DTT, is discrete trial training, gets its name from its discrete beginning and ending. It is a highly structured therapy that occurs in rapid succession. Tasks are presented until they reach a pre-determined mastery criterion. DTT is started with a cue to respond or instruction, and the child’s response is followed by reinforcement or correction. Each time the task is presented, the same components are used in the same structured manner, as instructed by the BCBA. Because of its standardized format, DTT is easy for multiple therapists to use consistently between sessions and settings.
DTT is most commonly used for skills that require repetition or are not intrinsically motivating. It is also commonly used for new skills. This method, by its very nature, reduces environmental variables that may interfere with or take control over a child’s learning experience.
NET, or natural environment training is what we, as parents, do with our children on a daily basis. NET occurs, as said in the name, in the natural environment. Here, a therapist will follow a child’s lead, taking advantage of a child’s natural interests and motivation to create learning opportunities. This method has many advantages! It can be used anywhere and opportunities can be created for many skills; communication, pretend play, joint attention, turn taking.
There are a few drawbacks to NET because there is not always a specific protocol or step-by-step instructions like in DTT. It can be difficult to keep up with a child’s interests and keep goals functional and the interests of a child can often change frequently. In addition, there are less obvious roles of a stimulus, reinforcer and consequence and there can be areas targeted for implementation can be limited.
Article written by Melissa Roberts, RBT
Extinction is a method used in ABA therapy to discontinue reinforcement previously given to challenging behaviors. The way we react to problem behaviors can sometimes increase rather than decrease the behaviors. Often times, this is done unintentionally. By modifying our response to the challenging behavior, we can decrease its occurrence.
Extinction is never the ONLY part of a behavior plan. Plans for problem behaviors are created by the child's BCBA, and involve determining the function of the problem behavior, changing our response to that behavior when it occurs by not attending to it, and teaching the child an alternative, functional, and appropriate manner to achieve the desired outcome.
During extinction, we often see an extinction burst, or an increase in the occurrence of the problem behavior. Sometimes a child will even resort to more intense behaviors or try alternative inappropriate behaviors when the original problem behavior no longer results in what the child wants.
Hang on!! This too shall pass … because you will not attend to it! By doing so, the child will learn that they should follow your instruction and choose the alternative, appropriate, and functional behavior that you are reinforcing.
If you adhere to this behavior plan, as instructed by your therapist, you will begin to see the behavior decline and over time, stop altogether.
Please beware!!! What's the worst you can do? The worst thing you can do is to start an extinction plan but occasionally give in. By occasionally giving in, you are only teaching your child that their behavior must reach a certain intensity or duration before you will response. In a manner of speaking, this will only intensify and prolong the initial behavior you were hoping to decrease.
So, stay strong and stick to your extinction plan!! You can do it! And we will help you.
Blog article written by Melissa Roberts, RBT
4 easy steps to help you contrive simple situations which will require communication!
Step 1. HOLD BACK! Make sure most preferred things are not readily available all the time.Put preferred items in clear boxes or bags within sight, but out of reach; tall shelves work great as well
Step 2. ENTICE! Play with your child’s toys and prompt them to use words (or PECS or other communication modalities) to reqest to also play
Step 3. FOLLOW THROUGH and hold your child up to what they can do! Follow through with communication and make sure they are asking appropriately then provide access to what they are requesting.
Step 4. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Try to practice this everyday in order to enrich your child’s environment with communication opportunities.
Below are some pictures of opportunities we've created in our preschool room! Bolts for the toy drill set are sealed in containers, coins for the popular coin bank are out of reach, but visible in a zip lock bag, and the ALL TIME favorite sensory table is roped off. These created opportunities to: ask for help, identify a problem (what's wrong? "I can't reach/it won't open), gain an adult's attention, and request for an item!
What are some things you can do in your home to create amazing communication opportunities?
Blog article written by Crystal Wilson, RBT and Elizabeth Ginder, MSSW, BCBA.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day. There are many ways to raise awareness and acceptance: through conversations, actions, reaching out to other superhero parents (our name for parents of our amazing clients), or simply sharing this picture to remind people that our kids are amazing individuals that love to learn, especially if we teach the way they can learn.
"PECS was developed in 1985 as a unique augmentative/alternative communication intervention package for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related developmental disabilities. First used at the Delaware Autistic Program, PECS has received worldwide recognition for focusing on the initiation component of communication. PECS does not require complex or expensive materials. It was created with families, educators, and resident care providers in mind, so is readily used in a range of settings." (PECS-Canada.com)
Frequently used to teach children with autism, this system works by allowing a child to view a field of two or more pictures, from which the child is allowed to select what they want or need. The child then picks a picture and gives it to a therapist or adult in exchange for the item.
Initially, the use of PECs is taught by teaching children to request highly preferred toys and activities. As the child’s knowledge expands and he or she becomes more comfortable communicating in this way, PECs can also be used to communicate varying needs, wants and instructions. These include things like locations, people, feelings, body parts, and common qualifiers and carrier phrases, such as “I want”, “Where’s the”, “I see”, etc.
Below is a wonderful step by step guide for PECS implementation.
Written by Melissa Roberts, RBT.
