Shaping – 3 Key Points

Forgive me for starting with a definition (I know it can be boring). Understanding shaping improved my practise so much. Shaping is the process of systematically and differentially reinforcing successive approximations to a terminal behaviour (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007). Simply put, it’s breaking a skill down in to small achievable steps and reinforcing those steps along the way until you reach the end product. I’ll elaborate on some of the key points of shaping.

Differential Reinforcement

It’s kind of like performance related pay (not completely) – but if your child/learner responds better (i.e. closer to what you’re working towards), the more reinforcement they get. Take learning the word

‘bubbles’ for example, when Felix (my son) first said ‘buh’ for bubbles, I blew loads of bubbles and praised him. When he eventually got this to ‘buh buh’ after several trials (a trial is counted as one time he requests bubbles), this was reinforced a lot, and ‘buh’ no longer cut it. The bar had been raised. After several more trials this shaped to ‘bubbles’, this is what received lots of reinforcement and ‘buh buh’ no longer cut it. 

Another common example parents may be familiar with is if a child asks for a drink, and parents hold back until the child says ‘can I have a drink please’  – only when please is used will the parent reinforce the request with providing a drink.

One last example is me getting take away pizza on a Saturday. I set the bar as being able to get this if I exercise three times that week for 30 minutes, and only get it if I do, exercising twice will not get me a takeaway (big reinforcer). Once I’ve achieved this, I will set the bar to 4 times a week for 30 minutes in order to get the takeaway – 3 times no longer cuts it.

Successive Approximations

This is all about systematically shifting the criteria for when reinforcement is delivered for a behaviour (raising the bar little and often). It’s all about breaking down a skill from start (unestablished skill) to finish (established skill consistently done well). How many steps are needed for a behaviour depends on the skills the child already has (pre-requisite skills). Here’s a couple of examples;

  1. My little man learning to walk. We (parents, adults) can play a big part in shaping behaviour, even learning to walk. The first step Felix took on his own we went crazy (cheering, cuddles, clapping, smiles etc). After doing this a few times over the next couple of weeks our reinforcement became less enthusiastic (the magnitude of reinforcement was less) and more intermittent. But if he then did two steps, we went crazy again – reinforcement was still ‘up for grabs’ but the criteria had changed. This continued all the way till he started walking confidently on his own.
  2. Shaping a word. Like the example I outlined above, bubbles are a favourite item for me to use at home and also in sessions. Children who are in the early stages of learning to talk may begin my making approximations of words. My son would say ‘buh’ for bubbles, and the first time we heard this we gave him loads of bubbles! This continued the first few times and as it became more consistent, we systematically faded reinforcement. From this point we raised the bar/shifted the criteria to ‘buh buh’ – this is what would now get him LOADS of bubbles. Once this became consistent, we shifted the criteria to ‘bubbles’ (the terminal behaviour – the end goal).
  3. A teacher shaping writing with a pencil. First a teacher may try to build motivation for mark making with any instrument (paint brush, chalk, crayons etc), once the learner enjoys mark making they may prompt an appropriate pencil grip whilst mark making, from here letter formation, then words, then sentences and so on,

In these scenarios it would have been much harder, even unreasonable, to expect the end goal immediately; shaping was a crucial part of learning the new skill. 

Prompts

Shaping can be a timely process. To increase the efficiency a few strategies can be used alongside shaping;

  • Vocal prompt – this can be a prompt such as a teacher saying ‘pick up your pencil’
  • Physical prompts – for example to shap writing you may prompt the learner hand over hand at first, gradually fading this whilst systematically shaping each step of the task towards sentence writing (at first maybe you give social praise for letting you physically prompt without resisting).
  • Imitative prompts – the same example could be used as above, but you ask the child to imitate what you are doing (‘try this’ – whilst holding the pencil with the appropriate grip).

Any prompts used should be systematically faded – this is important. 

I hope this has been a practical post. Pick a behaviour and get shaping.

Babies Keep You Busy!

