Sunday, 26 February 2012

Autism Education Resources for You

Going through my list on online resources, refreshing my mind and seeing what new material is out occurred to me that sharing these links was a great idea.

Here are some hand selected links, that I think are especially fantastic, educational gold you might even say.

Any sites that you could not live with out...please comment below and share the love!

IPAD for behaviour therapy

A magician never reveals her secret, but lucky for you I am not a magician, I am a here goes. For my birthday (mid Feb) I got an IPAD. I know all the ABA Therapists out there are gasping in excitement,, like I was upon discovery of the gift, so for this post I will sing my praises to goes. 
It may be old news that Apple is producing IPAD APPS that support language and focus in our kids, but until I had used it first hand, I could not have fathomed the results. I work with mostly early-learners; that means that whether old or young most of my clients are developing the foundational learning skills, which need to be targeted to ensure successful overall skill development. To say these skills are critically important would be an understatement. Again, this may be old news to some of you but bear with me as I get the ball rolling....
So my clients are always seeking early-learner profile goals, like for-example joint-attention (the ability to focus on the same thing, or subject, as somebody else), eye-contact (self-explanatory), following simple directions (come, sit, wait, say hi),  prolonged focus and increased attention-span, and willingness to accept feedback. Many early-learners on the spectrum struggle to reach these skills in a natural way, so we need to design systematic ways to teach them. Enter IPAD.

ABA has a bad reputation for being the jellybean science for exactly this reason. In the past, therapists were forced to motivate behaviour with reinforcement like edibles (jellybeans, m and ms, skittles, popcorn, chips, gummies) in order to create a motivating learning environment; of course, the principle of reinforcement is bang on, but the delivery is a bit flawed because it is hard to fade systematically, short of simply increasing the mean length of an interval, and it is not natural and not likely to occur as a natural consequence in the real world. My client is not likely going to have a teacher or a boss in the future that is going to say Nice work Jimmy, here is a bag of jellybeans for your hard work. (Unless you work for me, that is.)
*Disclaimer* There is a time and place for edibles, I am not knocking them and I use them occasionally on an a case by case basis, but...not as the universal way to motivate learning and never without a plan to fade it and pair with social reinforcement. Also, I use edibles freely as reinforcement with my staff and I do not think there is anything wrong with that :)
Bottom line is, in order to get away from the unnatural schedules of reinforcement, or modes of delivery (i.e. popping a jellybean into the child's mouth) we have to write programs that are intrinsically motivating for our clients. Enter IPAD.
The IPAD is just one way I have discovered that a teacher or therapist can capture a room, even when the room is full of early-learners AND competing stimuli. I use my IPAD to run manding sessions, receptive language targets, tacting sessions, vocal imitation programs, direct-instruction, verbal behaviour, speech, phonics, numeracy and so much more; I use it in a group, in one to one, with my pinky, with my a house..with a get it. 
The number of educational programs available is vast, and many are available for limited use without purchase. The number of sensory apps has impressed me, and the prolonged interest in the IPAD as a result, and as a reinforcer, is far beyond anything else available to me in-centre. It is rare that a single-reinforcer will serve as the motivating for an entire sessions, switching reinforcement helps keep things fresh, but with one IPAD I can not only switch the stimuli and reinforcement, and save time, energy and resources creating materials. Did I mention that voice-output systems are obsolete with the number of free assistance communication programs available in the App Store. I mean, they really thought of everything here.

To be continued...............

Sunday, 19 February 2012

ABA...The Game Changer. A brief history

I apologize for being MIA; things have been busy...valentines, our 100th day of school (see pic above, counting 100 jelly beans), my birthday, planning for summer camp, and all the regular stuff too. Hopefully (fingers crossed) we will have some exciting news to announce shortly about programs to come in the next few months...that is all I can say for now! 

Now where was I.....Right...I am always thinking of ways to simplify the behavioural jargon into read-able teacher and parent-friendly materials and then passing this along in attempts to infiltrate the teaching system...LOL What are Sunday's for right?! So,  I took these notes as I was watching the 2 videos provided by CARD and I thought I would post them for your viewing pleasure; find them here. Hope the notes are helpful for figuring a somewhat complicated history, and evolution of an incredible science. I think it goes without saying that I did not make any of this stuff up, it all came from a great video linked above and paraphrased below!

Happy reading!

The History of Behaviour Therapy/ABA

Thorndike introduces a revolutionary idea...consequence of behaviour matters (study conducted on cats); it is established that consequence increases or decreases behaviour. Thorndike calls it the Law of Effect. And it begin...

Watson-Pavlovian introduces...stimulus response. He says, no b.s. explanations about what we think; treat human behaviour like science. Make observations, take data, do math. Only study what we can measure.

Skinner introduces... digestive behaviour of rats; therefore, consequence matters...again, and still. Skinner came up with a lever-press system which released pellets of rat food to try and discover order in the world...But, the level jammed during the experiment..darn. He looked at the data (I assume electronically recorded somehow), and he sees a trend...when the lever was jammed the rats eventually stopped pressing the lever (he noted an extinction burst, and then gradual decrease). This applies to all species. 

Skinner goes on trying to explain the "Behaviour of Organisms" (written in the 30's) to extract the information and apply it to other things; he writes books, and becomes super famous for his work. He decides to use the theories, to "make the world a better place" (quoted from movie) which became the foundation of ABA, which we now call making "meaningful change in the world" quoted from every teacher I have ever had. 

ABA started, "application wise", on severe cases of individuals that society was "unable to impact"; demonstrated again, consequence impacts behavior so apply these principles to the behavior of the patients. First lesson,  nurses not to pay attention to the psychotic speech of the in-patients...what happened? The behaviour decreased. Again. 

In the 60's, it was confirmed again in application with kids with what we know call Autism Spectrum Disorder, that is--consequence still matters. This is revolutionary because it means the "problem" might be in the environment, not in the child's mind, emotional make up, or otherwise internal event. It was called the experimental analysis of behaviour back then. Lovaas came along and decided that kids were learning whenever they were awake; he then produced one of the only, and first, people to demonstrate an "overall" outcome for individuals with outcome. Game changer.

What we know now...
Problem behaviour is a learned behaviour that can be as easily unlearned, as learned.