TAGteach for autism — it’s not Harry Potter, it’s behavioral science!

Zauberer mit magischen Kräften

When Hermione wants to pass through the locked door to the Chamber of Secrets, she waves her wand and cries out, “Alohamora!” In a flash the door opens. This is magic.

As autism parents, we don’t have magic wands. We do have taggers, small plastic boxes with a “magic button” that makes a click sound when pressed. TAGteach taggers, plus two facts, can help parents transform the behavior of their children with autism. With TAGteach it is easy to teach your child helpful skills like Safe Walking, Safe Car Trip Behavior, Going to the Grocery Store, and Sleeping. It’s also great for tantrum de-escalation.

TAGteach stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. TAGteach is a teaching and communication method based on the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

The two facts are:

  • “Behavior” is “movement”
  • Positive Reinforcement Increases Behaviors (physical movements of the body)

TAGteach enables extremely precise positive reinforcement of behavior by using an acoustical signal to “mark” the behavior – at the precise moment the child performs the behavior. The acoustical signal is a short, sharp sound made by a handheld device (the “tagger”). When the child performs the correct action, the parent/instructor immediately presses the button on the tagger and hands over a treat (candy, treat, token, praise, social recognition, or money) as a reinforcer.

With TAGteach, it is easy to reinforce behaviors precisely and quickly. The immediate, accurate feedback and positive reinforcement result in the child performing the correct action more often, and for longer periods of time.

Let’s look at the difference between Harry Potter and TAGteach. With magic, here’s what Harry and his pals do:

  1. They wave their wands (action)
  2. Then something happens (event)

With TAGteach, here’s what autism parents can do:

  1. Wait for something good to happen (event)
  2. Then press the tagger (action)

The order is reversed. The wand makes something happen once. The tagger makes something good happen again. TAGteach is an excellent tool to help your child perform more great behaviors more often.

In order to help autism parents understand and apply these concepts, I have created a free online course that explains the basics of behavior science, how to observe your child and how to use reinforcement effectively.

Click Here for Free Course

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How I taught my nonverbal child with autism to read

autism, reading, TAGteach, Direct Instruction, ABA

Reading — From dream to reality

I am the mother of a nonverbal boy with severe autism.

It was very important to me that my son be able to read:

  • I can accept that he has severe autism
  • I can accept that he is nonverbal
  • I could not accept that he would go through life not knowing how to read

It took me a long time and many hours of work. I made many mistakes. Eventually I succeeded. Here are the three steps I used to teach my son to read: 1) Make sure foundation skills are in place, 2) Use Direct Instruction reading programs, and 3) Provide lots of supports, lots of opportunities to practice, and high levels of positive reinforcement.

Step One: make sure foundation skills are in place

The skills a child with autism will need to begin reading instruction include the ability to sit at a table for at least 15-20 minutes and the ability to respond to questions or complete tasks (this is generally achieved through an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) or VB (Verbal Behavior) program).

During the pre-reading instruction, I focused on increasing the range of sounds my son could produce, and mastering as many labels of objects and actions as possible: such as cat, dog, house, running, sitting, sleeping and so forth.

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TAGteach for Autism: How the Science of B.F. Skinner Helped Our Family Gain Happiness

doug martha beachArticle originally published in Operants, the newsletter of the B.F. Skinner Foundation

I am the mother of a nonverbal teenage boy with severe autism. I’d like to tell you a little bit about my family’s journey with autism, and a lot about the wonderful method known as Teaching with Acoustical Guidance (TAGteach).

I will describe how TAGteach meets the three essential conditions for effective teaching, as delineated by Dr. B.F. Skinner, why this simple method is so effective for learners with autism, and how it can be a boon for autism families and autism professionals. At the end, I hope you will be inspired to try TAGteach for yourself!

Our autism journey

I love ABA now, but came to it by chance, not choice. The day my son was diagnosed with autism was the day that the world turned upside-down for us. It also ended up being the day that eventually brought us to ABA. After that fateful day, we had to deal with a devastating diagnosis, try to get services, find out that the best services (ABA) were out of reach, and then, figure out a way to move forward.