Hey, it’s been a while

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So, after a 2 year break, I want to start adding to the blog again and share some ABA love. Turns out the arrival of my own little guy has been pretty time consuming! I started writing the blog for people who are new to ABA (parents or other non ABA professionals) and hope that it explains some principles of ABA in a user friendly way with some day to day context – this is something I’m still passionate about.

 

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Becoming a parent has added to my analysis for sure, helping me get a bit more of an insight to being a parent (also the extra caffeine I now drink makes me super alert). I find myself constantly looking at how he learns and it’s awesome to see it happening.

 

Ultimately, it’s what I already knew – reinforcement is the biggest part of learning. From an early age we teach our children that doing what we do is a good thing (we establish and reinforce the child’s imitation repertoire)We look down at young babies smiling, speaking/singing to them, stroking their heads, giving them cuddles and attention and when they smile for the first time what do we do?baby_smiling.jpg

We do whatever we did that got them to smile in the first place – I have made some ridiculous noises, sung many songs, and danced around like an idiot all in the hope of getting a laugh or smile! The smile/laugh reinforces our behaviour so were likely to do it again! (remember, something is only reinforcing if it increases the future likelihood of a behaviour).We also give them even more cuddles and attention which reinforces the babies’ behaviour (smiling).

 

This is when the ball gets rolling. From this moment we’re looking for babies to do the next behaviour we want to see more of; clapping their hands, waving, crawling, walking, using a spoon, eating new foods, and we’re always modelling these skills. We are ready and waiting to reinforce the behaviour with praise, clapping, attention, smiles, cuddles etc. We get so used to this being the way that it’s easy to think the children are acquiring new skills because of time – not realising that we are playing huge parts in our child’s learning by the modelling, prompting and reinforcement we provide!

 

My little man used to love the ‘5 little ducks’ song and it would always get a smile, but

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Me when a reinforcer is satiated

after around 1000 times of me singing it (I might be exaggerating) he stopped smiling – why? Because the reinforcing effect of the song wore off – he got ‘bored’ of it, much like we would do if we listened to the same song so much (we call this satiation). It doesn’t mean ‘reinforcement doesn’t work’; it just means we need to find a new one (which was overly dramatic peek a boo – exhausting).

 

My little mate is 19 months old and he is copying more and more every day, and attempting to say more and more words each day, it’s really picking up momentum and I’m amazed that he only needs a few trials to learn most skills. How we learn is awesome, but it is governed by the rules of behaviour. For most kiddos I work with the social reinforcers I listed above aren’t effective as part of their special educational needs are social deficits, so it’s up to us to find something that does work as a reinforcer. The principles of learning remain the same, but we may need different reinforcers, more systematic prompting, more learning trials, more work on generalisation and more intensity etc, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!

 

Anyway, probably time for me to get back to him, he’ll be waking up from his nap soon and I need to get his lunch ready! If you want to read more about the principles mentioned in this blog you can check out Cooper, Heron, Heward (2013) Applied Behaviour Analysis’ or for an intense read A Behavior Analytic View of Child Development’ by Henry Schlinger.

 

I’m looking to build my case load again, so if anyone is looking for a BCBA – please free to contact me on my blog page or on jamesadcock@hotmail.co.uk

 

Thanks for reading! Remember to spread the ABA love.

James

Teaching Group Responding: Squad School

Teaching group responding skills is super important. It’s a set of skills that most children don’t need to be taught intensively. But when they do, it can be tough! It’s really important for a person to be able to respond to group demands in order to be an independent learner in the classroom.

 

If you really think about it, it’s pretty difficult to think about the skills needed to respond as part of a group. I think most people would assume that if you can answer questions and respond on a 1-1 basis, then you can answer as part of a group. Pre ABA I definitely would have seen that as pretty much the same thing. This is definitely not my experience when working with children with learning difficulties and/or autism. 

 

If you don’t break down skills the way that ABA does, it can be difficult to know what’s ‘missing’. The VB MAPP and ABLLS-R break down skills in this area well. I generally use these assessments to guide which skills need to be taught, especially as the VB MAPP is developmentally sequenced (lists the skills needed in the correct order). 

