HOW TO ABA
PRACTICAL PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES
Reinforcement is one of our most common tools, but we often hear from other teachers and practitioners that it isn’t working. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to ensure success with reinforcement, and we dive into them here. We share tips, tricks, and common mistakes so you can troubleshoot and experience greater success with clients.
What do you do when a learner you’re working with errors? In this blog, I’m going to talk about how to perform an error correction procedure.
Task analysis is all about making goals and projects more manageable, and we use this technique on a regular basis throughout our everyday lives. Task analysis doesn’t have to be big, and it’s all about breaking any size task down into smaller steps. Here, we dive into all things task analysis and how it can help you and your clients succeed.
Often in an ABA program, we’re teaching kids multiple skills at once, which can sometimes result in scrolling behaviors. It’s important to be aware of scrolling and know how to deal with it from the very beginning. Here, we cover helpful tips and strategies to prevent and manage scrolling through error correction procedures and transfer trials.
As ABA professionals, it’s important to understand baseline data and how to use it effectively. Here, we cover both as well as what kind of baseline data to collect. We also discuss when to take frequency or duration data, touch on ABC data collection, and the difference between pre-testing and baseline data.
Robert Schramm is a board-certified behavioral analyst and the creator of Just 7 Steps of Instructional Control. Through his transformative work, Robert was able to translate behavioral analysis principles into language that parents can understand. Robert’s 7 steps help parents of all backgrounds make great progress with their kids regardless of diagnosis while building great relationships with them along the way.
Rose Griffin is the founder of ABA Speech and the host of the Autism Outreach Podcast. She’s dual-certified as a speech language pathologist (SLP) and a BCBA. Rose shares stories from her career journey, information about her available coursework, and why collaboration between SLPs and BCBAs is so important.
Verbal operants are one of the most important concepts we encounter in the field. It’s easy to get confused with all of the different types and here, we clear everything up, so you know exactly how they work. We’ll also share our thoughts on the best way to teach operants so you can be as effective as possible.
Barbara Heidenreich is an expert exotic animal trainer who uses ABA and behavioral principles in her work. There are so many ways ABA can be applied outside of the traditional scope and animal training is just one of them. Barbara talks about how her work is helping animal care professionals reduce animal stress and shares some exciting stories from her career.
In behavioral analysis, we love our acronyms and ABC is one of them. ABC data collection can get overwhelming, especially when there’s so much information to sort through. Here, we simplify the process and offer helpful tips to get the best data and how to collaborate with teachers and other professionals.
Michelle Vinokurov is a paraprofessional and RBT autistic advocate who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Through her parents’ early intervention and going through her own therapy, Michelle was inspired to start working in the field. We talk about how much has changed in ABA over the years, how things have improved, clarifying the importance of ABA for parents, and advice for a new practitioner.
Dr. Hank Schlinger is a professor at California State University and the author of several books on behavior and self-esteem in children. We discuss how important parental involvement is and how practitioners can do better when educating families and primary caregivers. We also talk about the importance of self-esteem and how it impacts lasting behavioral changes.
Ling and Jane join us on the show today and explain their AAC platform, Linggo. Communication is a complex concept and requires an interdisciplinary approach, while keeping the needs of the child front and center. Linggo is much different than traditional AACs and the company also provides training for both parents and practitioners, which helps with adoption and adherence.
Emily Varon is a BCBA and a sleep expert who offers CEUs to companies and ABA professionals. We discuss the importance of using non-extinction behaviors when addressing sleep issues. We also talk about co-sleeping, blue light exposure, and tips for ABA practitioners working through sleep problems with clients.
Michael Maloney is an expert in direct instruction and precision teaching. His work addresses the growing literacy problem, which he refers to as a global pandemic. We talk with Michael about the Follow Through Project, why the system won’t address the literacy problem, and what we can do as practitioners to make a difference.
In this mentorship sneak peek, we discuss a question from a community member around reinforcement. It’s easy to associate reinforcers with physical objects like toys and snacks, but there are plenty of non-tangible reinforcers that are intrinsically motivating. Using a little creativity when uncovering reinforcers goes a long way.
We’re discussing burnout with one of our members, Julie Tewell, a clinical BCBA based out of Louisville, KY. As a newly minted BCBA, it’s important to stick to your values and never settle for a toxic job when you can find one that better suits you. If you’re new to the field, lean on your network and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Kailani Bartley is one of our members and she’s currently working at CABS in Chicago. She just graduated with her master’s and is sitting for the BCBA exam in August. We chat with Kailani about supervision, creativity, and how to succeed as a newly minted BCBA.
One of our audience members brought a question to us about automatically reinforced behaviors. It’s important to identify the function first and why the behavior is so appealing. Then, you can work on introducing replacement behaviors and a strategy that works.
One of the most stressful times of my job was when I was new to the role and at the start of a new year, I was left having to hire an almost entirely new team. I was new to hiring and, to say the least, I was in over my head. It was a… Read More »How to Train New Staff
Collecting data around a problematic behavior is one of the key duties of a behavior analyst. Defining the behavior first and being as specific as possible helps everyone stay on the same page. We cover how to make the data collection process easier, including when to focus on frequency or duration and when to use partial interval recording.
We’re giving our listeners another sneak peek into what it’s like in our mentorship meetings. We discuss how to use role playing and replacement skills when working on manding. We also talk about balancing discrete environmental teaching with natural environment teaching and when it’s appropriate to use one over the other.
Have you ever tried to remember a phone number and find yourself repeating the number over and over? Sometimes, repeating things help us memorize them. We may even find it helpful to repeat it in a certain sing-song voice. This is similar to what we find with some individuals who are learning new skills. Similar… Read More »Scrolling and Echolalia
We take on another question from one of our community members. Teaching asking and answering questions is very important but you have to know where and when to start. We discuss manding and tacting skills and repertoires to assist in teaching asking and answering questions.
Dr. Laura Cesaroni is the Clinical Director at FERN in Toronto. She focuses on self-regulation in children, parents, and educators. We can’t always control the stressors that we’re faced with, but we can control how we manage them. Stress greatly affects behaviors, so it’s important to factor them in when coming up with treatment solutions for clients.
Today, we cover all things related to staff hiring and training. When hiring, sometimes personality means more than what’s on a resume or how many years of experience a person has. How someone presents themselves and how prepared they are goes a long way. Asking the right questions in an interview is key. When interviewing… Read More »Episode 042: Staff Hiring and Training with Shira and Shayna
We’re answering another question from the community around our opinions on ACT and AIM. ACT stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It’s a branch of behavioral psychology that’s been adopted by the field of ABA. AIM is an acronym for Accept, Identify, Move, which is an ABA curriculum that’s based on the principles of ACT.… Read More »Episode 041: ACT and AIM with Shira and Shayna
ABA applies an understanding of how behavior works to real life situations. But how do we determine what that behavior is, and more importantly, what is causing the behavior? In simple terms, we go back to the ABCs…the antecedent, behavior and consequence. The ABCs are also known as three and four term contingency. This is… Read More »Three and Four Term Contingency in ABA
We received a question from a member on echolalia and scripting and wanted to share our thoughts in this episode. They were wondering if there were any practical tips to help reduce scrolling responses, as their current treatment methods weren’t working. First, it’s important to identify if the behavior is associated with specific operants. Therapist… Read More »Episode 040: Scrolling Responses and Echolalia with Shira and Shayna
What is a Setting Event? Setting events are prior events or occurrences that influence negative behavior. For example, if I wake up and realize that there is no coffee in my house and then my car does not start, I am much more likely to snap at a co-worker than if my morning had gone… Read More »Setting Events
One of our members came to us for advice on how to address separation anxiety with a client. The anxiety turns aggressive while the mother is leaving, but then subsides and the session can continue normally. The data they collected indicated that the problem was attention maintained, but the emotional component seems very compelling. We… Read More »Episode 039: Question From a Member with Shira and Shayna
Leticia Moreno is the Clinical Director and CEO of Within Me Therapy in Maryland. Before becoming a BCBA, she was a special education teacher working in an early intervention setting. Her aunt introduced her to ABA, inspiring her to blend it with early learning in her own practice. She works to incorporate the natural environment… Read More »Episode 038: Company Culture, Underserved Populations, and Natural Environment Teaching with Leticia Moreno
W Reinforcement is defined as increasing the future likelihood of behavior. We use it to increase behaviors we want to see more of in the future, often within the context of skill acquisition. For example, if I want a student to complete his math worksheet every time he receives it, I might choose to offer… Read More »The Difference Between Contingent and Noncontingent Reinforcement
Today, we’re discussing contingent and non-contingent reinforcement, including the difference between the two and how to know which one to use. Reinforcement is a huge focus as an ABA practitioner. It can also be a slippery slope. When all reinforcement becomes contingent, a child can feel like they have to earn everything. Parents often get… Read More »Episode 037: Contingent and Non-Contingent Reinforcement with Shira and Shayna
Today, we’re discussing behavior, more specifically, how to develop a functional behavior plan (FBA) and assessment. While behaviors often seem random, there’s always a reason behind them. A good FBA helps you figure out what those reasons are so you can replace undesired behavior with new skills. Many times, a behavior is learned because at… Read More »Episode 036: Developing a Functional Behavior Plan (FBA) with Shira and Shayna
Steps to Developing an FBA A Functional Behavior Assessment, or an FBA, is a vital part of identifying problem behaviors and then developing a plan to improve those unwanted behaviors. Developing an FBA does not have to be a daunting task. The process allows the team to dig deep into what is causing the behavior… Read More »Developing an FBA
Part three of our “sneak peek” series showcases more from our monthly mentorship meetings. In this session, we share our thoughts on using timers for transition periods. We also share resources on addressing challenging behaviors around tolerating peers. To wrap up, we discuss working with the PECS system. This series has been loaded with great… Read More »Episode 035: A Sneak Peek into Monthly Mentorship Meetings Part 3 with Shira and Shayna
Welcome to Part 2 of our “sneak peek” series where we give you a behind-the-scenes look into our monthly mentorship meetings. Every month, members of the How To ABA community get together to discuss what’s going on in the field. It’s a great place to share resources and connect with other professionals. In this second… Read More »Episode 034: A Sneak Peak into Monthly Mentorship Meetings Part 2 with Shira and Shayna
At some point in our lives we have to do things that we don’t like. Maybe it is speaking in public, attending a crowded event, getting a shot or going to the dentist. For students with sensory issues these dreaded events can occur more often than for their peers. Simply getting a haircut can be… Read More »What is Graduated Exposure?