We moved forward first with ABA and Verbal Behavior, and eventually learned about Direct Instruction and Precision Teaching. Each of these made a huge contribution to my son’s progress. I was amazed by these effective scientific methods for teaching, and was astounded then (and still am) that they remain unfamiliar, under-utilized and often inaccessible for most families.

A huge stroke of luck came when I stumbled onto Teaching with Acoustical Guidance (TAGteach). My son had many difficult behaviors; as soon as I read about combining an event marker with positive reinforcement, I realized I had found a way to teach him helpful skills. This turned out to be the case.

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementWhat is TAGteach?

TAGteach stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. TAGteach is a teaching and communication method based on the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

TAGteach enables extremely precise positive reinforcement of behavior by using an acoustical signal to “mark” a behavior – at the precise moment the child performs the behavior! The acoustical signal is a short, sharp click sound made by a handheld device (the “tagger”). When the child performs the correct action, the parent/instructor immediately presses the button on the tagger and hands over a treat (candy, treat, token, praise, social recognition, or money) as a reinforcer.

The TAG is a Conditioned Reinforcer

After a few experiences of hearing the tag and receiving a reinforcer, the child quickly learns that the tag means good things are coming. He starts to look out for the sound, and more importantly, starts figuring out what caused this nice event to happen. The child then relies on the tag to tell him to do that good action again. At this point, it is possible to shape new behaviors in the child quickly and efficiently. TAGteach is so reliable because it meets the three essential conditions for effective teaching, as described below.

The Three Essential Conditions for an Effective Teaching Program

Over fifty years ago, Dr. B.F. Skinner described the three essential conditions of an effective teaching program. They are:

  • Immediate feedback
  • Moving at the child’s pace
  • Learning in many small steps

Let’s see how TAGteach meets each of these requirements.

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementImmediate Feedback

When learning a skill, immediate feedback on whether your response is correct or incorrect is essential to effective learning. Why? Because, when you know instantly that you did something right, you feel success! You will do that good thing again, and you will be willing to try the next step because you have a history of success.

In contrast, delays in feedback lead to delays in learning. If you’re not sure, or if you feel uncertain, you won’t know which action was correct.  You won’t feel confident when another task is presented.  The delay results in confusion and dismay, which negatively affect learning.

How does TAGteach deliver immediate feedback?

With the “tag,” the acoustical signal marks the correct action at the exact moment the child performs it!

In a TAGteach setting, the child (perhaps a child with autism or another disability) performs an action. If the child performs a desired action (for example, putting a puzzle piece in place, saying his name at an appropriate vocal level, or rolling a ball), the parent/instructor immediately “tags” the action with a tagger (the key acoustical signal in TAGteach) and follows up with a reinforcer (a treat or reward to the child’s liking).

Since the child receives the acoustical feedback (the “tag”) at the split second she performs the action, she knows exactly what she did that is right!  This is exhilarating for any child, but especially a child with autism. The “tag” signals success!  “Yes, you did it!”  She feels happy, confident, ready to repeat that great action, and emotionally ready for the next step.

Thus the tag provides immediate feedback to the learner, and TAGteach delivers on the first of these three essential conditions.

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementMoving at the Child’s Pace

Dr. Skinner emphasized the need for students to learn at their own pace.  Learning at her own pace is crucial for a child with autism. These children 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.

How does TAGteach allow the child to learn at her own pace?

By observing the child and waiting for her to act.

In a TAGteach environment, the focus is on observing the child and waiting for her to perform the desired action. In the teaching goal discussed above, the solution is not to force eye contact, but to reinforce it whenever the child performs it. Eye contact, by its very nature, is a fleeting behavior. It is often just a flash and then it disappears.

TAGteach, with the quick “tag,” captures each flicker of eye contact whenever the child chooses to perform it. If the child performs it only once a day or once a week, it will be reinforced at that rate. As the child gains comfort and performs the skill more often, it will be reinforced more often. TAGteach respects the child’s ability to perform this behavior, and allows the child to build it at her own pace.

The TAGteach practice of observing and waiting for the child ensures that the child learns at her own pace, the second of Dr. Skinner’s essential conditions.

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementLearning 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.

How does TAGteach deliver learning in small steps?

With the “tag point” process.