 

It can be tough to teach these skills in schools. Children often go from 1-1 learning in to a class of 15 or more children, and that jump can be too high. It can sometimes be the case that the learners sit appropriately as part of a group, but sitting with the absence of problem behaviour, and learning as part of a group, are not the same thing, and it’s not enough. Another common observation is that teachers may ask the learner several questions during group time (which is great, we want to encourage active student responding), but they are presented using the learners name, with direct eye contact (so again, essentially a 1-1 response, when sitting as part of a group). It must be presented non specifically such as ‘everybody go and get your pencil case’, or ‘can you all show me clapping’, not ‘Joey, go and get your pencil case’.

 

If group skills need to be taught, it usually needs to start in a small group (maybe even 3 participants to start). Reinforcers should be delivered from the person running the group. It’s important that 1-1’s don’t simply repeat what the teacher says, because even if the learner is sitting in a group and responding, it’s still a 1-1 demand, not a group one. Instead, stand behind the learner, and if they need prompting use physical prompts where possible and fade (no talking). Remember, that when starting out and establishing group responses, it’s good to start with skills that are already fluent on a 1-1 basis, teaching new skills and group responding at same time can increase the effort on the learners part. Provide lots of opportunities to respond in the group, the more responses, the more opportunity for reinforcement; we only learn if we behave. 

 

It’s not always easy for teachers to cater for this within the school day. It may be due to time restraints, lack of staff, or the fact that it’s not necessarily fair to other children to participate in a group that is too easy for them, just to benefit the learner you’re working with; all fair points. It has worked in the past by collaborating closely with teachers, and taking any given chance to squeeze some group time in. You can start out teaching group responses during fun games (like Simon Says, or Befuzzled), so it could be done in golden time, or a break time/free play. The most important thing is working with the teacher to see what can be realistically done. Providing some data can also be useful, showing a simple tally of how many opportunities there were to respond over a given time, and if they were 1-1 or group, prompted or independent. Further down the line, there is some good research for hand raising.

Anyway, I could go on forever about this. All of the above has motivated a colleague and I  (Holly Cowlam, previous guest blogger, check out her website here) to start a group teaching group skills. The group is called Squad School, and will be run out of The Children’s Place clinic in London. If you’re interested in signing up, or finding out more, check out the flyer below. There’s a free drop in day to meet Holly and I at 9am on Wednesday 23rd August, at The Children’s Place Marylebone clinic. Or just comment on the blog/email the address on the flyer if you want to ask any questions! Thanks!

Squad School 2017

12 Awesome Resource Websites

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this post is about good resource websites. Here are some beauties, in no particular order…

 

http://www.specialresources.co.uk – this is a company set up by parents who know how ABA works and they know the value of top quality picture cards! Reasonably priced and most importantly UK based pictures! Boom.

 

http://www.teachhandwriting.co.uk/handwriting-resources.html – this is good for free handwriting sheets, whether it’s early pencil control, simple shapes, or letter formation.

 

https://www.pinterest.co.uk – if you don’t know about Pinterest, you should. It has LOADS of cool ideas for teaching/playing whatever you like! Get involved right now. Excellent for an ABA programme, parents, and teachers. When you’ve researched all the educational stuff, you can look up all manner of other things such as holiday ideas, tasty food, and house ideas – lovely stuff. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/adcock2714/aba/ – here’s an ABA board I made earlier

 

https://treezy.co.uk – Treezy has everything you could possibly need for an ABA programme. Lovely website to navigate, and great for parents and professionals – this should be your first port of call.

 

http://www.themeasuredmom.com/print-2/ – free printables galore!

 

https://urbrainy.com – all kinds of educational worksheets!

 

http://www.sparklebox.co.uk – worksheets, tick charts, and much more.

 

http://www.tts-group.co.uk – an online smorgasbord of good resources.

 

http://www.hope-education.co.uk/products/early-years – an online catalogue of goodies, you’ll lose a lot of time searching through everything.

 

https://www.learningresources.co.uk – another easy to navigate website with endless amounts of cool stuff.

 

http://www.twinkl.co.uk – even more worksheets!

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/registry/wishlist/2QFGX7VMBHSNH/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_2 – what can I say, Amazon is a classic. Here’s a link to a wish list I’ve made with resources I either have, or want to have. Feel free to follow to keep up to date with new additions to the list.

