Online Briefs & Learning Modules for Evidence-Based Treatment Strategies

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders holds an impressive wealth of information and resources for evidence-based practices for children with autism. We wanted to share their website as a resource to both parents and providers, since evidence-based strategies are so important in devising a home or school-based program for students with ASD. Specifically, we found the online learning and training modules by the NPDC on ASD to be extremely useful and – even better – accessible to anyone online.

For the following evidence-based practices (EBP), the NPDC on ASD has developed briefs with the following components:

  • Overview of the practice
  • Step-by-step instructions for implementation
  • Checklist to document the degree of implementation
  • References that support the efficacy of the practice

Each brief package comes in downloadable PDF formats for easy saving and printing. Some practices also come with downloadable data collection sheets and supplemental materials for teachers to use.

EBP Briefs 1

Additional resources provided by the NPDC on ASD include Learning Modules to accommodate children in early intervention (birth to 3 years).  The 10 Learning Modules touch upon:

  1. Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
  2. Functional Communication Training (FCT)
  3. Naturalistic Intervention
  4. Parent-Implemented Intervention
  5. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  6. Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
  7. Prompting
  8. Reinforcement
  9. Structured Work Systems
  10. Time Delay

Each module includes a pre-assessment, objectives, an overview of the evidence-based practice, detailed information about the use of the EBP, step-by-step instructions for implementing the practice, case studies, a summary, a post-assessment, frequently asked questions, and references at the end.

EBP Briefs 2

For more information on the NPDC, visit their website at www.autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu

Pilot Study Finds that Parent-led Early Intervention Can Reduce Autism Symptoms in Babies

Autism symptoms can display in babies as young as 6 months old. A new pilot study at the UC Davis MIND Institute found that parents could reduce symptoms of autism in babies under 12 months by using intervention treatments in the home as detailed in the Early Denver Start Model.

As reported in a recent Huffington Post article, the study involved parents and their babies between 7 and 15 months of age in a 12 week-long treatment conducted by parents in home-like environments. The treatment was based on the Early Denver Start Model and revolved around parent-child interactions, such as bathing, feeding, playing, and reading. Four comparison groups were also included: Those who were at a higher risk for autism because of an affected sibling; those who were at low risk; those who had developed autism by age 3; and those with early symptoms who received treatment at a later age.

At the start of the study, all babies displayed early signs of autism, such as low interest in interactions and repetitive behaviors, which increased by around 9 months. However, by 18 to 36 months of age, the children in the treatment group produced lower autism severity scores than the comparison groups who did not go through the treatment.

The Huffington Post article “Pilot Intervention Eliminates Autism Symptoms In Babies” highlights the importance of early intervention in autism treatment. While this research is highly preliminary, the findings show that therapy and early intervention are key factors in treating infants and children with early signs of autism, and possibly in reducing them altogether. This study offers hope for parents and professionals in helping their children succeed with more tools and resources for the earliest stages of autism.

Read more about the pilot study on Huffington Post here.

Tip of the Week: Minimize Tantrums with High and Low-Quality Attention

Recently I began working with a family who has a six year old boy with autism named Austin (all names and identifying details have been changed to protect confidentiality). His mother was describing Austin’s behaviors when he couldn’t have something he wanted. She told me about him hitting his parents and younger brother, sweeping all materials off tables and shelves, and throwing himself on the floor. She was worried that he might hurt himself or hurt someone else. She told me that when he started this behavior, they would say, “Stop hitting.” They had been doing this for months, but his behavior had not improved.

Later that week, she sent me a video of Austin having one of his “mega-tantrums.” It was exactly as she described, though there was one important detail she had missed. Austin consistently sought out eye contact and physical contact with both of his parents. If they were moving around to pick up an item, he would move his body and face to maintain eye contact. If one of them sat down, he would quickly clamber into their lap while screaming and pounding their arms or the furniture. If one parent walked out of the room, he would immediately run to the other parent. This behavior was clearly maintained by attention. In order to decrease the behavior, his parents had the very difficult task of ignoring it ahead of them.

