You’ve done so many things to help your child with autism. Are you ready to do TAGteach?

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

You can teach your child

If you are an autism parent, you probably want to help your kid learn new skills.

If you want to help your kid learn new skills, you may not be aware of the “acoustical” support.

You may not be aware that the acoustical support is a great way to help kids with autism learn, even the severe kids, the nonverbal kids and the super-sensory kids.

And guess what else? It’s easy, effective and low-cost — a rare combination in the autism world.

So what exactly is an acoustical support?

An acoustical support is a neutral sound: a tap, click or ping. The sound is communication. The sound tells a child that she has done something right–at the precise moment she does it! The sound tells her, “YES, you did it, and now you are getting a reward.” The sound gives her success and makes her feel good. The sound makes her want to do that great thing again.

Here’s an example: increasing play skills

Let’s say your child has just touched a toy. Since many kids with autism don’t play with toys,  we want them to learn how. Now your child has just touched a toy. That’s great! That’s the first step. With your handy TAGteach tagger, immediately press it to “tag” her action of touching the toy. Right after that, hand over a reinforcer (something she really likes).

Guess what? She’ll figure out very quickly that she got attention, success and a very nice treat from Mom when she touched the toy. And then guess what? She’ll try touching again. Maybe she’ll touch another toy, or touch the toy for a longer period of time. You’re on your way to expanding her play skills.


Read More

Got autism? Got tantrums? Here’s what you can do to help your child.

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

It’s happening again

Another tantrum

Your beautiful child with autism erupted into a tantrum.

You don’t know why. It’s the second or third tantrum of the day.

You want to help. You wish you could do something to calm him down.

What can you do? Here’s a way to calm down your child in less than half an hour that won’t drain you of your energy. I’ll explain what to do, then tell you why this works.

Here’s what to do in the first 5 minutes

Gather your materials

  1. Find something in your house that makes a quick, sharp click sound: a ballpoint pen, a flashlight, or if need be, a spoon that you can tap on the wall or a table.
  2. Get some treats that your child likes: very small pieces of candy, pretzel pieces, cereal pieces, tic-tacs, or anything similar. Put them into a small container that you can hold in your hand


Read More

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.


Read More

Got autism? Want to know why on earth your kid is doing that?

Autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

Do you watch your child with autism and think:

What on earth is that kid doing now?

Why on earth is he doing that?

What brought that about?

You’re not alone.

Probably this question pops up dozens of times a day. When my son was little, I would think about what happened earlier in the day, whether he was upset about something that happened yesterday, or if he was bored or something else.

I tried to figure out reasons for his behavior by looking at what happened BEFORE the behavior.

I had it all wrong

In the early years I didn’t know enough about behavioral science. I had heard that ABA was the recommended treatment for autism, and I thought positive reinforcement was a nice idea, but I didn’t understand the most important thing.

It’s not what happens BEFORE the behavior, it’s what happens AFTER.

Why is he doing that? Because of the Consequence!

The most important fact to know about behavioral science is that CONSEQUENCE of an action is the thing to think about. The CONSEQUENCE of an action determines whether that behavior will happen again — or not. If the CONSEQUENCE is pleasant, the behavior will occur again. We all do many things every day. The actions that result in nice, pleasing consequences are what we will do again. This is how all living things respond to their environments.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. How else can we decide if something is safe, pleasing or worthwhile? We know because of the consequence.  Touch the hot stove, and you’ll be careful near the stove in the future. Open the refrigerator door, see some nice food and you’ll open it again. If the food in the refrigerator is always old and rotten, you will stop looking there for food.


Read More

Got autism? Want your kid 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 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 he makes with legs and feet.


Read More

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

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcementAs 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. 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.


Read More

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

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementCheck 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.


Read More

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

autism help, tagteach, ABA, applied behavior analysisA 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.


Read More

Got autism? Want to help your child learn to handle buttons, zippers and cutlery?

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

Dressing, eating, playing, writing.

Like everyone else, our kids with autism need to develop these skills.

How can you help your child increase the strength and dexterity of her hands and fingers?

Fine motor exercises will do the job, but sometimes it’s difficult for our kids with autism to do them. Here is an expert article on fine motor skills and some practical suggestions for doing them with kids with autism.

8 Activities to Help Young Children Develop Fine Motor Skills

This article by Erica Patino, of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, has proven ideas for hands-on activities to increase fine motor skills. While some of our kids with autism may be able to do these activities, others may not due to sensory or attention issues. Let’s see how to tackle these problems with the always useful and flexible TAGteach approach.


Read More

An autism mom’s mantra


guidelines for autism moms

TAGteach delivers the right “balance”

TAGteach has 4 protocols for giving children success (appropriate demands and high reinforcement) right away.

  1. Teaching always starts at the “point of success,” something the child can already do.
  2. Tasks are broken down into the smallest possible physical movements that the child can achieve.
  3. TAGteach delivers precise, split-second reinforcement at the moment the child performs the task
  4. Teaching stops before the child becomes fatigued.


Read More