 

So, there you have it. I’m forever coming across new, cool resources and websites, so I’ll add them up, and post another blog down the line. In the meantime, if you want to share the love, and let us know any gems you have, please comment on the blog for all to see!

 

Ta very much

Guest Blog – What You Need to Know About Teaching Independent Living Skills

Guest blog, boom! This is written by Holly Cowlam, an awesome BCBA in the making who has (almost) finished studying her MSc in ABA at the Tizard Centre. She has recently done a lot of work around self help skills, so it seemed fitting to tag her in! 

Many skills that we come across in our daily lives involve complex sequences of behaviours that are completed fluently and in a specific order to achieve an outcome. Think about your morning routine; every morning you get in the shower, get dressed, make breakfast, eat breakfast and so on. Often we complete these tasks without thinking, unaware even of the steps we are completing to achieve the outcome. Take a minute to break down just one of the components of your shower routine and you will be surprised at just how many skills you need to be able to complete before achieving the outcome. You might first collect each item of clothing from your drawers that you need for the day, then find your towel and head to the bathroom. Before you have even entered the shower you have emitted many different complex behaviours such as opening the correct drawer and selecting your underwear, opening the drawer to get your socks, opening your wardrobe and selecting a shirt and so on… Many children struggle to learn these skills during natural routines, and need extra help and practice to learn to complete the tasks on their own.

 

Behavioural chains

Behaviour analysts describe complex sequences of behaviours as behavioural chains. When you want to have a shower, the completion of each step that leads to the consequence becomes reinforcing due to its instrumental role in reaching the ultimate goal, and the completion of a given step acts as the antecedent or trigger for the you to complete the next behaviour in the sequence until you reach your ultimate goal.

 

                                                                                      Task analysis

task analysisIn order to teach behavioural chains we design task analyses to facilitate teaching, which involves writing a comprehensive list of the steps to achieve the desired outcome. The steps are written with enough detail that someone who doesn’t know how to complete the skill would be able to follow it. We can then systematically teach the steps and take data on performance.

 

Chaining         

One of the most important things to remember when teaching behavioural chains is that we teach individuals the steps in the sequence they occur, without breaks in between each. We want our learners to be fluent in the tasks and be able to complete the skills without any help.

You can teach behavioural chains in a few different ways:

  • Forward chaining: you prompt the first step in the chain and reinforce immediately before completing the rest of the steps yourself (sometimes the learner might be fully guided through the rest of the steps, however this is not a necessity, they may just watch as you complete the rest of the steps for them). Once the individual is reliably completing the target step you will start teaching the next step in the chain and reinforce after the new target step. You continue this process until all the steps have been learnt and are completed in sequence.
  • Backward chaining: you complete the sequence for the learner (or fully guide them through the steps) until you get to the last step which you prompt and then deliver reinforcement for. Once the last step is mastered you can begin to teach the prior step in the chain. You repeat this until all steps are mastered.
  • Total task chaining: you prompt all steps in the chain, by delivering support as and when it is needed for each step. This method may not be appropriate for more difficult or longer tasks. It may also not be appropriate if the learner often displays problem behaviour following demands.
See example of the beginning of a stimulus response data sheet for washing/drying hands (data sheet devised by Carbone Clinic)Wash hands

Prompting

Different prompts can be used to show the learner how to complete each step. Generally prompts are derived from 3 categories:

  • Model: showing the learner what to do and then having them copy
  • Physical: physically guiding the learner to complete steps
  • Gestural and vocal: pointing, tapping, delivering vocal instructions

Generally I would recommend providing a model or physical prompt without any vocal or gestural prompts, as they can be difficult to fade.

Fading prompts

During teaching you should fade your prompts so that the learner can complete the task independently. You can fade the amount of prompt you give e.g. after fully guiding the individual to complete a step you can try only nudging their arm in the direction of the task instead of fully prompting. You could also introduce a time delay to your prompt; so after the learner completes a step a few times with a prompt, on the next attempt you can wait for 5 seconds before delivering your prompt so that they have the chance to complete the step alone. More reinforcement should be delivered for less prompted responses in order to support more independent completion of the task.