In these next few podcasts, we wanted to give you a sneak peek into our monthly mentorship meetings. These meetings are dedicated to answering questions from How To ABA members. Every month, we meet to discuss a variety of different issues as it relates to being a BCBA in today’s environment. During this first sneak… Read More »Episode 033: A Sneak Peek into Monthly Mentorship Meetings Part 1 with Shira and Shayna
The field of ABA is constantly growing and evolving. After being in the field for several years, we wanted to share our perspectives on what has changed and what still needs to change. Our field is making great strides in moving from the perception that ABA “fixes” kids to honoring who they are as people.… Read More »Episode 032: How The Field of ABA Has Changed in 25 Years with Shira and Shayna
Rachel Torrance is a BCBA and the Assistant Regional Vice President at Cultivate Behavioral Health and Education. She’s also the co-owner of a company called Supervision Academy, a remote supervision training agency. ABA was a huge component of her special education studies and gained a lot of hands-on experience through teaching in the classroom. She… Read More »Episode 031: Rachel Torrance and The ABA Forum
Today, we’re going to be talking about ABA principles that we use in our homes. In addition to being professionals, we’re also moms. It’s so interesting how much we can learn from our kids and how they help us to become better BCBAs. Non-contingent reinforcement works really well with kids, letting them know that not… Read More »Episode 030: 7 ABA Strategies We Use (Or Don’t Use!) in Our Homes with Shira and Shayna
Tamar Finkelstein is an RBT who recently finished school and is working in the field. What brought her to the field was her own diagnosis of autism when she was two. Her mother got her involved in early intervention and because of that, she’s had a life full of opportunities. Getting into ABA was sort… Read More »Episode 029: A Conversation with an RBT – Tamar Finkelstein
As December comes to a close, we’re spending a lot of time planning for 2022. We’re really excited about some new initiatives, and we wanted to share our plans! Our members have been fabulous, and we are so thankful for each and every one of you. The first thing we’re doing in the new year… Read More »Episode 028: Our Plans for 2022 With Shira & Shayna
Leanne Page is a BCBA and the founder of Parenting with ABA, an organization that provides parents with ways to utilize ABA in their everyday lives with their children. She started her career in special education and became inspired to pursue ABA after working alongside a behavioral analyst in her classroom. Leanne moved overseas for… Read More »Episode 027: Parenting with ABA with Leanne Page
Nicole Stewart is a BCBA and the co-founder of Supervision Reimagined, an organization that’s committed to standardizing supervisory best practices for the field. Nicole started her career as a behavioral analyst and a certified special education teacher. She went on to become a clinical director at a private placement group and she is now a… Read More »Episode 026: Supervision Reimagined with Nicole Stewart
It’s our 25th episode! To celebrate, we thought we’d talk about the top five things we wish we knew when we were just starting out as newly minted BCBAs. It’s so important to be sensitive to the cultures of our families. Being mindful of cultural competency and where parents are coming from should always be… Read More »Episode 025: Top 5 Things I Wish I Knew as a New BCBA with Shira and Shayna
Latocia Robins is the owner of Auspice ABA Services in Louisiana. Her company provides services for individuals aged two to adult. Latocia’s vision came out of noticing a lack of services being provided to those in the school system who needed support but didn’t have an autism diagnosis. She uses ABA to help clients with… Read More »Episode 024: ABA – Not Just for Autism with Latocia Robins
In the How To ABA community, we’re always looking for ways to support each other. We decided to take some time to share some of our biggest failures to help others learn from our mistakes and perhaps do things differently. Shayna shares that one of her first-ever clients didn’t flourish under her leadership because she… Read More »Episode 023: Biggest Failures and Successes as a BCBA with Shira and Shayna
So often we hear of people who want to lose weight, gain muscle, improve sleeping habits, change their diet, etc. How does lasting behavior change happen? How do we ever know if the target behavior has changed in the direction we want it to go? Knowing where we are starting from provides information on how… Read More »Collecting Baseline Data
Staff training is an important part of our jobs. Whether you’re with supervisees, RBTs, or teachers, knowing your audience and having realistic expectations going into the training makes all the difference. Don’t assume that your audience knows as much as you do about the topic you’re presenting on and always start with what they understand.… Read More »Episode 022: Staff Training with Shira and Shayna
Angie Pickering lives in Portland, OR, and has a lot of interesting things going on. She started her career as a typical 9-to-5 clinic-based ABA in 2006 and has watched the field evolve over the years. Angie sees ABA as being in a sort of reflective period and moving towards more client-centered care, which is… Read More »Episode 021: Making Improvement to ABA Supervision with Angie Pickering
Chris Collins is an RBT and the founder of ABAid Suncoast, a non-profit organization in Florida that helps remove barriers to entry into treatment for autism. Chris had a desire to create something that would offer direct support to clinics and provide financial assistance to families for diagnostics and treatment options. There are many children… Read More »Episode 020: Non-profit Organization for ABA and Other Services with Chris Collins
We received such amazing feedback on our burnout episode that we decided to do a follow-up based on our top five daily habits. Simple things like waking up early or carving out five to ten quiet minutes each day to yourself can make a huge difference in your day. Activities like exercise, enjoying dinner with… Read More »Episode 019: 5 Daily Habits with Shira and Shayna
I absolutely loved reading as a child. I was the classic book worm growing up. I stayed up late to read by flashlight, read at the dinner table, and I even took pride in reading a whole book a day almost every day during the summer! I have distinct memories from when my parents would… Read More »Reading to Promote Language
BCBA Rosa Casali has been practicing ABA for 13 years and is the founder of Behavior Solutions Inc. Her firm provides in-home care for families in the Miami area. Rosa has a master’s degree in mental health counseling and fell in love with ABA after taking an advanced course in the subject. She knew she… Read More »Episode 018: Cultural Sensitivity with Rosa Casali
Tammy Kaiser is an RBT with a master’s degree in Jewish education. She’s planning on taking the BCBA exam in the spring and is also working on her Doctor of Science in Jewish studies. Tammy’s goal is to use her diverse background to look at the world of ABA through a lens of faith-based values.… Read More »Episode 017: Values-Based ABA with Tammy Kaiser
Sonya MacCrimmon is a life coach with a background in ABA. She made her way into ABA after her university program in psychology. Part of her curriculum included a learning disabilities course which piqued her interest and led her to a summer camp job, working with special needs children. Sonya worked as a BCBA at… Read More »Episode 016: BCBA Turned Life Coach with Sonya MacCrimmon
Life gets busy. No matter how much of a Type A personality I have, I cannot be everywhere all the time. With that being said, I need to make sure the little ones are engaged in an activity while I am otherwise occupied (like making dinner, taking work calls, or going to the bathroom). Knowing… Read More »Independent Activity Schedule (IAS)
We’ve read so many books throughout our careers that we’d love to share with our audience. Below is a shortlist of recommended reading within this episode that can help you become a better BCBA. We’d also love to know what’s on your bookshelf, so make sure to connect with us and share! — Behavioral Intervention… Read More »Episode 015: Book Recommendations with Shira and Shayna
Patricia Williams is a BCaBA from Jamaica and a longtime member of How to ABA. She works in an international school on the island and began her career as a high school teacher. After observing students in her classes with behavioral issues, she studied special education and began using the techniques she learned. Patricia eventually… Read More »Episode 014: BCaBA in an International School in Jamaica with Patricia Williams
Back to school is even more daunting for students and teachers with additional COVID-19 anxieties on top of the regular start of school jitters we all feel. After almost 2 years of uncertainty, and inconsistent schooling and routines, this school year can pose additional challenges! Use these 5 tips to incorporate ABA in the classroom!… Read More »ABA in the Classroom
Jeremy Brown (Executive Director) and Jacqueline Thweatt-Burton (Assistant Director) of Certified Behavior Health Services serve rural areas across the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Demand for services is high in these areas and it can be a challenge for practitioners due to long drive times to and from clients. Most of their work within… Read More »Episode 013: Serving Rural Communities with Jeremy Brown and Jacqueline Thweatt-Burton
I enjoy a wide range of activities and interests, ranging from arts and crafts to martial arts. We wear many hats in life – being a student, teacher, child, teammate, co-worker, parent, etc. What happens when we wear a new hat in a different setting? It can be difficult for my parents to see me… Read More »Parent Coaching
The BCBA field can be very demanding, especially when you’re first starting out. If you’re not managing your time properly or creating healthy boundaries, you can easily find yourself heading towards burnout. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to ease the overwhelm so that you have the energy to do your job… Read More »Episode 012: How to Prevent Burnout
Having autism herself, Summer Mingo approaches the BCBA profession with a fresh perspective and offers great insights into how we can improve as practitioners. Being client-centric, taking on a brand-new case as if they were a blank slate, and focusing on skills-based programs can help set you up for success when working with families.
