I felt nervous. But, before I took the first step I had already done the following: read about TAGteach, purchased a clicker and prepared a handful of candy treats. From an intellectual standpoint, I understood that marking and reinforcing a behavior would work in increasing that behavior. From a personal standpoint, I wasn’t sure how this was all going to work with my child in my living room.
The first morning I had my clicker and treats and came downstairs, my son started to tantrum, for no apparent reason. With the clicker in my hand, I had to think about what to do. I knew I should not try to cajole him out of the tantrum. I knew I had to find something positive to mark and reinforce. But what? So, I watched him. Within a minute or two I realized the obvious: he was jumping and running around and screaming. What did I want? It flashed into my mind: Quiet Mouth and Still Feet.
My First Trial with TAGteach
I had the clicker. I had the treats. I had a big tantrum going on. We had an appointment in half-an-hour, so I had to take action. I watched my son. Every split second that his mouth was quiet or both his feet were on the floor, I clicked and handed him a treat. He was startled, to say the least. Within what seemed like ages, but was only twelve minutes, he was sitting quietly with a completely shocked look on his face, as if to say “how on earth did this happen?” He was fine. He was calm and quiet. We went happily off to our appointment.
An Amazing Outcome
I was stunned and exhilarated. I couldn’t believe that a big tantrum had been defused so quickly and with so little effort on my part (I never said or word or raised my voice). I couldn’t believe how empowered I felt. Just one day before, if he had flown into such a tantrum, I would have felt overwhelmed, helpless, despairing, and upset. Now the situation was completely turned around. I realized I could confront these difficult behaviors and deal with them with ease. With ease? What an amazing concept for an autism parent! To think that you can face down a tantrum, a blow-up, a meltdown with just a clicker and a handful of treats and handle it effectively and calmly. This revelation stayed with me for the rest of the day, and eventually changed our lives.
What 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” 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, quickly, and intensively. 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.
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