Reinforcement

As with any skill or teaching procedure, reinforcement is key. Reinforcement may come in the form of a token, a pat on the back, social praise or in the form of a favoured edible or toy. Be sure that your learner is reinforced for his or her efforts differentially based on less prompted performance of the task. All that means is more tokens, social praise or access to preferred items when the learner completes steps with less prompts.

We only stop teaching and fading our prompts when the learner can complete the skill without anyone else there; this is true independence and will make sure our learners are able to play a valued role in their communities and live independently in the future.

      I love teaching self-help skills; I hope you do too!

Another big thanks for my first guest blogger, Holly Cowlam!

Ind Living Skills References

 

Manding for Information – Teaching WH Requests

Manding for information is an important skill. I ask questions all day.

Manding for information refers to the process in which information becomes a conditioned reinforcer as it leads to an already established reinforcer. So basically, ask a question, and use the information to do/get something useful.

featured-content-ipad-icon_2xHere’s an example;


Learner: ‘where’s the iPad?’ (this is the ultimate reinforcer)


Adult/peer: ‘in the kitchen’ (the useful information leading to the ultimate reinforcer)

Learner goes to the kitchen to get the iPad

Here’s some practical tips on how you can teach this skill. When you start out, you need to identify some strong reinforcers; these can be used as the items/activities that motivate/reinforce the learner to ask the ‘wh’ questions. The reason you should start out with highly motivating items is because nobody asks a question if they don’t care about the answer (for example, I am very unlikely to ask ‘where’s the cauliflower’ and much more likely to ask ‘where’s the chocolate’).

You should teach at least 2 WH questions at the same time to help with discrimination hex_pat(so the learner doesn’t just ask ‘what’ questions all of the time).

It doesn’t always have to be a really creative process when teaching this skill, there are plenty of everyday situations in which you ask different ‘wh’ questions (it can be really creative as well if you want).

Remember it’s the information which is valuable, if you’re learner says ‘where’s the iPad?’ don’t just deliver the iPad, tell them the location, then they have to use the information to go and get it. The information is the reinforcer.

Manding for information lesson plans are a good way to prompt you when to use different ‘wh’ questions. It is good to not do 20 what questions in a row, and then 20 where questions, mix it up a bit, intersperse the WH questions. Lesson plans are also a good way to plan out;

1) the contrived situation

2) what information becomes reinforcing

3) what the ultimate reinforcer is

It breaks down the process that the learner goes through. It’s also good to teach during naturally occurring situations throughout the day even if you haven’t planned to do so (so when in a shop, the learner might spontaneously request a magazine, but they don’t know where it is, prompt ‘where is the magazine?’).

Generalise the way you can ask WH questions, for example, ‘what is it?’, ‘what are you watching?’, ‘what are you doing?’, ‘where’s the IPad?’, ‘where are we going?’ etc. This will encourage the learner to emit novel responses, which is the ultimate goal. Don’t just teach ‘where is it?’ and ‘what is it?’.

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Manding for info data sheet (adapted from Carbone Clinic data Sheet)

Now, I’d never say no to data, it’s always a good 
way to track if what you’re doing is effective
. You can even just tally prompted versus spontaneous use of the targeted WH uestions

As always, differentially reinforce responses (give more social praise/reinforcement for more spontaneous responses).

So if you want to work on this in a spare 15 minute period, firstly give some thought to what the ultimate reinforcer will be (what is the learner getting out of it), think about which WH questions you are targeting (might be 2 for intensity, or more than 2, depends on the learner), and get ready to create situations for the learner to ask. When you have identified that the learner has motivation for the information, the teaching procedure would be as follows,

  • Contrive situation (adult says – ‘lets play with the iPad’)
  • Prompt response (adult models what to say -‘where is the iPad?’ and waits for the learner to repeat it back (this is an echoic prompt))
  • Fade your prompt (independent response if possible ‘where’s the iPad?’)
  • Give the information and differentially reinforce (dependent on how independent the learner’s responses were)

If manding for information is totally new to your learner, it may be worth running a few trials using steps 1, 2, and 4 (contrive, prompt, give information), and you can fade your prompts over each trial, again, it depends on the learner.