Early childhood special ed teacher and BCBA Lisa Cvetnich has extensive experience working with young children and their parents. It’s easy for parents to become overwhelmed with everything from how long it takes to start treatment to understanding reasons behind behaviors. Lisa’s website, The Autism Connection, is a fantastic resource for early intervention information for both parents and practitioners.
Parents are a child’s greatest advocate. Vidya Banerjee’s story of raising an autistic son and then becoming a practitioner herself is one we can all learn from. Her insight into what it’s like to be on the parenting side of things is super-valuable and inspiring.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports School can be a challenge for some learners and navigating social situations can be uncomfortable. There are so many invisible rules, and it can be difficult to know what is expected of you. Every new place has a different set of rules, and each new person has a new set… Read More »Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support
BCBAs can sometimes encounter cultural differences and language barriers when working with their families. Ashley Cabral, a bilingual BCBA, knows these challenges well. Helping your clients get access to the information they need while having compassion for their culture goes a long way.
Currently a Director of ABA at a multidisciplinary clinic, Dayna Parker looks back on her journey of becoming a BCBA. She walks us through all the challenges she’s faced over the years, how she dealt with burnout, and what motivates her to keep going.
Jaime Santana, owner of Santana Behavioural Services, joins us on this episode of How to ABA. We talk about caring for adults, the unique ways that we can serve them to foster independence, and the importance of having empathy and compassion for parents. Jaime also shares with us his favorite practitioner resources.
I enjoy the evening hours because there are less demands on my time and attention. They are quiet, and I can finally spend time engaging in preferred activities. Being the opposite of a morning person, it is easy for me to lose track of time and stay up past the point of being a functioning… Read More »How to Use a Countdown for Transitions
Today, we talk with BCBA and preschool teacher, Farrah Benson. Farrah shares strategies, ideas, and personal examples from her experience on how to embed ABA into the classroom. In this episode, we find that best practice teachers and BCBAs have so much in common when it comes to using ABA in the classroom. Farrah also gives advice based on her experience to both long-time BCBAs as well as newly minted BCBA for both in the classroom and in their general practice.
In my grade 5 classroom, my teacher had a poster on the wall that said the classroom was about interdependence not independence, with the symbol of a yin-yang. He taught martial arts, did competitions, and was an overall active person. I had no idea what that meant – was that a spelling mistake? Was it… Read More »Group Contingencies
Today, we are talking with guest, Katerina “Kat” Savino. As a BCBA working in a multidisciplinary clinic and as a mentor to future BCBA’s with Simmons University, Kat has a lot of advice and insight to share. Her background started very similar to Shira’s, moving into ABA from Special Education, she notes how impactful that… Read More »Episode #004: Working with a Multidisciplinary Team with Katerina Savino
In Today’s episode of How to ABA we learn about Shira. She shares how she discovered ABA, her journey to BCBA, and what she’s doing now. Shira tells us what makes good ABA and shares some practical advice for new BCBA’s.
Doing new things is hard. We work with learners all day teaching them new skills, so when we attempt to learn new things we can appreciate the amount of effort our learners put in. No matter how much experience we may have, or how many skill areas we are familiar with, we should always be… Read More »What is Behavioral Skills Training (BST)
In today’s episode of How to ABA, we spotlight Shayna! She tells us a little about her background, how she got started in ABA, and what she’s doing now. She also shares her favorite, practical ABA resources
Welcome to How to ABA, our new podcast! We are Shira and Shayna, two BCBAs with over twenty years of experience, and we want to bring you all the resources, experience, and support we have gathered in our career. Sit back and take a listen. We are so glad you are here!
The first phone number I ever memorized as a child was my father’s business line. It was almost guaranteed that it was a number that would be answered no matter what time of day it was. When my sister and I went to daycare and school, went over to a friend’s house, or went out… Read More »Prompt Scripting & Script Fading
Now that the weather is getting warmer, my motivation to be outside has increased! On the surface, getting ready to go outside sounds pretty simple: get dressed and go! But when we take a closer look, this activity is fairly complex and takes many small steps before enjoying the sun. For some of our learners… Read More »Behavior Chain in ABA
We have all heard the textbook examples of the toddler having a tantrum in the grocery store check-out for access to candies and chocolate bars. We may have even seen it happen in person. As we put on our behaviour analytic hat we could possibly identify the ABC’s (antecedent, behaviour, consequence) at play and determine… Read More »Functional Communication Training (FCT) and Replacement Behavior
As much as the Type A perfectionist in me dislikes making errors, they are a natural part of life and an essential part of learning. While very cautiously trying to learn a new language, I have been making all types of errors. The part of this scary new learning project that has made it more… Read More »Error Correction Procedure and Transfer Trial
I am the type of person who likes to be prepared. In the pre-Covid era, when I went somewhere new, I liked to do my research: I checked out the website, looked at venue photos, found videos of the place, looked it up on maps and scrolled through street view. I found it calming to… Read More »How to Use Video Modeling to Teach Social Skills
When I want something, I have a whole dictionary of words to rely on to get my needs met. I can use verbs and nouns, as well as core and fringe words. Instead of just asking for “more”, I can ask for “more cheese” on my pasta, or “more mozzarella” (or parmesan). I like my… Read More »Intermediate Requesting
It has been a while since I was a child, and making friends is no doubt more challenging now that it has ever been. Add on top of that a diagnosis, or a different way of socializing, and making friends can become even more challenging. This can be a terrifying realization for many families, as… Read More »Plan a Play Date
My goal during the pandemic was to stay in shape. Quite quickly that idea went out the window when my usual supports and routines were dramatically disrupted. Then I decided I would build in a new routine, at the same level of expectation and intensity as pre-covid. I failed. What I was failing to do… Read More »Shaping Behavior Using ABA
I am guilty. I love Pinterest. I can easily spend hours at a time scrolling through so many pins, from home renos to education, or literature and film fanfics, and of course my favourite *organization*. I am one of those people who can sit down for 5 minutes to take a break and look at… Read More »ABA Binder & ABA Programs
With our blog posts being behavior analytic in content and scope, it only made sense to put together an ABA glossary of terms we have used. With a great line up of content coming out in 2021, we will be sure to add to the glossary so all the terms and definitions are ready at… Read More »ABA Glossary
Do you remember having to go into the office during pre-covid times, with that one annoying co-worker who would just not stop complaining? What about thinking even further back to when you were in school and had a classmate shouting obscenities and getting sent to the office? Don’t forget about the kid at the grocery… Read More »Functions of Behaviour
Have you ever crushed it at your job, earned that promotion, and then were suddenly left with the feeling that you don’t know what you are doing?! Being in your previous job was comfortable, you had been doing it for years, knew the expectations, and could do what was asked of you without difficulty. Now… Read More »School Readiness
Teaching via Telehealth Learning has evolved over the years, and the way we teach must adapt. When the idea of online learning was first imagined, it seemed like a far off and futuristic goal. In 2020, it is a reality. Although virtual learning has been around for a while, the covid-19 pandemic hurled a bunch… Read More »Telehealth Tips
It is often our goal to get our students away from needing 1:1 support for learning to being able to learn in a group setting. When students are ready for a social skills group (check When is a Child Ready for a Social Skills Group?), it can be challenging to figure out how to put… Read More »Data Collection for Social Skills Groups
My 3-year old niece was starting swimming lessons, and what we thought would be met with excitement was actually met with anxiety. She was hesitant to go for her first lesson. Like any good aunt with a background in behavioural analysis, I decided on an antecedent strategy: priming. We sat together and looked at pictures… Read More »Priming in ABA
Why do people always say, “it’s just like riding a bike!” when you are learning something new? I don’t know about you, but I am not confident on two wheels! My project for next summer will be to learn how to ride a bike (again). I will tell you right now, I will be starting… Read More »Graduated Guidance
If I want something, I know how to gain access to it. If I am eating my beloved plate of pasta, I need to cover it in cheese. There are many ways I accomplish this, I can walk over to the fridge and take it out, I can ask my sister to “please pass the… Read More »Beginner Requesting
If I want my partner to cook dinner more often, take out the trash regularly without asking, or make the first pot of coffee in the morning, what is the best way to accomplish this? I could flat out ask them, and for some people that may work. But what if your partner needs a… Read More »Differential Reinforcement
What motivates you? I know for myself any kind of hazelnut chocolate is a favourite. But what happens when I am sick of chocolate? I have my back up motivators – like sour candies, pretzels, cookies, and more! Not everyone can tell us what motivates them, and sometimes what we think will motivate us does… Read More »Preference Assessments
Help! I am working with a new client and don’t know where to start!! We have all been there, whether you are new to the field or an experienced veteran, a good ABA practitioner will start with pairing. First impressions matter – remember the teachers you loved the most at school? What about the ones… Read More »ABA Pairing
No matter how many times, or how many ways you ask, they just will NOT comply! You keep asking your kids to clean up their bedrooms (which almost always looks like a hurricane went through it), and they do not do it. Have you noticed that as a teacher, having students complete more challenging tasks… Read More »High-Probability Request Sequence & Behavioural Momentum
