The difficult car trip: Some suggestions for addressing a common problem for autism parents

four kids in a car in bright clothes with seat belts on, smiling and happy

Recently, a person sent a query asking what to do about a child who has severe anxiety when riding in the car.

Good car behavior is critical for the well-being of the family. It is worth the time and effort to teach the child how to behave properly in the car and to feel calm and happy when riding in the car. TAGteach is an excellent and easy way to build these skills in small increments. With TAGteach, you “tag” a desired behavior of the child with an event marker signal (often a clicker) 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.

First small step: show that the car is not harmful

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 he looks at or walks near the car. Here are some potential movements to tag: Child walks next to car, Tag and Reinforce. Child stands next to car, Tag and Reinforce. Child touches or opens car door, Tag and Reinforce. Child walks to another door, Tag and Reinforce. Child touches or opens another door, Tag and Reinforce. Child glances inside car, Tag and Reinforce. Give the child as much time as he 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.

Second small step: child gets into car

Once the child is comfortable around the exterior of the car, work on making the child comfortable in the interior. Bring the child to the car and open the doors. Place toys and some lollipops on the seats. Wait to see if the child goes into the car. Tag and reinforce all physical movements related to getting into the car: potential tag points are Hand On Car, Foot On Car Step, Head Poking In Car, Climbing Into Car. Let the child explore at his own pace; refrain from urging him to go into the car. Let him take his time.

When it finally happens and the child gets in the car, tag and reinforce! This should earn a huge reinforcer! Keep practicing Child Gets In Car until he is comfortable. Continue observing the child and tag and reinforce every time he sits on the seat; this would earn another huge reinforcer! Keep practicing Child Sits In Seat and tag and reinforce the child every time he does it. Offer toys or activity items to the child and tag and reinforce every time he touches an item; the tag point would be Touch Toy.

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Will I be treating my child like a dog if I use TAGteach?

dogsThis is a fair question. On the surface, Teaching with Acoustical Guidance (TAGteach), a method where you use an audible event marker signal (a click) and a reinforcer to teach a human a behavior, sounds very similar to the popular and effective clicker training method used with dogs, dolphins, killer whales and other animals. From a scientific and technical standpoint, the methods are similar.

Both methods are based on the scientific, research-validated fact that a behavior that is reinforced will occur more often. TAGteach has been used successfully in many teaching and training applications with humans, including elite level gymnastics, orthopedic surgeons, fishing boats in the Bering Sea, speech therapy, professional golf instruction, main stream classrooms and special education classrooms, among others. Turns out, TAGteach is also a wonderful way to teach kids with autism.

The TAGteach work with orthopedic surgeons was featured in the Scientific American blog and published in a major orthopedic surgery journal. In other published studies TAGteach was found to be effective for teaching adult golf, high school football players and children with autism.

TAGteach is recommended by many leading experts as an effective and science-based approach for teaching children with autism. TAGteach research results have been presented at the Association for Behavior Analysis conferences 48 times between 2004-2016.

Typical kids

Parents of typically developing children can teach their children with verbal instructions and modeling:  “Put your socks on first, then your shoes,” “This is how you slice a sandwich.”  These children watch, listen, copy and learn. They understand language, they speak, and they respond to verbal praise. It’s wonderful and magical to see how much they can learn at an early age.

Kids with autism

Our kids with autism are different. They have language, communication, and sensory problems, to name a few. Even those children who can speak, often do not comprehend instructions, or they cannot respond appropriately to the instructions. (more…)

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

got-autism-screaming

Originally posted Dec 15, 2014. Updated Jan 9, 2017

Screaming, loud noises, verbal stimming

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

They never seem to stop.

They drive us to distraction.

They can destroy the peace and quiet of the family. Sometimes they can destroy the family itself.

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…)

We Special Needs Parents can sail our own ship and weather the storms

 

Special Needs Parents

by Sean Pogson

From a parent with a 4-year old little girl with a complex genetic condition that not much is known about: TAGteach has been the only thing that has made a real positive difference to my daughter’s progress.

The Struggle

Before we first started using TAGteach we struggled even to get our daughter to engage with us. We were not seeing much progress in our daughter’s development. We felt at a loss, and our beautiful little girl seemed lost to us. We struggled to reach her. No matter how hard we tried, our daughter couldn’t even cope with a cuddle or give eye contact. So we struggled to be able to teach her anything.

The Change

Autism parent help TAGteach eye contactThen we discovered TAGteach and slowly and surely things started to change. We learned how to prepare our daughter for blood tests and medical tests. We learned to teach her to feed herself. We taught her to give eye contact.

We learned how to help her take control whilst having meltdowns. We watched in total awe as our screaming, frustrated little girl’s tears turned into laughs and giggles. We learned to help her cope with sensory processing issues. We learned to teach her to enjoy a swing. We learned to teach her to pull-to-stand (pull up to a standing position), and we taught her to get up and down the stairs with assistance.

Our Journey

There are a great many things that our daughter and we have learned via the aid of TAGteach and this wonderful science of helping. We are very much still novices and there is much we still have to learn, but the one thing we have learned, more than anything else, is that we can learn. And no matter what is thrown at us, we can learn to sail our own ship and weather the storms.

We have learned TAGteach is the unrivaled champion of our household, and all this we learned from Martha Gabler’s website, Chaos to Calm, the TAGteach International website, and the webinar series for autism parents.

You don’t have to take my word for it. In fact, I would suggest you try it and see for yourself. I suspect you will not be disappointed. Our family certainly isn’t, especially our once non-verbal little girl, whose favorite phrase at the moment is, “Look what I can do.”

A message from Martha Gabler

 

TAGteach Free Video Series

Newly released video series available, free, on TAGteach:  Three Steps Any Autism Parent Can Take to go From Tears and Frustration to Family Happiness

 

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What is TAGteach?autism parent help 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.

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!

If you liked this post, please share it. Thank you!

 

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.
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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 steps I used to teach my son to read:

  1. Make sure foundation skills are in place
  2. Use Direct Instruction reading programs
  3. Provide lots of supports and lots of opportunities to practice
  4. Use TAGteach to deliver precise, in-the-moment positive reinforcement for correct responses.

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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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 store, 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

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. TAGteach (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) made this possible. 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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