The next week I went out to their house to help them practice ignoring the behavior. We put in place a three-pronged plan:

  • When Austin wanted something he was not allowed to have, he would be given a choice of options. The options should be for preferred activities. For example, if he wants to watch TV but isn’t allowed to right now, the parent can say, “Austin, you can play with trains or you can do a puzzle.”
  • Once Austin starts hitting or screaming, he does not receive any attention. This includes eye contact, physical contact, and verbal prompts/reminders from his parents.
  • The parents can start one of the motivating activities in another location. For this family, the parents sat with the younger brother at the dining room table and the mother read a book out loud.

As I had forewarned the parents, Austin’s behavior initially intensified as he realized he was getting zero attention. He took a box of toys, turned it upside down, and dumped it all over the floor. His mother kept reading to his brother. He ran over to his father and hit his legs while screaming, the father got up and walked away. Then, Austin did something he had never done before. He climbed up onto the table and started walking around on the edge of it.

His mother looked at me and said, “How do I avoid giving him attention for that?” This is when it’s important to consider high-quality attention and low-quality attention. In order to keep him safe, his mother needed to be more proximal. She walked near where he was on the table, but did not pick him up, did not make eye contact, and did not speak to him. (I let her know that if she felt he was very unsafe, she could pick him up and remove him from the table but quickly letting him go, and withholding eye contact and verbal interaction.) She stayed nearby to catch him if he fell, but she did not provide attention for this dangerous behavior. Her proximity (or if she had chosen to pick him up off the table without eye contact or verbal interaction) constitutes low-quality attention. High-quality attention is only saved for appropriate behavior.

Think about what high-quality attention means for a young child: big facial expressions, expressive tones of voice, big movements, and physical contact. Prior to our intervention, Austin was getting all of those types of high-quality attention for inappropriate behaviors. But now he wasn’t getting any of that type of attention.

However, Austin had been engaging in inappropriate behaviors for attention for 2-3 years now, so changing this behavior takes a little time. For our first day of the intervention, Austin continued to yell and throw items for 40 minutes before he finally went over to where his mom was sitting and reading aloud the story (actually, the third story in a row). When he was near and quiet, his mom started reading in a wonderfully expressive tone, adding voices to the characters. Austin came closer. When a funny part of the story happened, Austin laughed. And then Austin’s mother encouraged him and his brother to imitate the characters in another part of the story. After he imitated the characters, he sat next to his mom and she put her arm around him. All of these high-quality forms of attention were now being given for appropriate interaction.

Sometimes you have to provide some attention in order to keep a child safe, but think to yourself what is high-quality attention for your learner: it may be tickles, silly faces, expressive speaking, or physical contact. Reserve those things for appropriate behaviors.

A few final notes about this intervention: (1) Austin’s inappropriate behaviors will probably still continue for a little bit longer. I’m certain that he will test it out a few more times, and his parents will have to stick to the intervention in order to completely get rid of what they had deemed as “mega-tantrums”; (2) This intervention only works for behaviors maintained by attention. If you’re uncertain about the function of a behavior, confer with a BCBA or an ABA provider for help; and (3) If you’re not certain you can follow through if the behavior persists for a long time (such as 40 minutes in Austin’s case) then give in the first time the learner asks. For more information on this, look back at my tip on Choosing When to Battle.

Newly Released: The VB-MAPP Guide, 2nd Edition

VB-MAPP Guide 2014 Cover.inddUpdate: The Second Edition of the VB-MAPP Guide has just been released. The 2nd Edition of the VB-MAPP Instructor’s Manual and Placement Guide contains an upgraded description of how to use Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior for language assessment, the assessment instructions, and the specific scoring criteria for each of the 170 milestones. In addition, the manual contains a placement guide that offers specific suggestions for programming and direction for each of the 170 milestones achieved, as well as suggestions for IEP goals for each skill presented in the three levels of the VB-MAPP.