“Assessment” can be a scary word no matter who you are – a parent of a young child, a new employee in the workplace, a student in the classroom, self-assessments for New Years resolutions, or other. When people hear the term ‘assessment’, they may think oh no, someone is going to criticize me. But without… Read More »ABA Assessments
Your family is doing home renovations during a pandemic and you hear your partner calling out to you, “give me the Phillips head screwdriver.” Do you know which one that is? What about a Robertson, or a Torx? This can be a common source of confusion for some DIYers – but we have good news… Read More »Teaching Receptive Labels
Mom says “cookie,” toddler repeats “cookie!” When Grandpa signs “ball,” grandchild also uses sign language to sign “ball.” While enjoying a summer day at the beach, you turn to your friend and exclaim “I want ice cream.” A child demands “cartoons!” when they walk into the living room. After studying all day, the student puts… Read More »Echoic-to-Mand Transfer
“Teamwork makes the dream work!” or “group projects are the worst”. When it comes to multidisciplinary collaboration, it should be the first of these two statements. Imagine it is the summertime and you are riding the subway, when suddenly you faint. Could this be due to the heat, dehydration, drop in blood pressure, vasovagal syncope,… Read More »Multidisciplinary Collaboration
What is nonverbal communication? In part, it is body language. Think about meeting someone for the first time, first impressions matter, which is why we wear our best outfit, give a firm handshake, walk with our heads up and shoulders back. Think about the last job interview you went to. You sat facing the interviewer… Read More »Nonverbal Communication
Follow Instructions? You love working on arts & crafts projects and are currently working on a card for the holidays, “Pass me the scissors!” you state to your partner sitting across the table from you. A furnace needs some cleaning and maintenance before the season changes – “Can you give me the screwdriver?” the HVAC… Read More »Following 1-Step Instructions
Has imposter syndrome hit you big time? Yeah, we have been there we know how that feels, you’re going into the supervision session second-guessing yourself. You’re thinking, “Will the therapist know that I’m new to this and nervous?”. Well, the good news is that they are nervous too. Often times the therapist(s) is super nervous… Read More »Supervision
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, parents need to be armed with the right tools to not only manage, but educate their children at home. We are going to be creating and collecting an ongoing list of resources of technology sites and apps that parents can use at home with their children. This list is by… Read More »Resources for Children with Autism During COVID-19
What is Sensory Behaviour? Sensory behaviour, (i.e., “stims”) is usually a form of automatic reinforcement, meaning that it’s done because it just feels good. Cooper, Heron & Heward, describe automatic reinforcement as a “behaviour that creates a favorable outcome without involving another person”, (2007). I have a necklace that I wear all the time, and… Read More »Sensory Behavior
What is Discrimination Training and Why Do We Teach It? In ABA, we often refer to different operants of language – the mand, the tact, the intraverbal, etc. When discussing receptive language, we are referring to the student’s ability to take in and understand language. Can the student follow basic instructions? Does the student know… Read More »Discrimination Training
So you are finally a BCBA, you have went through all the fun steps of credentialing to licensing (depending on your state), and you are now ready to start supervising staff (insert big feelings of imposter syndrome here). I have spoken to many people who said one of their biggest fears was when it came… Read More »Behavioural Skills Training (BST) with ABA Therapists
Lets just put this out there, I LOVE TEACHING, especially kiddos with autism. You see these amazing children are so eager to learn. They are like little sponges. My son who is now 13 was diagnosed with autism at a very young age, and I knew from the moment he was born he was one… Read More »Teaching Children with Autism
Behavior Analysts are interesting specimen: we like to create our own language for things when it may or may not be entirely necessary. While we could easily refer to language in terms like labelling, requesting, or conversation, we made it more complicated – we refer to language in terms of “verbal operants”. The field of… Read More »Verbal Operants
When working with any behavior, whether it be a problem behavior or even a target behavior, it is critical to make sure that all stakeholders are in agreement with what that problem behavior is, and what it is not, so that when it is observed it can all be agreed upon. If you are not… Read More »Defining Problem Behavior
Often children with ASD demonstrate high rates of non-compliance. Following through with instructions is an important skill that we really want our kiddos to learn. Not because we want them to listen to everything we say or do, or not make decisions for themselves, we love it when our kiddos make decisions for themselves, but… Read More »Following Through with Instruction
Extinction is one of the first things practitioners and also parents will learn about in ABA. Many people think this means ignoring the child which is certainly not the case, what it actually is, is just ignoring the behavior. ABA practitioners use this procedure where reinforcement that was previously given for behavior is no longer… Read More »Extinction
Sleep challenges are common in children and can cause stress for parents and family members. Some simple straightforward strategies may help your child develop good sleep habits. In some cases, however, intensive treatment strategies are needed. What does the Research Say? Researchers have studied sleep disturbances in the autism population and have found that 52% of… Read More »Tackling Sleep Challenges
Reinforcement is one of the most powerful strategies available for teaching your client. A reinforcer is anything that your client enjoys (praise, hugs, candy, preferred toys, etc.) that when provided following the occurrence of a behavior increases the probability that the behavior will increase or happen again. For example, a child points to a cookie. … Read More »What is Reinforcement?
Halloween has always been one of my most favorite holidays, the weather is just getting cooler, and getting to watch all the kiddos running around having a great time, is just the icing on the cake. Halloween can also be a very challenging time for our friends with ASD. So here are some tips that… Read More »Tips for Getting your Child with ASD Through Halloween
When I was first starting out in the field, I met someone who asked me what I do. When I told her that I am in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis, she responded with something like, “Oh, that doesn’t work. It just makes kids robotic and learn to clap on demand.” I was floored.… Read More »What is ABA?
What is Theory of Mind? Theory of Mind is the ability to attribute mental states to the self and to others, and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and perspectives different than one’s own. For a person who has developed a theory of mind, they will be able to understand that people’s interests are… Read More »Teaching Theory of Mind and Perspective Taking
We were recently observing a student working and he had the right pieces in place – classroom rules, behaviour contract, etc. but his lack of attending was really interfering with his ability to keep to the rules and get his work done, especially in the classroom. Even with positive behaviour supports in place, there was… Read More »Momentary Time Sampling and Data Collection
The ability to use communication to get basic needs met is of major importance to our students. Verbal requesting (AKA: manding) is a skill that we emphasize from the beginner all the way through to the advanced learner. It is an underlying theme taught in direct instruction, in NET and in play. Requesting should remain… Read More »Teaching Verbal Requesting
In this post, we are going to take you back to ABA 101. Why? Because getting these reinforcement and punishment terms sorted in our head is important to what we do. For instance, take the term, ‘NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT.’ What does this mean anyway? Does this mean taking something away to increase a behaviour or does… Read More »Types of Reinforcement and Punishment
I recently sent an email to a client’s team with a line that read as follows: “All staff will continue to follow through with demands and deliver consequences (punishers and reinforcers) as applicable.” One of the team members took offence to the word “punisher” and was concerned that the approach wasn’t a positive one. I… Read More »The Behavioural Definition of Punishment
We BCBA’s love our acronyms! Here’s another one for you: DRO. This stands for the Differential Reinforcement of Other (behaviour). It essentially means that we are providing reinforcement for THE LACK of a behaviour. Why would a DRO be useful? Many problem behaviours have a positive opposite that we can reinforce. So instead of telling… Read More »What is a DRO and How to Implement One
One of the common concerns we get from parents and therapists is that the child isn’t motivated for anything. Why is this important, you ask? Well, because in an ABA program, we rely on motivation to get things done. It’s the “then” in the “first/then”. It’s the reward at the end of the token board. … Read More »How to Keep a Child’s Motivation in ABA
I love the summer. I love the change in seasons, the break from the monotonous everyday routine, the relaxing vacations, and the long days. However, for many of the kids we work with, the changes that come along with summer can be very overwhelming. By the end of the school year, many children are just… Read More »How to Prepare a Child with ASD for the Summer
With most students that you encounter in ABA, you’re likely going to have to deal with parents. If you’re lucky, you’ll have rock-star parents who are on-board with everything you do and follow-through like champs. Other parents may seem less interested in the goings-on of the ABA sessions and use the time to get their… Read More »How to Promote Parent Involvement in an ABA Program
When I first started my career in ABA, I was surprised by how much management and therapist training that was required. In most of my early supervision experiences, I found it so challenging to watch the therapist and provide feedback – it was so much easier to just jump in the chair and do it… Read More »Therapist Training Tips
It’s usually around this time of year when I feel like the days and weeks are too long. Maybe it’s the long stretch of work/school with no real break until summer. Maybe it’s the itch for the weather to get nicer so we can enjoy more outdoors time. Or maybe it’s just plain, old BCBA… Read More »BCBA Burnout – How to Prevent It!
