 460 W. 34th Street, New York, NY 10001

For intake information, please contact Michelle Lang at (212) 273-6238 or at michelle.lang@yai.org.

Pick of the Week: NEW! Question Challenge Card Game

The Question Challenge Card Game is an expressive and receptive language card game that targets social and reasoning skills in young learners. This game will target skills in staying calm through self-talk, predicting, questioning in conversation, determining perspective, inferencing, cognitive flexibility, intonation, body language, and more. As they play the game, students will practice skills necessary for effective communication and problem solving.

To play the game, one player turns over a Challenge Card and reads it out loud, stating which player will answer and how many questions he or she will answer. The player asked to answer then flips over a Question Card and answers the question on it. If the student answers appropriately, he or she spins the electronic spinner and receives the lighted number of tokens. The player with the most tokens at the end of the game wins!

This week, you can also save 15%* on your set of the Question Challenge Card Game by using our promo code QCGAME at check-out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Includes 300 color-coded Question Cards, 50 Challenge Cards, 225 Bingo Chips, and 1 Electronic Spinner.

Don’t forget to save 15%* this week on the Question Challenge Card Game by using promo code QCGAME when you check out online or over the phone with us!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on March 31st, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: “On My Own” Activity Kits

Teach important daily living, vocational, and social skills that pave the way to independence and success to young learners with these brand new On My Own activity kits. Early learners can follow the visual cues and step-by-step directions to complete activities and art projects related to a variety of skills in daily life, such as cooking, setting the table, and creating art projects that develop gross and fine motor skills.

This week only, use our promo code ONMYOWN to take 15%* off either the On My Own: Year-Round Art Fun or the On My Own: Art, Cooking & Life Skills learning kits.

In On My Own: Art, Cooking & Life Skills, each activity is shown completed and is followed by a checklist of materials along with the directions. Young learners will be able to complete the tasks independently as they develop important vocational and recreational skills.

In On My Own: Year-Round Art Fun, learners will get to complete various arts and crafts projects independently, pairing visual cues and text from 30 different activity cards, while gaining confidence.

Don’t forget to mention or apply our promo code ONMYOWN this week only to save 15%* on either or both of these learning kits when you check out online or over the phone with us!

Pick of the Week: NEW Workbook on Developing Receptive & Expressive Language Skills

Help young learners develop expressive and receptive language skills with this comprehensive workbook filled with 33 reproducible lessons! This week only, you can also take 15%* off your order of “Developing Receptive & Expressive Language Skills in Young Learners” by SLP Jean Gilliam DeGaetano. Just use our promo code JDGLANG during check-out online or over the phone with us.

Each lesson in this workbook is accompanied by an Instructor Worksheet page that covers 4 sections of questions involving answering “Yes” or “No,” responding verbally, or responding non-verbally by pointing to the correct answer. “Developing Receptive & Expressive Language Skills in Young Learners” is a great workbook that provides a variety of techniques, with adequate repetition within each to develop receptive and expressive language skills in both verbal and non-verbal children, mainstream ages 3–7.

Don’t forget to apply our promo code JDGLANG at check-out to save 15%* on your order of “Developing Receptive & Expressive Language Skills in Young Learners” this week!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on March 10th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!