Don’t worry – the Guide is still compatible with the original Protocol! The Second Edition of the VB-MAPP Guide corresponds with the existing VB-MAPP Protocols and will not affect any Protocols you currently own.

Bulk discounts will continue to apply to the VB-MAPP Guide, 2nd EditionSave 10% on the unit price if you buy 10 or more, and save 20% if you buy 25 or more of the Guide.

Pick of the Week: “The Cow Says Moo” – 10 Tips to Teach Your Toddler to Talk

Teach your child to communicate with words and expand his or her language skills with the new early intervention guide The Cow Says Moo. And this week only, you can take 15% off* your purchase of The Cow Says Moo by entering in our promo code MOO15 at check out!

The Cow Says Moo is an early intervention guide that teaches parents easy-to-use, common-sense strategies for helping their children learn to communicate. The 10 tips and appendices filled with songs, checklists, and resources rely on the same methods that practitioners use when providing direct home-based speech therapy to toddlers and their families.

Tips focus on things like giving your child a reason to talk, using sign language, oral motor exercises, finding the right word, pairing movement with sound and more.

This simple guide delivers speech therapy activities that any parent can implement right away.

Save 15%* on your order of The Cow Says Moo this week by mentioning or entering in promo code MOO15 at checkout.

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EDT on July 1, 2014. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no dashes or spaces in your code at check out!

Introducing Little Mixers: A Weekly Social Skills Playgroup in Brooklyn

Little Mixers BklnStacy Asay, one of our wonderful and beloved consultants, is launching the Little Mixers series, a social skills group based in Brooklyn! Headed by Stacy and Sharon Alkalay, this weekly Little Mixers series will be a special mix of fun, food, and friendship for young children between the ages of 3 and 7. Sessions will be held at Beansprouts at 14th Street and 6th Avenue in Park Slope.

Each meeting will consist of a guided lesson, group discussion, interactive games and a cooking activity, all thematically focused around a particular social skill. Each week a new social skill will be introduced with the session, culminating in an expanded repertoire of social skills and perhaps a new friend!

Parents will be provided a hand-out with suggestions and strategies to practice throughout the week in order to facilitate carry-over of a target skill.

Little Mixers will be holding 2 sessions for Spring/Summer 2014:
Mondays: 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (ages 5-7)
Thursdays: 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (ages 3-5)

For more detailed information, please visit the Little Mixers website at www.littlemixersbrooklyn.com, or email Stacy Asay at littlemixersbrooklyn@gmail.com.

About the Group leaders

Sharon Alkalay, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist with over 8 years of experience working with infants, toddlers and children. As a classically-trained musician, she enjoys incorporating multi-modal/multi-sensory techniques into her therapy sessions through use of music, art, movement, sensory integration and dramatic play. She believes that successful engagement with a child should be accomplished gracefully with creativity, humor and compassion. Her special interests include working with children with social-language difficulties, apraxia of speech, autism spectrum disorders and language/learning disorders.

Stacy L. Asay, LMSW, is a licensed social worker, providing home and school based services to children and their families in the New York City area. With nearly 16 years of experience, her work with special needs children integrates a strengths-based, holistic approach to child and family augmented with the tools of Applied Behavior Analysis, a methodology that allows for reliable measurement, objective evaluation of behaviors, and the systematic teaching of language and learning skills.  This results in an individualized curriculum that equips children with the tools they need for learning and living while honoring their unique spirit.

Here’s What Was in YOUR ABA Toolbox

Thank you to all who participated in our ABA Toolbox giveaway last week! We’ve received some wonderful responses and feedback from parents, teachers, and therapists on their favorite products from our catalog and how they are using it with a special child, and we are thrilled to be sharing them with you!

Our biggest goal in this endeavor was to share with you the unbelievable wealth of experience and knowledge our community of parents, teachers, and therapists have in using our products in innovative and creative ways for their ABA programs.