ABA doesn’t have to be an intense, one-on-one intervention that happens in 20-hour-a-week increments. The principles of ABA can be applied to so many everyday events and activities to help shape language and appropriate behaviour. So even if a child isn’t sitting down for 30 hours a week of intensive therapy, there are many tips… Read More »How to Encourage ABA in the Everyday
For many parents, their child’s first haircut is a celebration. It’s an exciting experience – going to the hairdresser, collecting those first locks of hair and giving the child a lollipop at the end! However, for many parents of children with autism, the word “haircut” elicits a terror response. Their child wouldn’t sit still, wouldn’t… Read More »Teaching How to Tolerate a Haircut
Many of our students struggle with initiating language and conversation. This is why there is usually a strong emphasis on manding and requesting in an ABA program. Teaching them to ask for things that they want builds a relationship of communication between the child and others. Basic manding teaches a child to ask for tings… Read More »Manding With ‘Wh Questions’
In our last blog post, we discussed expanding language to 2-3 word phrases using verbs and attributes. In this post, we will discuss expanding language even further using one of our favourite materials – sequencing cards. There are various sequencing skills that the ABLLS assessment touches upon: visual performance of putting picture sequences in order… Read More »Expanding Language Skills – Part 2
When working with a student who is just acquiring language, we spend a lot of time teaching how to answer questions. “What does a dog say?” “What’s your name?” “What’s this?” “What do you do with a shoe?” The answers to these questions are often simple 1-word answers, which is a great place to be… Read More »Expanding Language Skills – Part 1
Direct Instruction is an evidence-based teaching approach that falls under the umbrella of ABA. We use at least one (or a combination of a few) DI programs with many of our students. We even have some students who have loved the books so much that Language for Learning became a leisure activity! Direct Instruction operates… Read More »Direct Instruction (DI) Programs
A Behaviour Intervention Plan (BIP) is what takes the observations from a functional assessment and turns them into a concrete plan of suggestions. It is also sometimes known as a behaviour protocol or behaviour treatment plan. It should be based on a functional assessment or a functional analysis so that the suggestions made are function-based. … Read More »Writing a Behaviour Intervention Plan (BIP)
Behaviour is communication. It is our students’ way of telling us how they feel or what they need. Behaviour can have many different forms but what it looks like is not as important as what it’s trying to tell us. The function of the behaviour is the part that tells us WHY the behaviour is… Read More »Function Over Form: Functional Communication Training
Having trouble with or feeling timid about transitioning your client with autism from diapers to the toilet? Fret not! Follow the steps below – it’s the approach we’ve used for many years to successfully toilet train our clients. Remember: Be patient, be consistent and be your kiddos biggest cheerleader as she learns to use the… Read More »Toilet Training 101
When we get asked for a quick and easy fix for a behavioural problem (eg: “What do I do when…”) our answer is usually, “It depends”. The solution to behaviour management lies not in the topography of the behaviour, but in the function that the behaviour serves. There can be two children who both engage… Read More »How To Do A Functional Behaviour Assessment
Parents all have goals about what they’d like their kids to do and have in adulthood. Perhaps they imagine their daughter as an esteemed marine biologist who writes books and owns estates around the world. Or maybe their goal for their son, who has special needs, is to live in a nice home with friends… Read More »How To Foster Independence Skills
In the first year of children’s lives, they rely on their parents and caregivers for everything. As children approach 2 years of age, however, the journey towards independence should start with teaching them how to do simple self care tasks, such as using the potty and taking off their hats. We encourage starting to… Read More »How To Teach A Young Child Self Care Skills
One of the common misconceptions about ABA is that it’s all table work and discrete trial teaching, and NO FUN! Quite the contrary, we are all about fun and games! As the field develops, the term “Applied Behaviour Analysis” has become an umbrella terms for lots of other teaching styles. Within this umbrella are other… Read More »Natural Environment Teaching
One of the greatest tools in our toolbox is the ability to break down larger skills into smaller, more attainable steps (and then reinforce each step along the way!). There is a lot that can be accomplished through this Task Analysis teaching method, especially in the area of self-help and independence. What is a Task… Read More »How to Use Chaining with a Task Analysis
Successful toilet training is one of the most useful and (likely) socially significant skills we can teach our clients. When a child is ready for toilet training, we often have to put other programming aside in order to accomplish this goal – and that’s okay! This is a life skill that is important to the… Read More »When is a Child Ready for Toilet Training?
If you’ve been with us long enough, you know how we feel about visuals, and visual schedules. They are in important part of teaching new skills and for promoting independence. Using a visual schedule helps to provide predictability and routine in lots of situations. Teaching a child to follow a visual schedule is a skill… Read More »How to Teach Students to Use Visual Schedules
Any of us working in the field of ABA and special education have seen our share of social stories. They are promoted in schools, at home and in many settings that our kiddos find themselves. What I’ve never seen is a child who isn’t able to greet others, reads a social story about appropriate greetings… Read More »Do Social Stories Change Behaviour?
As Behaviour Analysts, it is our job to put programs and protocols in place for therapists to carry out. This means that a program is often only as good as the therapist implementing it. A therapist who is able to follow programming, take data, and implement protocol is going to be essential to the success… Read More »What to Look for When Hiring an ABA Therapist
Generalization is an important part of programming because it allows for us to extend our reach beyond the actual ABA sessions and into the child’s everyday life. Parents are usually the ones that play a large part in this generalization. This means that we, as ABA professionals, need to be aware of how we’re training… Read More »Parent Training
Materials for an ABA program don’t have to cost a ton of money. We’re big fans of keeping it simple and doable. Fancy, laminated cards look pretty but if something else can get the job done for a fraction of the time and cost – that’s a winner! Besides for a few materials that we… Read More »Top 5 Must-Have ABA Program Materials
Data is a big part of what we do. We are bound to make data-driven decisions and update or revise programs based on what the data tell us. However, it is possible to be so consumed with data that it interferes with learning. How well can a person engage and think on their feet if… Read More »Choosing the Right Data Collection Method
I once worked with a client who was doing really well with his programs, developing skills, and accomplishing goals. However, he had a “behaviour” that was driving his therapist crazy. She called to ask about targeting this specific behaviour within a protocol to try and reduce it. She said that it was coming up often… Read More »When is Behaviour Worth Targeting for Reduction?
Social skills should always be an integral part of any good ABA program right from the start. By social skills, I don’t just mean being able to play with other kids. In typical development, socializing starts very early – a baby making eye contact with his mother, a toddler pointing out an interesting sight to… Read More »When is a Child Ready for a Social Skills Group?
We can’t ignore that children have emotions. As behaviourists, we are trained to treat behaviours and not private events like thoughts and feelings. But how can we ignore that some of the little people we work with are struggling with managing how they’re feeling? We need to allow for our students to have these emotions… Read More »Teaching Emotional Regulation with a 3-Point Scale
Unless you have seven arms, taking data while trying to manage challenging behaviour is nearly impossible. There are many tools in our toolbox to measure and track behaviour, but the tricky part is knowing which tool to implement when. We might choose to take probe data for some teaching targets and trial-by-trial data for others.… Read More »Using Partial Interval Recording to Track Negative Behaviour
One of my proudest and most shocking moments of being a BCBA/Mom was when my son came home with a self-monitoring form designed by his teacher. Not only was the teacher being proactive in managing my son’s behaviour, but he implemented it almost perfectly! The best part – it worked! The goal of self-monitoring systems… Read More »How to Implement a Self-Monitoring System
Something I often discuss with teachers is the concept of intrinsic vs. extrinsic reinforcement. At what point can we expect the tangible and outside reinforcement to morph and for the student to begin to actually want to do the right thing (and not just because he/she is rewarded for the right thing)? In my experience,… Read More »Using Antecedent Teaching to Manage Challenging Behaviour
Looking back on my years as a teacher, I can now say that ABA was the missing piece in my classroom (see: 5 ABA Principles I Wish I Knew as a Teacher). As a preschool and elementary teacher, I was struggling with the concepts of reinforcement and behaviour management. This is why I find the… Read More »How to Use ABA to Manage Challenging Behaviour in the Classroom
One of the most important first steps that a child needs to make in ABA therapy is learning the concept of first/then – “First I do something (fill in demand here), then I get something (fill in reward here)”. The Premack principle states that if high-probability behaviors (more desirable behaviors) are made contingent upon lower-probability… Read More »Teaching Compliance with First/Then (Premack Principle)
We know that an ABA program has been successful when we put ourselves out of a job. As difficult as it is to say good-bye to clients and parents that we’ve been working with for so many years, we know that we served them well if the child has successfully transitioned to school and doesn’t… Read More »Teaching School-Readiness Skills
During one of my first few experiences as an ABA therapist, I was introduced to “The White Diet”. We had a particular student who would only eat white foods, such as pasta, bread, crackers, and cheese. Since then, I’ve seen many versions of the picky eater – the student who would only eat a certain… Read More »Dealing With a Picky Eater
We often encounter misconceptions about what ABA is and what it is not. As with any therapeutic method out there, there are ways to use it and there are ways to abuse it. Unfortunately, the wrong application of the principles at the wrong time or with the wrong student can be detrimental to a child… Read More »Good ABA vs. Bad ABA
In the field of ABA we often talk about using “evidence-based practices” in teaching skill. What does this mean? It means that when we are choosing a teaching strategy, we refer to the literature in determining if it has been effective in controlled studies. Video modeling is an example of an evidence-based practice that has… Read More »Using Video Modeling to Teach Skills
We recently met with a client who was referred to us for her young son with ASD who was not yet talking. In the process of getting the program started, she raised a concern – “My son doesn’t have many negative behaviours , he just doesn’t seem to understand us or follow instructions. Is behaviour… Read More »ABA is More Than Good Behaviour
Before I had kids, I swore that my children wouldn’t be raised on television and media and I would never use a screen as a babysitter. For many years, we did not even have a television in our house. I imagined that we would do enjoyable things together like baking, arts and crafts, and puzzles.… Read More »Technology – Love it or Hate It?