Flexibility (noun): The quality of bending easily without breaking
Flexibility is an important life skill. However, sometimes flexibility doesn’t come naturally and must be learned. Unlike other skills, flexibility isn’t something that can always be seen physically and is more abstract, sometimes making it challenging to know when and how to teach. Because of this, we need to make it a point to notice whenever our children are being flexible and provide consistent reinforcement! For example, a child might struggle with wanting pieces of a game set up the same way every time the game is played (i.e. all pieces in a straight line, lined up by color, etc.). As teachers and parents, we could start by prompting changes in routines/actions and reinforcing every time even the slightest hint of flexibility is detected, working to increase flexibility and gradually fade reinforcement. The end goal would be to have the child be okay with and not engage in challenging behaviors during changes that occur naturally or that another individual initiates. We want our children to have the delicate balance of being able to gracefully accept changes (bend) while still maintaining a sense of assertiveness for themselves (without breaking).
Written by Mary Hanks, M.Ed., BCBA
ABA is Functional. Unique. Natural.
Here's a great process to create a FUN ABA goal:
1. ABA goals are functional. This means goals are chosen because they are of importance to the child and the child's ability to be a part of the community. That is, within the family, school, at the grocery store, etc.
Sam (not an actual client!) is doing really well with his preschool peers and the teachers are excited to move him up to Kindergarten. Our goal is to work on Kindergarten readiness skills: playing with toys in a functional manner, reading grade level words/letter sounds, and identifying numbers.
2. Each child is unique. The first thing we have to do is find the appropriate motivation. Children don't fit into cookie cutter therapy programs. Every child is UNIQUE and will prefer different activities, experiences, foods, or toys. Identify a few of these highly preferred things your child enjoys.
Sam is pretty good at playing with a variety of toys, but ABSOLUTELY LOVES vehicles. In fact, this is the first thing he runs to during free play time and will sit for 15 minutes and play with airplanes and firetrucks. Sam will also consistently and quickly finish worksheets when told that he can play with vehicles after work.
3. Natural. A lot of people think that ABA only occurs at the table, but it actually occurs everywhere. ABA therapists may have to begin skill building at a table, but they will quickly work on generalizing skills to the natural environment. We want the child to be able to use all of that wonderful knowledge in all environments.
Time to piece it together! For Sam, we made a parking lot and filled in the parking spots with "targets." Programs covered during his therapy time included:
- Receptive and Expressive identification of words and numbers (park the airplane in spot 11, what is parked in the spot that says "that")
- Multiple step instructions (grap the red train, fill it up at the gas station, and park it in spot 20)
- Block imitation from a model (Vehicles need gas to go! build a gas station pump that looks like mine!)
- Following instructions (Parking lots need stores! Go get the pile of blocks and build your favorite store)
- Receptive and Expressive Categories (where are the numbers/words/vehicles, what vehicle do you want?)
- Math, Counting (how many empty spots do we have left? How many more vehicles need spots?)
- Positional words (put the airplane on top of the store)
- Yes/no/not (is this a firetruck? find the airplane that is NOT yellow)
- Answering questions (the kids on this bus are hungry...where should they go?)
Remember: It's important for children to play and have fun while they learn!
Written by: Elizabeth Ginder, MSSW, BCBA
It is my goal to make ABA as parent friendly as possible! Please take this short 5 question survey (EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT A CURRENT CLIENT!!).
Play skills and social skills should be a part of an ABA treatment plan and are absolutely important for children with autism or I/DD. Many parents eagerly place their child in social groups, play dates, or insist that their child participates in group activities. These are WONDERFUL if your child is ready, but can be difficult and stressful if they are placed in these groups too soon. First, ask yourself these questions to determine if your child is ready for play dates and social groups:
Does my child allow peers into his space and allow peers to touch his toys?
Is my child able to successfully sit and engage in leisure activities?
Does my child have an interest in toys and activities?
Is my child able to engage in parallel play and turn taking?
If you responded “no”, work with your child’s therapist to write specific play date goals into the treatment plan. If your child engages in frequent, aggressive behaviors or stereotypic behaviors, they may also struggle in play groups.
Simply placing a child in a group environment is NOT social training or an effective play date. Our goal is to teach a child successfully without having to constantly do “damage control.” If a child has a history of negative experiences with peers, your child may be very averse towards peers. Imagine how you would feel if EVERY time you walked into Kroger people bumped into you, yelled and screamed around you, and followed you around asking questions and stealing your shopping cart. If this was your experience every single time, you would most likely avoid grocery shopping. It is our goal to turn that aversive peer experience into an experience that is motivating and positive.
When I first begin play dates and social skills groups with early learners, I like to start with a peer model or sibling. Once certain goals have been mastered with a peer model, we can begin generalizing skills to other peers and environments. Remember, we want successful peer interactions...even if our play date is 8 minutes long! We can work up to that 30 minute karate class, the birthday party at the zoo, or some of the other amazing social groups Knoxville has to offer!
Here is a fantastic blog article on special needs playdates!
Remember, appropriate play skills includes more than sharing and sitting next to a peer. Other goals may include:
Keeping hands to self
Greetings, initiating and reciprocating conversations, staying on topic
Responding and asking questions
Social manners (i.e. asking “what happened” if someone is crying or very excited)
Problem solving with peers
Elizabeth Gagliardi, MSSW, BCBA
Sticker charts, M&Ms, and a few high fives is not an ABA program! How can a parent determine what an ABA program is and if it’s being implemented correctly?
When piecing together your ABA team, the first step is to make sure that the program and treatment is under the supervision of a certified professional. The BACB (the credentialing board for Behavior Analysts) restricts the practice of ABA to certified professionals (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) or individuals under direct supervision of certified professionals (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts and Registered Behavior Technicians).
After you have your professionals in place, evaluate the program using the
7 Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis: