I want to use the clicker, but can’t get started. Part 3

boy jumping looking excitedA reader posed this question. “What was your first move with your son after you’d learned some concepts and methods? How would you advise families?

Think about behaviors you would like to see

After learning about concepts and methods, the next step was figuring out what behaviors I wanted. For autism parents, that is an amazing concept, to think that you can work on behaviors you would like to see in your child. There are two ways to go about TAGteach: with a specific behavior goal in mind, or general marking and reinforcing of any behaviors you like.

What family activities are stressful with your child?

I spent a lot of time in the beginning using TAGteach to reinforce and build Quiet Mouth behavior. I was also desperate to get out of the house and go for a walk in the neighborhood. Going anywhere with my son required extreme vigilance to make sure he didn’t dart into the street or into oncoming traffic. Going to the grocery story was also a stressful event that required lots of vigilance. Waiting in the line at the store was equally difficult. So my next projects were teaching Nice Walking, Going to the Grocery Story, and Waiting In Line. I worked on these behaviors because I wanted to get out, go for a walk and buy food without all the stress and trauma we usually experienced.

Set a goal and break it down into parts your child can do

I would advise families to think about what is going on in their lives and what behaviors they would like to see in their children. Each family has a different situation and different needs. My child happened to be an extremely active, physically quick type of child, always moving, always doing. My overall goal was to calm him down and slow him down. Another family might have a very quiet, withdrawn child whom they would like to draw out. Another family will have yet another set of issues to deal with.

Think of what you would like your child to do. Would you like your child to slow down or speed up? Would you like your child to look at you, sit at the table to eat, or walk next to you when you go outside? Think of the final desired result, then break that behavior down into small parts. Observe your child and see whether he can perform any of the parts of that behavior. Mark and reinforce your child every time he performs any part of the desired behavior. For example, if you want a child to sit at the table to eat, mark and reinforce him anytime he walks within eight feet of the chair (for example). Then mark and reinforce him whenever he walks within six feet of the chair, then four feet, then two feet. When he is hovering near the chair, have a plate ready and see if he sits on the chair. If he sits on the chair, immediately click and set down the plate with a small treat. Continue marking him every two or three seconds that he remains on the chair and continue placing small treats on the plate. If he doesn’t sit on the chair, continue marking and reinforcing him for being near the chair. Eventually, he will sit on the chair. Continue working with this behavior, and he will learn to sit on a chair at the table to eat.

Families can also make progress without a specific training goal. Simply watching your child and marking and reinforcing any behaviors that you like yields benefits. Your child stands still, mark and reinforce. Your child looks at you, mark and reinforce. Your child points to a cookie jar, mark and reinforce (with a piece of cookie). With TAGteach, whether you set up a specific training plan or casually mark and reinforce during the course of the day, you will be delivering success to your child and building a positive, nurturing environment.

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.

autism, ABA, positive reinforcementFor 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).

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Martha Gabler

Autism parent. Director, Kids' Learning Workshop LLC. Author of Chaos to Calm: Discovering Solutions to the Everyday Problems of Living with Autism.

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