What is a teacher to do when she is given a student that is difficult to manage or has learning challenges? It seems like the go-to solution for some schools has been to recommend that the student have a shadow in the classroom. Sometimes, this is referred as an Educational Assistant or a Special Needs… Read More »The Shadow’s Role in the Classroom
So often, we take for granted that kids like to play. We buy them toys, arrange play dates, and even take them to parks and public areas, all in the name of playing. No one doubts the importance of play on a child’s development. It builds confidence, social skills, creativity, and imagination. But what happens… Read More »5 Steps to Teaching Play Skills
Parents often hesitate to remove their child from preschool or daycare in order for the child to receive 1:1 ABA. Understandably, parents want their children around typical peers and for them to learn in a natural classroom environment, and sometimes that is appropriate. So why would we recommend for a child to receive 1:1 ABA… Read More »6 Skills a Child Needs to Be Ready to Learn in a Group
Social skills is a common area that we tackle within an ABA program. Why is ABA the right approach to use when teaching social skills? Because in an ABA program we use behavioural objectives that are: Very specific in their content. For example, a goal might be “reciprocates greetings from peers” and not “greetings” Definable… Read More »How to Use ABA to Teach Social Skills
Balancing My Roles of “BCBA” and “Mom” The two roles of “BCBA” and “Mom” can sometimes be difficult to merge. On the one hand, knowing so much about the principles of behaviour, I should have all the tools I need to manage behaviour in my home. You would think that my home is full of… Read More »6 ABA Strategies I Use in My Home (And Why a Reinforcement System Isn’t One of Them!)
…And Why Do I Need One? I’ve been noticing lately that there are many practitioners who claim to “practice ABA” or “use the principles of ABA” that aren’t actually Board Certified Behaviour Analysts. Often, when searching for solutions for children, parents are unaware of what qualifications they should be looking for. If someone is able… Read More »What is a BCBA?
If you could have an endless supply of one item – what would it be? Mine would be chocolate. I don’t think I could get sick of it. But there are other things I would get sick of in endless supply (satiation). Most things that we love are so special because they have to be… Read More »Too Much of a Good Thing?
What is a “prompt” and why is it part of an ABA program? Prompting is a strategy used to correct the learner and still increase learning. It is usually placed after the instruction and before the response. Instruction ⇒ Response ⇒ Reinforcement/Consequence Prompt↵ Why prompt… Read More »The Prompt Hierarchy
Reinforcement is a common occurrence in our daily lives. Receiving a paycheck every month, getting a compliment from a friend, taking a coffee break from work – these are all forms of reinforcement. Some types are more predictable and some take longer to achieve. During ABA therapy, it is always our goal to fade reinforcement… Read More »How to Implement and Use Token Boards
On a recent post about visuals prompts, one of the questions we received was: “Why are you using visuals if the goal is for the student to verbalize? Won’t the visuals make the learner dependent on them?” This is a great question and the answer is that it depends on the learner and on how… Read More »The Importance of Visuals and How They Promote Independence
What to Expect When Setting Up an ABA Therapy Program Finding out that your child is not developing as they should be can be very overwhelming. Maybe you’ve just received a diagnosis of ASD and you’re not sure how to accept it or what to do next. Maybe it’s something that you’ve known all along… Read More »My Child Needs ABA – Now What?!?
We LOVE using visuals. Pictures make stories interesting and visual schedules give kids predictability and control. We also use these visuals in the form of scripts to teach conversation. You might be wondering, “But conversation has to be natural and fluid. Doesn’t it defeat the purpose if it’s scripted?” Our answer (and the answer of… Read More »Can Conversation Be Scripted?
This is a continuation from last week – 5 Steps to a Simple Communication System. The concern I often hear is: Why should we use picture communication if we want the child to talk? We don’t want the pictures to replace words. Imagine that you were dropped in a foreign country where you don’t speak… Read More »Why Picture Communication Supports Talking (And Doesn’t Replace It)
I was observing a client of mine who is in a group setting. I couldn’t help but notice another student in the group (not one of mine). This other child is not able to speak and really wanted to play with the play-doh. So what did he do? He screamed until the teacher gave in… Read More »5 Steps to a Simple Communication System
A child’s life is full of transitions. They go from their bed to the car to school to the playground, etc… For some children, this can be extremely difficult and transitions can be when teachers and caregivers tend to see a lot of negative behaviour. Why is this? Most of the time, it’s due to… Read More »Transitions: 4 Tips to Prevent Meltdowns
Should I be concerned that my toddler isn’t talking? As parents, we know that our children go through phases and it’s often not worth worrying too much about it. When they’re learning to walk, we let them fall – it’s part of the process. They’ll experience heartbreak, boredom, and disappointment – all par for the… Read More »Late Talker or Autism?
Conversation is tricky. There are so many moving parts but many of us learn it incidentally. However, for some of our students, it’s not always as easy. When do I talk about myself vs. ask a question? When is it appropriate to change the subject? Sometimes as a result of therapy, our kids get really… Read More »4 Ways to Teach Kids to Initiate Conversation
I thought I’d address some of what I’ve been hearing lately: “Do you offer ABA or IBI?” (from a parent) “I don’t do ABA, I do PRT” (from a professional) For some reason, ABA is FULL of acronyms. This can seem daunting to someone unfamiliar with the field. First, a glossary: ABA Acronyms &… Read More »DTT, ABA, PRT, IBI – WTH???
The beginning of a new school year can be an exciting time. For others, it evokes more fear and worry than glee. For our children and students with ASD, A new school year can mean difficult transitions, loud noises, intimidating social situations, and unrealistic classroom demands. We want to set our little ones up for… Read More »Prepare Your Child or Student with ASD for School
Unfortunately, writing good program descriptions is not something that was covered in the training to become BCBA certified. Most of us have a solid background in the foundations and principles of ABA yet we weren’t taught how to apply that knowledge to creating programs. Sure, there are assessment tools that guide us but children don’t… Read More »How to Write a Good ABA Program
How many times have we asked a student, “Where do you go to sleep?” and they answer “At night”? Or “When do you go swimming?” and they answer “in the pool”? Answering ‘wh questions’ is a difficult skill for many of our students. A typical child should be able to answer “where” and “what’s that”… Read More »Teaching How to Answer ‘Wh Questions’
Teaching social skills can be one of the most challenging areas of programming. It’s so important but it doesn’t come naturally for so many of our students. Social skills are individualized and constantly changing so the program has to be dynamic enough to keep up. So how do we program for this in a way that… Read More »Using Board Games to Promote Language
One of my favourite things about my job is when we get clients when they are young (2-3 years old). This means that I love creating an ABA program for beginners who might just be learning to talk and socialize. First, let’s clarify what I mean by “beginner”: it’s not only age-based but it could… Read More »Beginner ABA Program
Too often, my sons come home complaining that they lost their recess time because classmates were behaving badly. This is one of my pet peeves as a parent, former teacher and BCBA. Recess is non-contingent reinforcement and I believe it should NOT be earned or lost. Generally, removing outdoor time does not improve behaviour – kids… Read More »Classroom Reinforcement Systems That Work
There are a lot of tools in my BCBA tool box that I use regularly to help shape positive behaviour. A behaviour contract is one of my go-tos for learners who are able to wait for delayed reinforcement. When implementing, it’s important that the learner understands what behaviours are being reinforced even if they’re not accessing… Read More »How To Effectively Write A Behaviour Contract
When I was a classroom teacher, I didn’t always have the tools or knowledge to effectively deal with learning or behavioural challenges. It was frustrating! Soon after I graduated with a Masters in Education, I was given a group of 4-year-old preschool children; and, despite my years of studying, I was unprepared. There was one… Read More »5 ABA Principles I Wish I Knew When I Was a Teacher
My 5-year-old daughter just finished telling me about her adventure at the Science Centre, leaving no detail out. She’s a chatterbox! My hubby and I love listening to her, especially because she was tight-lipped until she was close to three. To promote language in our late talker, I used communication temptations and labeled everything we… Read More »Daily Activities To Promote Language
When you pick up Patty from school or daycare, you always find her alone spinning toys and humming to herself. She seems happy by the situation but you’re not – you’d prefer that Patty would participate with peers. You wish that she could make friends and have fun playing with them. In general, that’s hard for… Read More »6 Ways To Help Your Child Make Friends
Talking face-to-face, your child with autism doesn’t look at you. Her eyes have never intentionally met yours. It’s hurtful sometimes – it would feel so connective if she’d gaze at you when you said I love you – and at other times it comes across as rude. It’s not her fault and it’s not yours.… Read More »Look At Me: How To Encourage Eye Contact
Trying to teach Julie some of the targets we dished about in How To Foster Independence Skills and How To Teach Your Young Child Self Care Skills with not much success? No sweat! The solution to the struggle: Task analysis and chaining. Some kiddos are unable to learn how to brush their teeth or put on their… Read More »Tackle Big Skills In Baby Steps
Hi, Broken Record: Bet you’re hoarse, or maybe blue in the face, from telling your kiddo to do things over and over and over again. SHE DOESN’T LISTEN and it’s driving you crazy. You’ve yelled, you’ve begged, you’ve bargained, you’ve read books, but your sweetie still has incredibly selective hearing. Stop pulling your hair out… Read More »How To Get Your Child To Listen To You
On paper, Shayna Gaunt – she’s the co-founder of How to ABA and the director of Kid Mechanix – is an all-star. Her resume is extensive and impressive; she’s an incredible BCBA. And in person, she’s even better. She gives 110 percent to every client she works with and every therapist she trains. Her energy… Read More »Up Close And Personal With How to ABA Co-Founder Shayna Gaunt
When Shira Karpel walks into the room, kids’ faces light up. She’s knows exactly how to relate to and have fun with each client, playing with their favourite toys, singing the coolest songs and giving just the kind of tickles or squeezes they love. Our second in command is also amazing at her job because she’s… Read More »Shira Karpel: Get To Know The BCBA That Kids Love
Your cutie can’t get enough of storytime. Given the opportunity, he would have you read the same book over and over several times a day. Say YES! Reading regularly to your little love comes with big benefits.