 

Continue reading

Pick of the Week: Early Intervention Resources

It’s a fact that Early Intervention leads to positive outcomes for our children. Understand the key principles of Early Intervention approaches with our two newest additions to our early intervention books, The Early Intervention Workbook and Early Intervention Every Day! These reference books cover evidence-based intervention approaches, as well as the best practices on implementation.  Buy one or both of them this week only and save 15%* by using our promo code DRLEI15 at check out.

The Early Intervention Workbook: Essential Practices for Quality Services was written for current and future early intervention providers of all disciplines who are looking to maximize their efficacy. The entire early intervention process is broken down into seven key principles with detailed tips, activities, and strategies on both what to do and how to do it. The workbook covers referral, initial visits with the family, evaluation and assessment, IFSP development and implementation, and supporting a smooth transition out of EI. The authors strive to empower professionals to make positive change happen on both a personal and systemic level by identifying and focusing on successful evidence-based intervention approaches and providing guidance on actual implementation. This is a comprehensive book for group training or independent work, and a great reference.

Effective early intervention doesn’t stop when the provider leaves a family’s home. For parents and caregivers, Early Intervention Every Day! is a practical sourcebook packed with research-based strategies that demonstrate how take a consistent, active role in supporting young children’s development. Targeting 80 skills in six key developmental domains for children birth to 3, this guide also gives professionals loads of ready-to-use ideas for helping families embed learning opportunities into their everyday routines. The guide empowers families to work on IFSP goals during recurring activities, such as grocery shopping or riding in the car, and to give children opportunities to practice and reinforce new skills throughout the day, along with many other strategies for helping children with developmental delays participate more fully in family life.

Remember – this week only, you can save 15%* on your order of either or both The Early Intervention Workbook or Early Intervention Every Day! by using promo code DRLEI15 when you check out online!

*Offer expires at 11:59pm ET on April 15, 2014.  Not valid on past orders or with any other promotions and offers.  Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: Tiggly Shapes (with Free Shipping!)

We’re really excited to share Tiggly Shapes with you: the first interactive iPad toy designed for toddlers. You have to see it to believe how cool and versatile this new product is.

Tiggly Shapes combines the essential educational benefits of physical play with the learning potential and fun of the iPad. This simple set of four geometric shapes interacts with three free apps to create an ideal learning environment for children. Tiggly Shapes melds the best of what the digital world has to offer with the developmental importance of manipulative play in toddlers and preschoolers.

Our Board Certified Behavior Analyst Sam Blanco just put together a review for Tiggly and how she uses it with her students. Read it in full here.

This week only, we’re offering FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING on Tiggly Shapes. Just enter the Promo Code TIGGLY at checkout and simply select FREE UPS or USPS Shipping. This makes a perfect holiday gift for the child in your life.

Seventy years of academic research has demonstrated that manipulating physical objects is essential to early childhood development. Tiggly enables parents to bring this critical component of early learning to the “digital sandbox” today’s kids inhabit. The product consists of a simple triangle, circle, square, and star that become interactive when used with the three Tiggly apps to create a robust learning experience.

Tiggly Shapes and apps are designed for children ages 18 months to 4 years old.

The Apps, available for free on iTunes, are:

Tiggly Safari
Use the shapes to construct friendly and adorable animals for the jungle, farm and sea.

Tiggly Safari Screenshot Learn basic shapes with Tiggly Safari!

 

 

 

 

 

Tiggly Stamp
This app has a great voice record and camera option that allows you to create an image, tell a story and record it. Use the shapes in this app to build seasonally-themed scenes using everything from jack-o’-lanterns to igloos.

Create animals, fruit, and other characters with Tiggly Shapes.Create a story with Tiggly Shapes and Stamps!

 

 

 

 

 

Tiggly Draw
Channel your inner artist and use the tablet as a blank canvas to create your masterpiece.