The awesome Busy Analytical Bee has also just posted about this – you should check it out for some good ideas how to teach each WH mand – https://busyanalyticalbee.com/2017/02/22/teaching-mands-for-information/.

So there you have it, a brief snippet on how to teach a real important part of your learners’ mand repertoire.

High Expectations

Happy New Year everyone!

Back to school in January is a busy time for all.  Getting back in to the routine after the holidays is always tough, for adults and kids! 

The new year is often a time to update targets for a learner, new term, new targets and all that. When setting goals, it’s important to to have high expectations. This doesn’t mean setting goals well above the level of the learner, after all, a key principle of ABA is setting small achievable targets. High expectations are individual to each learner, but it can be expecting them to eat with a knife and fork during meal times, or showering independently, pushing the development of vocalisations, and many other worthy goals, and not juts settling for an non-disruptive student (who may not actually be learning much). It’s continuing to persist with a goal, that may be a particularly difficult area for your learner, but striving to individualise the teaching, and finding better ways to teach it. This isn’t always easy!

When I first started as an ABA therapist, I was always encouraged to use every part of the day as a potential teaching opportunity (queuing for lunch, getting cutlery, washing hands after the toilet, social interactions at break and so on). It can be hard work to do this, and days can be full on, but it’s so worth it. 

Here’s a little video of me rambling on about this at a school training day.

 

So there you go, have high expectations, use every moment of the day, and smash it.

7 Teaching Procedures to Smash ITT

Table work, ITT (intensive table teaching), DTT (discrete trial training), are all ways of talking about working at the table.

 

The following teaching procedures are taken from the excellent Carbone et al (2010) paper. These teaching procedures will make table sessions, and pretty much all teaching, more effective. Most importantly, they get your learner to learn because they want to, not because they have to!

1. Pairing and Manding

When beginning a table session, pairing and manding is your first priority. You should present an array of reinforcing items for ‘free’ (no requesting necessary). Then it’s your job to follow your learner’s motivation, see what they are most motivated for among the items that are presented. To be sure that the item will function as a reinforcer, you should require them to mand for it, if they are willing to ask for it, then is most likely a reinforcer. This process helps you identify effective reinforcement for your table session, which is essential to promote good responses, and also decreasing the likelihood that your child will engage in escape motivated problem behaviour.

 

2. Stimulus Fading

Another method to prevent escape motivated problem behaviour (crying, whining, flopping etc when demands are placed) is to fade in the amount of demands. This will be relative to your child’s VR. A Variable Ratio schedule of reinforcement has been found to be the best schedule to maintain steady rates of responding (sorry got carried away there, but it is a juicy science). A VR is basically how many demands you can place before your learner loses interest. You should start at the lower end of your learners’ VR, for example if your learner has a VR of 2, you should start with 1 demand then reinforce, and increase the amount of demands each time until you reach the higher end of the VR which would be no more than 4. If the learner’s VR is 10, stick between 5 and 20 (half below, double above). It’s not just about the amount of responses; you should also fade in the effort and difficulty of responses (don’t probe acquisition skills (skills you’re teaching) too soon).

 

3. Differential reinforcement

If your learner responds well (not making errors, or getting a ‘yes’ on the probe (the first time you ask them)) then you should reinforce more. You can do this in various ways, either longer duration of an activity (e.g. giving your learner longer on the iPad), more than one reinforcer (e.g. iPad, slinky, and bubbles), or a higher quantity of a reinforcer (e.g. 3 crisps instead of 1). Equivalently, if your learner responds poorly (e.g. errors frequently on mastered targets, or gets a ‘no’ on a probe) then you should deliver less reinforcement. This process is referred to as differential reinforcement. Think of it as ‘performance related pay’.

 

4. Errorless Teaching

Throughout a table session you should minimise errors (your learner responding incorrectly) as much as possible. Frequent errors increase the likelihood of escape-motivated behaviour.