The tag point describes the exact physical movement which will earn the “tag” and reinforcement. The tag point must meet four criteria:

  • What I want
  • One Criterion
  • Observable
  • Five Words or Less

Also, the first tag point must be set at the “point of success.” This means that you start reinforcing a child for performing a behavior she can already do.

Let’s go back to the example of teaching eye contact. We tend to think of eye contact as two people locking their eyes in a mutual gaze. Yet, this girl may not be able to do that; in fact, she may keep her head turned away from people. The first tag point would not be “Looks at me,” but may be, “Head turns ¼ to front.” So, every time she moves her head slightly towards her mother or an instructor, she earns the “tag” and reinforcement.

With time, practice and patience she will regularly turn ¼ to the front, then slightly more, until she is comfortable facing people directly. Once she is comfortable facing people, the tag points can be set for a progression such as “Eyes on my neck/chin,” “Eyes on my cheek/nose,” “Eyes on my eyes.” After she is comfortable with the “Eyes on my eyes” tag point, you can work on duration, until she is comfortable with maintaining eye contact. These many small steps take a child from avoiding eye contact to being comfortable with appropriate eye contact, thus mastering an important learning readiness skill.

With the tag point process, any parent or instructor can start teaching a child a new skill. Start out with something the child can already do. When that is mastered, add one very tiny step to the process and reinforce that until the child is comfortable. Keep building from there.

TAGteach, with the acoustical signal from the “tag,” delivers on all three of the essential conditions outlined by Dr. Skinner. This is the reason for the success of TAGteach.

In summary, with TAGteach it is easy to reinforce behaviors precisely and quickly. The immediate, accurate feedback and positive reinforcement result in the child performing the correct action more often, and for longer periods of time. With immediate feedback and learning tasks broken down into small steps, children can learn many new skills with TAGteach — at their own pace.

Why is TAGteach Ideal for Children with Autism?

The acoustical signal gets around the common problems of sensory processing and speech processing in children with autism, and offers precise, instantaneous reinforcement in place of slower, traditional verbal reinforcement.

TAGteach gets around Sensory and Speech Processing Problems

TAGteach is ideal for children with autism because it gets around the sensory problems commonly associated with autism. Recent research tells us that children with autism perceive physical actions as happening faster than they do in reality, and process speech sounds much more slowly. This places high sensory demands on the child because he has to try to coordinate fast movement with slow words—quite an obstacle to learning.

TAGteach cuts through the confusion. TAGteach uses one consistent sound (the “tag”) to deliver one consistent message, “Yes! You are correct. Now you are getting a reward.” This clear and simple information makes a huge impact. The child quickly learns that the sound means reinforcement is on the way! He learns to look out for it and pay attention to what causes the reinforcement. When he is engaged with his environment and looking for reinforcement, you can start shaping behaviors.

TAGteach lets you deliver reinforcement on time

Slow, late reinforcement causes delays in learning. With TAGteach you can mark a behavior instantaneously and reinforce it promptly. This speeds up the learning process.

Karen Pryor, author of Don’t Shoot the Dog, has a beautiful description of why an audible sound is much better at “marking” a behavior than our spoken words:

“… [P]lease note that the human voice is a very poor marker signal… too long, too slow, too variable, carrying too many confounding messages (your sex, your age, your mood, your health, etc.) and it also almost always late. Furthermore, you can’t distinguish when you are a mini-second late with your voice, but you CAN tell at once, without experience, when your click is late. (Karen Pryor, Penn State Listserve System, Standard Celeration Society, 18 May 2005.)

For these reasons, TAGteach is effective in increasing skills in children with autism.

TAGteach has great potential to help autism families

To teach a child with autism, it is imperative to know about the use of positive reinforcement to build skills, and the use of reinforcement schedules to maintain skills.

The beauty of the TAGteach method is that it takes this body of scientific knowledge and simplifies the teaching protocols to the point where non-experts can implement them, including grieving, overwhelmed, exhausted autism parents. TAGteach gives parents a way to put their keen observational skills to good use and help their children learn functional skills. Everyone wins.

TAGteach has great potential to help autism professionals

There is so much potential to teach so many things with this beautiful method. TAGteach can be a wonderful complement to ABA and VB programs: every time the child makes the desired response, tag and reinforce. The accuracy and clarity of reinforcement can speed up the learning process.