Tiggly Draw Screenshot

Exercise creativity by taking and saving photos!

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, this week only, get free domestic shipping on your order of Tiggly Shapes when you enter in the promo code TIGGLY at checkout!

**Offer expires 12/17/13 at 11:59pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces in the promo code at checkout!

Meet Stacy Asay, LMSW, ABA Provider and Different Roads Consultant

StacyDo you believe in fate? Many years ago, after a particularly grueling day, Stacy thought, maybe it would be nice to have a 9-5 job. On a whim, she contacted Different Roads inquiring about job opportunities. When we saw her resume and credentials, we nearly jumped out of our seats with excitement. Of course, luckily for all of us, Stacy realized her calling was in the field working directly with children but she’s been consulting with us ever since.

Stacy has worked with us on so many projects, each one intended to bring our customers the best materials we can and create a community for all of us to be a part of. She has provided invaluable input on product selection, contributed informative and practical blog posts and been an irreplaceable source of information on the realities of providing ABA services and being an Early Intervention Provider. We don’t know what we would do without her!

Stacy worked on the development of our robust app, Tell Me About It! Teaching Language by Receptive Function, Feature and Category. She developed and created Hooray for Play! Leading Learners Along the Path to Play. These flashcards break down the components of 31 individual play schema cards into the three organized sections that provide a memorable framework for socio-dramatic play. The Do! Section explains the various roles, Say!! outlines possible scripted statements by the involved actors and Play!!! offers suggestions for props and set-up.

We asked Stacy a few questions about her work and what keeps her inspired:

Tell us about a particularly influential child you’ve worked with and how it impacted your approach to EI?

Wow, this is a really hard question!   Without a doubt each student I have had the privilege of working with has provided insight into my work with children and families in invaluable ways.  I can’t pinpoint one student out of all of my sixteen years that has single handedly impacted my approach in any quantifiable way because the process has been more cumulative than that.  However, I have learned to accept that I will constantly be surprised by my students and am reminded everyday to just set the bar high no matter what the initial presentation of the student is.  It is only natural that parents and colleagues take the current level of the child’s functioning and try to extrapolate that because facing the unknown is always hard but I try and remind myself and others that programmatic decisions can’t be made based on what we think might happen or how we assume learning and development may unfold.  Instead we should enlist our creativity and collaborative efforts to teach what is socially relevant and appropriately challenging for that particular student in that moment.

If you had one piece of advice to teachers or therapists just entering the field, what would it be?

I would have to say “Be flexible!”  Our students have a diagnosis characterized by rigidity in thought and behavior and often ABA therapists meet a child’s rigidity with their own rigidity about the right way to teach something just because it worked with the child before. Or perhaps you will teach “Sam” to tact colors using flashcards because that is how it is “supposed to be taught” without any consideration to individualizing the teaching conditions, addressing individual specific motivational issues or without concern for the lack of generalization or increased prompt dependency.  ABA is a science that employs a systematic analysis of external conditions or factors that either increase or decrease the likelihood of a behavior.  Within that we have infinite possibilities to harness the science in a way that is best for an individual child and a myriad of opportunities to model flexibility for our student through our own behavior.

BIO

Stacy L. Asay, LMSW is a licensed social worker, providing home-based Early Intervention services to children and their families in the New York City area.

After graduating from Hunter College with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she went on to complete a Master’s of Science in Social Work from Columbia University in 2006 and completed the course requirements toward board certification in May of 2013.

With nearly sixteen years of experience, her work with special needs children integrates a strengths-based, holistic approach to child and family augmented with the tools of Applied Behavior Analysis, a methodology that allows for reliable measurement, objective evaluation of behaviors, and the systematic teaching of language and learning skills.  This results in an individualized curriculum that equips children with the tools they need for learning and living while honoring their unique spirit.

Currently, Stacy’s professional interests lie in the realm of developing new methods and tools for the effective teaching of play skills.