If your child errors this is the error correction procedure you should follow: –

 

Re-state the SD (the demand)

Prompt response

 

Re-state the SD

Fade on your prompt

 

Distracter (between 1 and 3 previously mastered skills)

 

Re-state the SD

Fade again on prompt if needed/let child respond independently

 

Effective prompting will also help minimise errors. You should follow the prompt schedule of most to least (go in with a higher prompt and fade as needed). Your prompts should be the most effective and least intrusive you can do. Remember to prompt as much as necessary to ensure a correct response while not over prompting when not needed. Each trial you run will be different. Don’t fade if you think an error is likely.

 

5. Pace of Instruction

Another teaching procedure to consider when at the table is the pace of instruction. A fast pace of instruction is important as it prevents the likelihood of escape motivated problem behavior. Using short ITI’s (inter trial intervals – the time between the learners last response and your next demand) gives less opportunity for problem behavior to occur, and also provides socially mediated reinforcement for your learner quicker. It is also worth paying attention to your learner’s latency (how long it takes your learner to respond to your demand) to responding, the longest time between a demand and a response should be 2 seconds, and anything longer should be error corrected. Basically, don’t hang about, get it done well and in a timely fashion.

 

6. Intersperse Instructions

When teaching a target at the table, you should be using a master pile; these are skills that have previously been mastered. The mastered targets are regarded as ‘easy’ tasks, and acquisition targets are regarded as ‘difficult’ tasks. Difficult tasks have been found to be associated with a worsening set of conditions due to higher errors, more effort, and less reinforcement (basically new targets are harder). It’s important to intersperse difficult tasks within the easy tasks – 80% easy, 20% difficult to help prevent this. This (hopefully) ensures loads of success.

 

7. Mix and Vary Tasks

This is short and simple. Research has shown if you repeat the same task over and over again, it’s boring! This can lead to an increase in escape-motivated behaviour. So mix demands across different verbal operants; listener responding, imitation, tact, intraverbal, visual etc.

 

I hope this all makes sense. I’m hoping to get a video of this to post it in action.

Smash ITT.

Reflexive MO article – Carbone + Tirri

Leg it to the Table!

So, with some learners, it’s appropriate to be running ‘table sessions’. A table session is an intensive teaching period of many tasks to provide a lot of opportunities to teach targets. As a general rule, I wouldn’t run table sessions with pre school age children, as most of those programmes are based around natural environment teaching and play.

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It’s important to generalise all teaching in to the natural environment, but learners (and therapists) often respond well to table sessions, as it’s very structured, and (should be) reinforcement rich.

 

First things first; set up the table as a fun place to be. You want your learners to run to the table, not run away. If you are working with a learner who has a history of problem behaviour related to table teaching, forget demands, just pair. Build a stronger history of reinforcement at the table than problem behaviour. Just go there for fun! Deliver all of the learners favourite things, and play with their favourite toys, and the only requirement is that they stay at the table. 

 

Once your learner is ready for table sessions (no longer having problem behaviour when asked to sit at the table), make sure you prepare well. Have a range of possible reinforcers ready, all necessary teaching materials (targets on acquisition – being taught, and mastered skills), and probe data sheets needed.

 

For most learners, a 15-minute schedule is appropriate, (15 minutes NET, 15 minutes’ table, 15 minutes NET etc.). For younger learners it may be less, and older learners (particularly secondary age and over) it would be more, but of course this should be totally tailored to the individual learner.

 

Version 2
Master Pile

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Tact Picture

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Intraverbal

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Imitation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next post is going to be on awesome teaching procedures to use at the table, and in general life!

14 Reinforcers for Older Learners

This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully gives some ideas for more age appropriate reinforcers for older learners. 

We should always try and keep things age appropriate, but not at the cost of losing reinforcers altogether!

  • Fruit Ninja
  • Temple Run
  • Flick Kick Football
  • Top Trumps
  • Lego
  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • Music
  • DVD
  • Mini Basketball Hoop
  • Scalectric
  • Nerf Vortex Howler
  • Flying Glider Planes
  • Remote Control Car

 

I’d love some more ideas, so please feel free to comment and add some!