TAGteach is outstanding for working in the natural environment. As the child walks around, it is easy to mark and reinforce even the tiniest muscle flinch of touch, play, eye contact or vocalization behaviors.

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementFor teaching social skills, there is tremendous potential, especially with the “peer tagging” approach. In peer tagging, each participant in a small group is given taggers to mark and reinforce the target behaviors of that particular session.  As they observe and reinforce each other for the desired behaviors, they learn them faster, and have a good time doing it.

I could go on, but will stop here. I hope you share my vision of how TAGteach can help children, parents, instructors, aides and professionals in the autism community.

There are so many creative applications possible, I’ve listed only a few here. We are limited only by our imaginations, so let’s unleash them and get going!

More Information About TAGteach

TAGteach stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. TAGteach is a teaching and communication method based on the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

TAGteach enables extremely precise positive reinforcement of behavior by using an acoustical signal to “mark” the behavior – at the precise moment the child performs the behavior! The acoustical signal is a short, sharp sound made by a handheld device (the “tagger”). When the child performs the correct action, the parent/instructor immediately presses the button on the tagger and hands over a treat (candy, treat, token, praise, social recognition, or money) as a reinforcer.

With TAGteach, it is easy to reinforce behaviors precisely and quickly. The immediate, accurate feedback and positive reinforcement result in the child performing the correct action more often, and for longer periods of time. With immediate feedback and learning tasks broken down into small steps, children (and adults) can learn many new skills with TAGteach — at their own pace.

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementTAGteach International website.

TAGteach taggers available here.

Book by Martha Gabler about TAGteach for Autism.

More information, ask here.

Martha Gabler’s Mailing list sign-up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Got Autism? Need food? Here’s how you can teach your child to go to the grocery store. 

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

Check out this list of stressors for a kid with autism:

  • Bright lights pulsating overhead.
  • Tinny music.
  • People, kids and carts milling around.
  • Water sprayers misting the vegetables.
  • And my pet peeve: the coupon dispensers with their blinking red lights waving coupons at eye level.

Think this is stressing for a kid with autism?  Think this is a challenging environment for an autism parent to manage while also trying to shop for food?

Well, you’re right. The prospect of taking a kid with autism through the grocery store can bring people to tears or to their knees. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Food is Health, Family History and Culture

Every family needs to go to the grocery story, and it should be happy experience. The grocery store is an important learning environment!  Families talk about healthy foods, or explain what Grandma needs to make her famous holiday recipe. Family lore and culture is passed on via food. All kids deserve this experience, including kids with autism.

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Tick, tock, tag: autism, teaching and time

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcementTime is precious.

Time passes.

Time lost can never be recovered.

As autism parents, we are excruciatingly aware of time.

How helpful it would be if we could teach our children more efficiently, so that they could learn more skills in a shorter time. I’d like to tell you about Teaching with Acoustical Guidance, or TAGteach, an ABA-based method for increasing productive skills, and how it can help you teach a child more quickly and effectively.

Delayed Integration of Sights and Sounds in Autism

Children with autism often process sounds and sights, not simultaneously, but with a slight delay. When watching and listening to an instructor, the child with autism will see the lips and arms moving faster and will process the words more slowly. The child sees more action in less time and needs more time to decipher spoken words. It’s easy to see how this sensory and time disconnect would be a stressor for the child. It could result in speech problems, learning problems, frustration, and behavior problems.

So, how do you teach a child who is not experiencing his environment in the same time frame as we do? How do you make allowances? How do you provide effective supports to overcome this disconnect? I believe that TAGteach is a solution. The clear acoustical signal gets around the problems of sensory processing disconnect by providing precise, instantaneous reinforcement — in place of slower, traditional verbal reinforcement. The tag encourages the child to stay focused on what she is doing. No interruptions, no confusion, better learning!

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement, Applied Behavior Analysis

How TAGteach helps children with autism learn

TAGteach enables extremely precise positive reinforcement of behavior by using an acoustical signal to “mark” the behavior – at the exact time the child performs the behavior! The acoustical signal is a short, sharp sound made by a handheld device (the “tagger”). When the child performs the correct action, the parent/instructor immediately presses the button on the tagger and hands over a treat (candy, treat, token, praise, social recognition, or money) as a reinforcer.

