Got autism? Want a happy car trip? Here’s how you can teach your child.

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement


Do you have a hard time taking your child places in the car?

Does your child make noises or flail about?

Do you feel nervous when you set out?

Would you like to concentrate on traffic instead of an agitated child?

Good car behavior is critical for the well-being of the family. Life is better when your child feels calm and happy in the car, and the family can go out and have a good time.

TAGteach is an excellent and easy way to build good car travel skills in small increments. With TAGteach, you “tag” a desired behavior of the child with an event marker signal (the “tagger”) and then “reinforce” (give a treat of the child’s liking). TAGteach allows the child to experience success for very small behaviors that eventually add up to a strong, complex behavior. Use the tag points below (and modify as necessary!) to teach your child to cooperate with getting into the car, and sitting calmly and quietly for the duration of the drive.

First small step: show that the car is a great place to be

Instead of taking an anxious child out in the car, start by showing the child that the car is just an object on the driveway. Park the car on the driveway and tag and reinforce the child every time she looks at or walks near the car. Here are some potential movements to tag:

  1. Child walks next to car, Tag and Reinforce.
  2. Child stands next to car, Tag and Reinforce.
  3. Child touches or opens car door, Tag and Reinforce.
  4. Child walks to another door, Tag and Reinforce.
  5. Child touches or opens another door, Tag and Reinforce.
  6. Child glances inside car, Tag and Reinforce.

Give the child as much time as she needs to become comfortable around the exterior of the car. Spend a few minutes several times a day working around the exterior of the car. Keep it up until your child is comfortable.


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Got autism? Want your child to be safe outside? Here’s how to teach Safe Walking.

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

Do you

  • worry that your child will bolt or run off?
  • have to chase after your child constantly to keep him safe?
  • have a hard time walking through grocery stores or your neighborhood?

Many autism families have these problems. As a result we often find ourselves isolated at home and fearful of going beyond the fenced-in yard.

How nice it would be if our children could walk safely next to us, stop at corners and walk across the street on signal. I taught these skills to my nonverbal son with severe autism. With TAGteach (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) it was easy. You can teach these skills to your child too. Here’s how to do it, literally, one step at a time.

Look before you leap

It’s helpful to assess your child before teaching a new skill.  To assess your child’s walking and running behaviors, download the free Child Observation Form or simply make notes on a sheet of paper. Take your child to a safe area, like the fenced-in yard, and spend five minutes observing his walking and running behavior.

Observe the legs and feet. How many steps does your child take in the same direction? Does he alternate walking, running or hopping? Does he alternate running quickly with running slowly? How frequently does he change direction? What are the walking problems you commonly encounter outside on the street or in a store? Describe the physical movements your child makes with legs and feet.


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Got Autism? Need to Sleep? You can teach your child to stay in bed and sleep, sleep, sleep ….

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

This post is one in a series designed to help you get out of the house and enjoy life with your child. Previously we described how to deal with anxiety and disruptive behaviors, so as to overcome these before moving on to outside excursions. Here we talk about sleep. Sleep is essential to a happy life with your child. If the family is not sleeping it is very difficult to manage anything else.

As autism parents we may find ourselves

  • Lying down with a child for hours to get him to sleep,
  • bringing him into our own bed,
  • taking the child to another bed or room in the house,
  • dealing with the problem all over again during the inevitable night-time wake-ups.

We know what it is like to struggle with sleep problems for four to eight hours. It’s exhausting, agonizing and depressing.

My family dealt with those problems for years. When I learned about TAGteach, I was able to teach my son to lie still, be quiet, and go to sleep.

I’ll be honest. This took some time. It was hard work. I often felt depressed and resentful. But eventually, my son learned to sleep. This is a step by step process that will take some time, but if you don’t start it now, you will still not be sleeping weeks and months from now. It is worth the effort to take baby steps toward sleep and reap the rewards for years to come.

Thanks to this systematic approach, now we sleep and we are much happier.

Let’s see how to tackle the sleep problem with the always useful, effective and flexible TAGteach approach.

First things first – Consistent Routine

The following steps are always recommended for sleep problems:

  1. set a consistent wake-up time early in the morning
  2. set a consistent bedtime in the evening
  3. limit screen time before bedtime
  4. avoid large meals or snacks late in the evening.


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Got autism? Have a child with anxiety and disruptive behaviors? Here’s what you can do.

autism help, tagteach, ABA, applied behavior analysis

This post is one in a series designed to help you get out of the house and enjoy life with your child. If your child is anxious and exhibiting disruptive behaviors, these need to be overcome before moving on to outside excursions.

A Mother’s Concern

Recently a mom told me that she was worried about her 12-year old child, who is low-functioning and nonverbal.

Her daughter becomes agitated and upset in public places; she screams and puts her head down when in those settings.

The daughter also displays anxiety. The mother asked for some suggestions to relieve the child’s anxiety.

Behavioral Science Explains Why This is Happening

Let’s back up a little. From the laws of behavioral science, we know that behavior that is reinforced is behavior that will occur again. As hard as this may be to believe, the daughter is experiencing more reinforcement for screaming and putting her head down, than for an alternative behavior. What is she experiencing that is reinforcing her for screaming? We don’t know the answer to that question, and it would take a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) to find out, but ….

In the meantime the mother, or any parent, can take action with the following steps: (1) Collect data (2) Observe her daughter to see what kinds of functional behaviors she already has, and (3) Set up a reinforcement plan to reinforce appropriate alternative behaviors.


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Got autism? Got screaming and verbal stimming? You can teach your child peace and quiet.