We’ve taught tons of clients with learning challenges how to read, spell and do math. How? We often use The Maloney Method curriculum –evidence-based programming that effectively and efficiently advances learners’ abilities. What makes The Maloney Method programs stand out from many other reading, writing and math syllabuses is that they emphasize fluency. That means that students have to… Read More »Meet The Mastermind Behind The Maloney Method
After the presents are unwrapped and family dinners are devoured, what’s on your calendar? Sleep! Sugar detox! Penny-pinching! And, most importantly, keeping your darling with autism occupied and engaged while school’s out. No need to stress about the what, where and how much – we’ve got that covered. Here are super-fun and almost-free holiday activities… Read More »6 Holiday Activities That Are Inexpensive
Stuck on what to give your sweetie this holiday season? Consider wrapping up presents that improve your sweetie’s mood and skills, create memories and promote independence. When Kevin can learn to brush his teeth like a pro or walk home from school safely, his self-confidence will soar. Priceless! Here are our favourite prezzies that help… Read More »Gifts That Promote Independence
You’re a real-life superhero. Seriously! It takes unimaginable strength, love, energy and patience to parent a child with special needs. You give everything you have to give to your sweetie, as you should, because Sam is incredible and he deserves simply the best. And so do you! You work around the clock and, in order to… Read More »How to Make Time For Yourself
Dear Caregiver, How exciting that your child is about to receive ABA therapy for the first time! If you’re still in the process of picking out a team, be sure to ask these questions to help you pinpoint a quality provider. We know that it can be unnerving as you welcome unfamiliar professionals into your… Read More »Building Rapport: The Importance Of Pairing
Remember Simon? The kiddo is going through a tremendous growth spurt! Along with getting taller, the 8-year-old with autism is making monumental social, behavioural and academic gains. He’s blossoming into a humorous, mild-mannered chatterbox who reads like a pro and loves to play games with his peers. One of his favourites: Zombie tag with the… Read More »Simon’s Story Part 2: How ABA Has Helped Him Soar
Greetings from the seaside! As I write this blog, my daughter is playing in the waves with her dad. They just finished counting the birds in the sky and now they’re talking about what swims in the ocean. Unbeknownst to her, my four-year-old is strengthening and developing skills as she has fun splashing my husband.… Read More »4 Fun Activities To Make Summer Sensational
Classrooms are closed for the season but that doesn’t mean learning should stop. Your little sponge is ready to soak up knowledge, know-how and skills all year round! So dust off those books and help keep Suzie’s learning alive this summer at home. Practicing math, reading or social skills for a short time every day… Read More »5 Summer Learning Programs To Do At Home
If you’re stuck in a getaway rut, do something different this summer. How about a beach holiday? One that allows you to sip a cocktail by the ocean while your child on the spectrum participates in fun resort activities? Dreamy! And, fortunately, possible. More destinations are offering autism-friendly vacations, providing services, accommodations and meals that help your whole… Read More »4 Autism-Friendly Vacation Destinations
So, you’re in the market for an ABA provider for your child. Maybe that’s because his psychologist recommended ABA therapy for autism; maybe it’s of your own volition, seeing that your kiddo needs help strengthening skills that are challenging for him, such as personal care, emotional regulation, social skills, communication or spelling and math. The… Read More »Ask These Questions When Picking A Quality ABA Provider
As parents, you and I know that our sweeties need sleep – lots of it. Without enough, they wake up cranky and groggy (your morning routine will be rougher), have a hard time concentrating at school and are more prone to negative behaviour. Plus, getting enough Zzzs is important for their memory and overall health and… Read More »6 Tips For A Calmer, Easier Bedtime
Are weekday mornings before 8 am the most stressful part of your day? Do you run out of the house without breakfast, make up half done and your hair sideways? I can completely relate! On weekends, my 4-year-old would wake up sweet-as-sugar, get dressed and go to the bathroom independently. But come Monday morning, she seemed to forget all that (you’d… Read More »Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Morning Routine
Is your kiddo with autism calm and compliant in therapy yet unruly at home? It’s quite a common scenario and one that’s easy enough to fix. The remedy: Parent coaching. When you know how to handle troublesome behaviour the way Kevin’s ABA team does, you’ll notice positive changes in his demeanor at home. That’s a promise!… Read More »The Power And Importance Of Parent Coaching
We have a client with autism who adores going to Florida. He talks about it all year, asking every Friday if he can go on Saturday. Not only is it adorable, it’s remarkable, because going to new places used to be incredibly hard for him (as it is for most people on the spectrum). We… Read More »6 Tips for Traveling With A Child With Autism
A core tool that we use in ABA is positive reinforcement. It’s one of the best ways to shape better behaviour! Yet, plenty of people confuse it with giving bribes and, as such, are quick to dismiss it. Let’s clear the air, so we’re all on the same page. Bribery is not a synonym for… Read More »Reinforcement & Bribery: Is There A Difference?
We’re not really into cliché New Year’s resolutions. Been there, done that, fallen off the wagon countless times. We do, however, dig resolutions that help kids to learn and grow at home. They’re absolutely worthwhile. For example, let’s say you commit to helping Sally speak. With a bit daily work – you have to be… Read More »7 Resolutions You’ll Want To Stick To
‘Tis the season to be jolly! And, let’s be honest, kind of stressed. The price of gifts, party prep and extra time with the in-laws can be hair-pulling for you, parents. The holidays can be hard on your kiddo with autism, too. There are lots of things that can unsettle little Ricky: changes in routine,… Read More »4 Strategies To Reduce Holiday Stress
Playing dress up, tea party, soccer and Hide-and-Seek is as easy as breathing for neurotypical kids. They innately know what to do and nothing makes them happier than games with their friends. That’s not the case for children with autism. For them, playing, especially with pals, isn’t second nature; it’s actually kind of foreign. What’s… Read More »Play is a Child’s Work
Simon is really excited about Halloween. For weeks, he’s been pretending to be scary monsters and spooky ghosts, giggling as he tries to scare his ABA therapy team. BOO! ROAR! He asks everyone what they’re going to be for Halloween and shares that he’s dressing up as Super Mario. Such sweet words to hear! Just four… Read More »Simon’s Story: How ABA Has Helped Him Communicate
This Thanksgiving weekend, go jump in a pile of leaves with your little pumpkin. Then, partially cover her in the foliage and play Peek-a-Boo. It’s a hoot! And it’s great way to work on relationship development and joint attention. Here are a few more of our favourite fall activities that foster laughter, learning and social… Read More »Terrific Thanksgiving Activities
Let’s say you’re hanging out with your neighbour, Paul. In your time together, you’ll point out interesting things in the backyard, look at him when he’s commenting on your blooming petunias and make eye contact throughout your game of cards. Joint attention, which is essentially the ability to get, hold and shift attention when you’re… Read More »Teach Your Child Joint Attention
Some kids moan and groan about going back to school. Not Carter: He’s pumped to start Grade 2! We’re excited, too. Just a few years ago, Carter wasn’t able to communicate; now, after a lot of ABA therapy, he is a child excelling in the classroom and chatting with peers. Woo hoo! Here are the… Read More »Carter’s Story: How ABA Therapy Has Helped Him Thrive
Inside Out, Disney’s new animated flick, is quickly winning over kids and adults. We love it, too. What appeals to us is that the movie brings emotions to life in a way that makes them easier for kids with Asperger’s and high-functioning Autism (ASD) to understand. So watch it once, twice or thrice with your kiddo,… Read More »7 Ways To Help Your Asperger’s Child Understand Emotions
Is your typically developing toddler (18-24months old) or minimally verbal child with ASD tight-lipped when it comes to speaking? Fret not! There are reliable ways to get your child to talk. We recommend communication temptations for the beginner talker, which involve setting up enticing scenarios that encourage words out of your sweetie. The key, moms… Read More »Tips To Get Your Child To Talk
Have a tablet? Use it to help your kids learn. Since iPads are cool, they’ll be motivated to do their ABCs. Here are the educational apps we like the most, because they’re highly effective and super fun. Apps are a great tool for you child with (or without) ASD.