With TAGteach, it is easy to reinforce behaviors precisely, quickly and exactly on time. The immediate, accurate feedback and positive reinforcement result in the child performing the correct action more often, and for longer periods of time. With immediate feedback and learning tasks broken down into small steps, children (and adults) can learn many new skills with TAGteach — at their own pace.

A sound is better than verbal praise? Why?

Many people are still learning about the benefits of using a consistent sound, the “tag,” to mark a behavior. This is new to the mainstream, and often people wonder why a verbal comment like, “Good job” or “Yes, you’re right” isn’t as effective. Karen Pryor, internationally renowned author, and a pioneer in the development of force-free training methods, has a beautiful description of why an audible sound is much better at “marking” a behavior than our spoken words:

“…please note that the human voice is a very poor marker signal… too long, too slow, too variable, carrying too many confounding messages (your sex, your age, your mood, your health, etc.) and it also almost always late. Furthermore, you can’t distinguish when you are a mini-second late with your voice, but you CAN tell at once, without experience, when your click is late. (Karen Pryor, Penn State Listserve System, Standard Celeration Society, 18 May 2005.)

The tag delivers one message — success — without burdening the child with our slow words and personal emotional issues. Best of all — the the tag delivering this message on time!

To sum up, TAGteach lets you deliver reinforcement on time, so you can build skills more effectively. Time is a precious commodity in the life of a child with autism. We need to use our time wisely to teach a child as many skills as possible in the shortest amount of time.

 

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

TAGteach is easy to learn and easy to do. It is effective and low cost. It is a boon to families who need to teach their children the skills needed for everyday life. TAGteach gives parents an accessible, scientific way to teach new behaviors, rather than constantly managing or struggling with difficult and sometimes even dangerous behaviors. I recommend it to all parents for their consideration.

First published at the Behavior Station Guest Blog: The Behavior Station’s mission is to stay on track with ethical and professional standards of behavior analysis while transporting resources and mapping out science-based information as a means of guiding one to the best-supported platform on their life journey, regardless of the final destination.

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

For more information visit the TAGteach website.

Join the free TAGteach Yahoo Group.

TAGteach taggers are available here.

See Martha’s book about TAGteach for Autism or feel free to ask me a question (with no obligation).

Sign up for my mailing list to receive updates, new articles and free tips right in your inbox!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAGteach stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. TAGteach is a teaching and communication method based on the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

 

TAGteach enables extremely precise positive reinforcement of behavior by using an acoustical signal to “mark” the behavior – at the precise moment the child performs the behavior! The acoustical signal is a short, sharp sound made by a handheld device (the “tagger”). When the child performs the correct action, the parent/instructor immediately presses the button on the tagger and hands over a treat (candy, treat, token, praise, social recognition, or money) as a reinforcer.

 

With TAGteach, it is easy to reinforce behaviors precisely and quickly. The immediate, accurate feedback and positive reinforcement result in the child performing the correct action more often, and for longer periods of time. With immediate feedback and learning tasks broken down into small steps, children (and adults) can learn many new skills with TAGteach — at their own pace.

 

For example, an instructor is teaching a child to follow directions and says, “Pick up the crayon.” If the child picks up the crayon, she is correct. If she picks up a pencil or eraser, or walks away, she made an incorrect response.  With TAGteach, the instant her hand hovered over the crayon, the instructor would

 

 

 

“We have no time to stand and stare.”  W.H. Davies, Welsh poet.

 

“… my time has been properly spent.”  Ann and Jane Taylor, English writers. 1806.

 

“Time is fleeting.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. American poet. 1838.

 

There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.  Anonymous.

 

 

Tick, tock, tag!  Autism, teaching and time.

 

 

Articles:  Simple Movement:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130508131829.htm

 

Sights and Sounds out-of-sync: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/15/children-with-autism-sights-and-sounds-out-of-sync_n_4604231.html

 

Time Perception Different in Autism:  http://autism.lovetoknow.com/Time_Perception_in_Autism_Spectrum_Disorder

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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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