Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #444
CE Offered: BACB
Achieving Independence: New Solutions That Help Students Surmount Traditional Barriers to Independent Demonstration of Skills
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Centennial Ballroom III
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Elizabeth Martineau (Nashoba Learning Group)
CE Instructor: Elizabeth Martineau, Other

Overcoming fine and gross motor deficits, analyzing the smallest components of target skills, and developing interventions that lead to the demonstration of independent skills are some of the greatest challenges in teaching students with autism. New solutions are needed to assist students in crossing these barriers. Fine and gross motor deficits are obstacles to skill development in traditional behavioral programming. At times, it has been determined that a student does not have a target skill in his or her repertoire, when closer investigation may yield that motor impairments are simply preventing the demonstration of the skill in the given context. Additionally, when students are unsuccessful in following typical curriculum progressions, a closer analysis of component skills should be completed to ensure proper prerequisite instruction and individual adaptation of the curriculum hierarchy. When it has been prematurely determined that a student is unable to acquire a specific skill, that students advancement may be limited. Furthermore, students are often limited by their ability to demonstrate skills independently. If students are able to perform skills accurately without the presence of an instructor, limitations to inclusion and success in a variety settings are lessened. Utilizing remote monitoring is an effective method to acquire independence in vocational, self-help and leisure skills.

Adapting ABA Curricula to Accommodate Gross and Fine Motor Limitations.
JESSICA SLATON (Nashoba Learning Group, Simmons College), Elizabeth Martineau (Nashoba Learning Group, Simmons College), Maureen J. Lacerte (Nashoba Learning Group, Simmons College)
Abstract: Curricula designed using an ABA format is generally quite specific in its format, presentation and criteria. They are based on sound conceptual frameworks and are relayed to other professionals using solid technological language. This allows others to generalize these strategies without loss of effectiveness. There may be a tendency, however, to limit adaptations because of concerns about generality and effectiveness. This case presentation demonstrates how professionals can make appropriate changes without altering the core properties of the programming. Two students currently receiving intense programming based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis present with a myriad of fine and gross motor limitations. Their success using the prescribed curricula was limited. Adaptions such as limiting field size, altering position of materials, shifting from expressive identification to receptive ( less of a motor response), training specific motor responses before responding must occur, training with laser as a guide and picture memory are some of the adaptations that have allowed their successful access to the curricula. Demonstration of skill and continued advancement are the end products of such adaptations. Assessing a student’s motor capabilities should be a prerequisite when working with such students, allowing those students to access otherwise very effective curricula.
Delayed Imitation to Increase Visual Memory as a Prerequisite to Following Two Step Directions.
MAUREEN J. LACERTE (Nashoba Learning Group, Simmons College)
Abstract: Typical curriculum progressions/advancements may require further investigation and analysis of task prerequisites in order to increase efficacy. When progress is slow and curriculum adaptations have not impacted that trajectory a component analysis may illuminate which skills are necessary in order for the learner to experience success. This study presents a learner whose progress acquiring the ability to follow two step imitation was limited, despite his solid skill level acquired in one step motor imitation and many curriculum adaptations, including video modeling, verbal prompting, and graduated guidance techniques. A component analysis of the task revealed prerequisites that included visual memory, a skill this student had not demonstrated as yet. A program was designed to train delayed motor imitation with delays initially set at 1 second and gradually increased to 5 seconds in length. Upon successful acquisition of motor imitation with a 5 second delay inserted, this student was then able to demonstrate a two step motor imitation with reasonable accuracy. In sum, our assumptions about a curriculum hierarchy may limit our abilities to successfully teach a student if we do not challenge these by carefully analyzing those skills we are addressing.
Independent Schedule Training as a Toileting Program.
ROBYN E. STEWART (Nashoba Learning Group, Simmons College), Maureen J. Lacerte (Nashoba Learning Group, Simmons College)
Abstract: Toilet training, a seemingly difficult skill for many children to acquire, is generally taught with one of two end goals in mind; schedule trained or independent use of the toilet. Independent use of the toilet requires that a student, without prompting, either request to use the bathroom or access it independently, and complete all of the required steps. A task analysis may include all of the following: undress if necessary, sit appropriately, urinate or defecate without assistance, wipe appropriately, flush the toilet, redress if necessary, and wash thoroughly. For many learners the acquisition of independence is a very lengthy process. In response to this, an adaptation to a schedule training program (successfully implemented and acquired) is to train for independence within this program. Using a task analysis, specific to the learner, signals (such as timers) and graduated guidance as initial prompting procedures, a student at Nashoba Learning Group, was successfully trained to use the toilet independently, without adult assistance, on a schedule throughout the course of his school day. In addition, generalization to the home environment can be trained using the same techniques with an initial time investment from caretakers that eventually dissipates.
Using Remote Monitoring to Develop Independence in Task Completion.
ELIZABETH MARTINEAU (Nashoba Learning Group, Simmons College)
Abstract: One of the greatest challenges in educating children with autism is increasing levels of independence in completing tasks and activities. Yearly goals often include that a particular student will complete a target task independently, however in this context, the term “independent” is often defined as the student being able to complete the task correctly, without assistance from an adult. It does not mean that the student is able to complete the task while the instructor is across the room, in another room, or completely out of sight. Skills become significantly more functional if they can be demonstrated at a truly independent level, meaning the task of stuffing envelopes can be completed while the student is alone in an office, or that an entire activity schedule can be completed while the student is in a separate room of the house. Remote monitoring allows instructors to maintain supervision of the student, while remaining out of sight. Performance is consistently monitored and supervision systematically faded. Utilizing remote monitoring in conjunction with systematic fading of supervision and reinforcement was effective in teaching 2 school-age students with autism to complete vocational tasks, self-help routines, and activity schedules at a truly independent level.



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