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement


Screaming, loud noises, verbal stimming.

These are the sounds autism parents hear all too frequently in their homes.

They never seem to stop.

They drive us to distraction.

They can destroy the peace and quiet of the family. But, something can be done.

When my son was little, he did a lot of screaming and verbal stimming. I discovered that with the positive behavioral method known as TAGteach (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) I was able to reduce these sounds, increase appropriate vocalizations and get some of that precious peace and quiet.

TAGteach uses positive reinforcement

TAGteach is based on the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and uses positive reinforcement to build desired behaviors. In addition to the positive reinforcement, TAGteach adds an “event marker” i.e., an acoustical signal to indicate to the child when he/she has performed a desired behavior. The acoustical signal is generally a click sound, called a “tag” made by any type of clicker device, or better yet, a TAGteach tagger.  After the “tag,” you give a reinforcer to the child. Here’s how I used this. (more…)

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TAGteach for autism parents: An easy, effective and kind method for teaching your child

Okay, TAGteach. I’m a parent. What’s in it for me?


Answer: A better life

TAGteach is a way to improve your family’s home life and give you more opportunities to include your child with autism in everyday outings.

TAGteach is a way to teach and communicate with your child.

TAGteach is an easy, effective, low-cost and scientifically-based way for parents to increase their child’s functional skills.

TAGteach is great for parents. Here’s why.

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementYou already know 95% of what you need to know to use TAGteach!

You observe your child every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You know your child.

You know your child’s needs and wants.

You are familiar with his setting.

You know his routines, triggers, limits and sensory profile.

You have a trained eye!

You are the expert on your family.

You know your family’s priorities.

You can apply your family’s values.

You can tailor everything precisely to your unique situation.

You have 95% of the knowledge you need to teach your child the behaviors he needs – the behaviors that will increase your family’s opportunities for a happier home life and participation in the community.


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Know the three essential conditions for effective teaching? Guess the third one!

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

Here’s the answer:

  • Learning organized in small steps

To review, the three essential conditions for effective learning are:

  1. Immediate Feedback
  2. Student Learns at Own Pace
  3. Learning Organized in Small Steps

We’ve discussed the first two conditions described by Dr. B.F. Skinner, Immediate Feedback and Student Learns At Own Pace. This post will address the third condition.

Learning Organized in Small Steps

The third essential condition for effective learning is a carefully constructed program where the skill is taught in many small steps. The reason for this is to ensure that the child experiences success in the learning progression. Many successful small steps result in a confident, motivated learner.


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Know the three essential conditions for effective teaching? Guess the second one!

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementHere’s the answer:

  • Student learns at own pace

To review, the three essential conditions are:

  1. Immediate Feedback
  2. Student Learns at Own Pace
  3. Learning Organized in Small Steps

We’ve already discussed the first condition, Immediate Feedback. This post will address the second condition: Student Learns at Own Pace.

Student Learns at Own Pace

Dr. Skinner emphasizes the need for students to learn at their own pace.  Learning at her own pace is crucial for a child with autism. Our kids have so many sensory and emotional issues that the teaching process must respect their need for time to respond to, and understand new stimuli.

Since children with autism often have problems with pre-cursor learning skills such as eye contact and imitation skills, it is important to teach these. Yet, eye contact, for example, can be a difficult task for a child with autism for a variety of reasons.


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Use These 4 Proven Reinforcement Tips and Watch Your Child Soar, by Elna Cain

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcement


Introducing Elna Cain

Today’s guest post comes to us courtesy of Elna Cain. Elna is a freelance writer who lives in Northern Canada with her husband and twin children. She is a former Special Education Assistant (SEA) and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist for children with autism.

Elna’s Background in Autism

As a Special Education Assistant (SEA) and ABA Instructor for over 10 years, I’ve witnessed many breakthroughs in a child’s success to learning.

I’ve helped children learn how to play with their peers, to wait patiently in line, to ride a bike and even how to enjoy eating pizza. Many, if not all, of those successes were attributed to effective reinforcement.

What is Reinforcement?

Reinforcement is the addition or removal of a stimulus in order to increase or decrease the likelihood of a behavior.

In other words, do you know the ding ding ding noise you hear when you open your car door? That annoying sound is a stimulus that will increase your likelihood of putting on your seatbelt.

Car companies utilize negative reinforcement (putting on your seatbelt to stop the noise) as a way to increase seat belt wearing.

Similarly, when a teacher rewards a student for being quiet when they are working on a worksheet, he or she is using positive reinforcement, which will increase the likelihood of that student continuing being quiet.


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Great TAGteach ideas for the classroom from Italy!

TAGteach, tag point, teaching, positive reinforcementTAGteach goes international

Around the world people are using TAGteach to help children and adults learn new skills.

This article comes from Luca Canever, an educator and Level 3 TAGteacher from Verona, Italy. He shares his knowledge, dedication and love of positive reinforcement techniques at his website, TAGteach Italia.

Luca tells how he came up with great reinforcement ideas for his entire class (group reinforcement!), and how he used TAGteach to help students with specific problem areas. Here is his story.

TAGteach at school: Reinforcing the group

Managing the reinforcement for a group of people is one of the major difficulties that we may encounter. Especially if the people in question are 20 kids, 11 years old, with interests and personalities different from each other.

For the last two months I’ve been working in a school as a teacher. For the first time, I have the chance to use the marker with a large group — a group with no particular desire to be at school! How can we reinforce them? Some of the kids enjoy candies, some others like beads or extra time for recess. There are (they exist!) students who find study itself reinforcing, but, they are very, very, very rare.


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