Think about the times you’ve been honoured for your contributions at work, gushed over for cooking a delicious meal or high-fived for rocking it at karaoke. Likely, the recognition made you feel awesome and motivated to do more of the same. Positive reinforcement helps bring out the best in all of us, especially children! Focusing on and praising your… Read More »The Power Of Positive Reinforcement
Transitions are hard for many kids. Simply ending one activity and beginning a new one can trigger meltdowns. Are you pulling your hair out because Timmy always cries and shrieks when it is the transition from playtime to snack time? No sweat! Take the stress out of transitions by implementing these easy strategies.
We meet a lot of people who assume that, because we’re experts in applied behaviour analysis (ABA), we work exclusively with people on the autism spectrum. In the minds of many, ABA=therapy for autism and nothing else. That’s a myth – one of many misconceptions about ABA – and the truth is that ABA is not… Read More »Debunking The Myth: ABA Is Not Just For Autism
When your child consistently misbehaves in certain situations – maybe she throws sand at the park or he bolts away from you at the mall – consider putting them on a contract. A written agreement that’s properly drafted can help shape positive behaviour, motivate your child to try their best and teach self-responsibility. Here’s how… Read More »Improve Behaviour With A Behaviour Contract
Rain Man is one of the most popular movies featuring autism, but it’s not the only flick worth renting if you want to see ASD in action on the big screen. After the kids are in bed, curl up with a bowl of popcorn and watch one of these good films showcasing Autism:
Sebastien was diagnosed with autism at age 3 in the late 1990s. Back then, applied behavioural analysis (ABA) in the treatment of ASD wasn’t popular like it is today; but his parents decided it was the only therapy that made sense for their son, as he continued to deteriorate and life became more unbearable. The… Read More »The Power Of ABA: Sebastien’s Story
Tamar is a 20-year-old who’s majoring in Child and Youth studies at Brock University. She lives with roommates, cooks for herself, socializes with friends, belongs to a club and studies hard just like many other scholars. You’d never guess that she was diagnosed with autism at age 2. Early ABA intervention really helped Tamar transform… Read More »Overcoming Autism: Tamar’s Story
What are you to do when your child with ASD dances naked in front of company, gets anxious when they make a mistake or doesn’t wash his hands after going to the bathroom? Our suggestion: Read social stories. They can be very effective at teaching self-help, self-soothing and social skills. They can also help your… Read More »Writing Effective Social Stories Is Easy
Shane, an 18-year-old who was diagnosed with autism at age 2, has made remarkable gains in his life. He’s grown from an anxious child who found it hard to make friends into a young man who’s thriving as a biology student at Trent University. He loves living away from home and has a solid social… Read More »Growing Out Of Autism: Shane’s Story
Have a young learner who doesn’t know how to read, or is struggling with reading? Rather than spend on tutors, help them at home with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
Wished you could wear the shoes of your loved one with ASD to experience what he experiences? Here’s a little insight: Imagine going for a walk and being bombarded by lights and sounds so intense that you can’t help but scream and meltdown. Whoa! Yes, that’s what a stroll down the street can be like… Read More »Sensory Overload Simulations
Since the holidays are almost here, we bet that you already have presents ready to give to your young sweetie with autism. But keep on shopping — even just a little bit! Treat your child to one or more of the following fun gifts that help improve their skills or mood.
Parenting a child with special needs is a challenging responsibility that takes endless amounts of effort, time and energy. So, please pamper these hard-working caregivers this holiday season! Here are several thoughtful gifts to give to your very-deserving partner or friends.
If you did the ABC homework we outlined in Part 2, you should have a clearer idea of what is triggering your child’s tantrums and under which category the antecedents (triggers) fall. The next step is to implement the behaviour management strategies to manage challenging behaviours. (To find the right strategies for you and your… Read More »How to Manage Challenging Behaviour – Part 3
In Part 1 of this series, we outlined the general purpose of negative behaviour. Now, we focus on how to figure out what’s specifically triggering your child. Next we outline ways to help manage challenging behaviour.
Screaming, hitting, biting, flopping, self-injurious head banging, defiance. Does this sound like a regular Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night (or day, if you’re a teacher) with your youngster? If so, you must be frustrated and exhausted. Being able to manage challenging behaviour can be difficult, especially if it happens frequently.
When you have autism, there’s a lot more than ghosts and goblins that make Halloween unnerving. The sounds, lights, crowds, crazy costumes and transitions, such as during trick-or-treating, can be very stressful. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be an awful occasion for kids with ASD. Here are a few things you can… Read More »4 Ways To Make Halloween Less Scary For Kids With Autism
Check out this cool new comic for kids with ASD: http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/making-a-difference/comic-book-stars-worlds-first-hero-autism-n190321 http://facevaluecomics.com Looking for more media that includes people with Autism? Check out our post on 7 Films Featuring Autism!
Behaviour Analysts encourage the use of “behaviour specific praise” vs. “general praise” statements. This poster does a great job of summarizing some alternatives to “Good job.” Want to read more about types of reinforcement? Check out some of our blog posts!
Because of the nature of diagnosis, individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are usually less social and more rigid, making them great employees! Find out how ASD employees can be perfect for all types of jobs! Social and language impairments are beneficial when tasks need to get done. Employees with ASD won’t be caught socializing… Read More »Companies Hire Individuals with ASD for Jobs
Difficulty with a child who just does not listen? These two articles are great refreshers! http://www.ahaparenting.com/_blog/Parenting_Blog/post/Obedience_Why_Do_You_Have_To_Tell_Them_Five_Times/ http://www.ahaparenting.com/_blog/Parenting_Blog/post/10_Secrets_Every_Parent_Needs_to_Know_about_Saying_No/ For more information, read our post about The Premack Principle and Following Through with Instruction!
Here’s an interesting article from The New York Times about talking to your children about their diagnosis: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/13/talking-to-children-about-their-disabilities-with-metaphors-and-minecraft/?_php=true&_type=blogs&emc=edit_tnt_20140513&nlid=39278382&tntemail0=y&_r=0 What if it is an ASD diagnosis? Read more here!
Did your child receive a diagnosis for ASD? Autism Speaks has a 100-day tool kit that is available for free for parents. http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/tool-kits/100-day-kit 100 Day Kit Includes:a) Autism diagnosis, causes, and symptomsb) Family tips: Sharing, caring, and the futurec) Early intervention and education rightsd) Information on therapies and treatmentse) Assembling and managing your teamf) 10… Read More »Help! My child received a diagnosis of ASD
Wendy Chung’s TED Talk: Autism – What we know (and what we don’t know yet) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wKlMcLTqRLs Read our post about Developmental Milestones!
There are no long term research studies done yet, but this may be the way of the future for some individuals with ASD. http://gulfnews.com/1.1254589 Also interesting in brain news… http://abcnews.go.com/Health/eegs-someday-diagnose-autism/story?id=16646255 Read more about Detecting Early Signs of Autism!
Here is an article about using an iPad to increase communication: http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/technology/maximizing-use-ipad?utm_source=social-media&utm_medium=text-link&utm_campaign=espeaks Read our post on Picture Communication here!
Parenting is not easy. Discipline and punishment is also a polarizing topic. Punishment and parenting shows us that parents’ harsh words may make teen behaviour worse. Read more in this article! Punishment means something different to Behaviourists, than it does to laypersons. Here are the different types of Punishment and Reinforcement.
The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) has developed the following research-based materials: The Kit for Kids (free): This kit is designed to teach elementary and middle school students about their peers with autism. http://www.researchautism.org/resources/KitforKidsResource.asp The Aspergers DVD Series ($5): The purpose of this DVD is to educate college professors (and others) about what it’s like to be a… Read More »Resources from OAR: the Organization for Autism Research
The first step to changing behaviour is ATTENTION to POSITIVE behaviour – so get started today and increase your repertoire of positive praise! Here’s a great tip from educator, Micheal Maloney: Take a pencil. Write down as many ways as you can praise a child in a one-minute period. What’s your number? The standard is approximately… Read More »Behaviour Change Through Positive Attention
Interesting new research on the early diagnosis of autism: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/06/study-signs-of-autism-may-show-up-as-early-as-first-month/ Find out more about Developmental Milestones here!
Read how to end child nagging in the article from Positive Parenting Solutions. Find out how to use these strategies to end child nagging and negotiating! Check out our blog on Differential Reinforcement!
People with disabilities are great workers and contribute so much to any work force or work team! Read the article here! People with all types of disabilities contribute to many types of jobs. Looking for more articles on ASD and the workforce? Read this!
Jobs for people with Autism? German software firm SAP says it wants to hire hundreds of people with autism to work as programmers and testers for its products. Possibilities for jobs are on the rise. http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/05/22/business-autism-sap.html
We are often asked what is developmentally appropriate for children. The following website contains great information re: developmental milestones. (Note: We also consult developmental milestones when developing ABA programs to ensure that our programming is developmentally appropriate) http://www.theroadmap.ualberta.ca/home If you have concerns re: your child’s development, contact your family doctor or developmental pediatrician.