Peer-reviewed study published on TAGteach and autism

autism journal coverAngela Persicke, Marianne Jackson, Amanda N. Adams. 2013. Brief Report: An Evaluation of TAGteach Components to Decrease Toe-Walking in a 4-Year-Old Child with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Sept 2013.

Abstract

The current study evaluated the effectiveness of using a modified TAGteach™ procedure and correction to decrease toe-walking in a 4-year-old boy with autism. Two conditions were analyzed: correction alone and correction with an audible conditioned reinforcing stimulus. Correction alone produced minimal and inconsistent decreases in toe-walking but correction with an audible conditioned stimulus proved most effective in reducing this behavior. This has implications for decreasing toe-walking in other children with autism and may be easily used by teachers and parents.

Click here for more info (choose – “look inside” to see the 1st two pages)

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).

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!

What is your child’s balance of failure and success?

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcementDelivering success is critically important when working with a child with autism.

Success is great; we all enjoy it and we feel happy.

Failure is bad; nobody likes it and we get upset if we have too much of it.

For a child with autism, heavy doses of failure can lead to difficult behaviors, even to aggression and anger.

Difficult behaviors

When a child with autism starts biting, hitting or pinching family members, it is a devastating experience for everyone involved (including the child with autism). Sometimes a child who has been doing okay may turn, almost overnight, into an aggressive, physically violent kid.

Most of us are untrained and unprepared for dealing with these behaviors. What do you do? What I learned over time is to watch carefully that balance of success and failure. Too much failure – bad behavior. Lots of success – great behavior.

Phrases that Help

Some years ago I encountered some phrases that help me when I have a problem with my child. They are:

“Difficult behaviors result from unmet needs,”

and

“Behavior is information.”

I learned that when my child has a lot of difficult behaviors, he is informing me that he has a lot of unmet needs. He cannot communicate the specifics of what is bothering him, the problems continue, and, as a result, he lashes out. The balance was tilted towards failure.

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Martha’s Rules for Effective TAGteaching

Here are the rules that I made for myself to make sure that my teaching was most effective. If a child is frustrated, bored or upset he cannot possibly learn optimally. If a child gets frustrated and angry to the point of a meltdown, then he can’t learn, period. Doing everything I can to make sure that my child will have many successes and be a co-operative and happy learner is my top priority during a teaching session.

Douglas goes to camp: TAGteach magic in action

Smiling teenage boy on swingsteenage boy smiling, wearing blue life jacketBy Joan Orr, MSc

Doug is the subject of the book Chaos to Calm: Discovering Solutions to the Everyday Problems of Living with Autism, by Martha Gabler. Martha explains step-by-step in the book how she methodically taught Doug many simple and then more and more complex behaviors necessary for life in a busy family. She used TAGteach, an approach based on the science of behavior, to teach new behaviors to replace screaming, running around, self injury and other chaotic behaviors with which many autism parents struggle on a continual basis. All Martha’s teaching used positive reinforcement to strengthen desired behaviors. Now Doug is 17 and his self-stimulatory behaviors are almost non-existent. He chooses to exhibit behaviors that he has learned and that have become more reinforcing for him than the chaotic and sometimes violent behaviors in which he engaged during what Martha refers to as “the dreadful early years”. Doug at 17 is happy, affectionate and cooperative. He loves his math and reading lessons and he loves outdoor activities.

This summer Doug went to Shadow Lake Camp for a week and his counselor was my daughter Anne Wormald who is a level 2 TAGteacher. Martha came prepared with a tagger and some treats that Doug likes and left him in Anne’s capable hands. Anne had read Chaos to Calm, so she knew many of Doug’s tag points. The other staff at camp looked after Doug while Anne was on break and they too learned to use TAGteach with Doug. He had the whole camp trained by the end of the week!

Here is what one of the other counselors said about Doug:

“He’s so cute and well-behaved! When you first gave me the tagger I was kind of unsure, but once you told me about how he was before and I used it, it became obvious that it really works. I really want to read the book!”

Doug’s experience at camp is a testament to the power and effectiveness of TAGteach and the skill of Martha as a teacher. Martha was able to hand over her son, a tagger, some treats and some basic tag points and he was able to enjoy himself immensely at sleep away camp for a week with strangers.

Anne kept in touch with me by text during the week with Doug. Here is a transcript of those messages:

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Out with the rules, in with the tag points!

Rules list

By Gwen Hunter

I recently convinced staff at a new program for families with children who present with a gamut of behavioral challenges (ADHD, OD, autism spectrum, etc.) to try TAGteach. After a few telephone conversations they invited me to come and observe their most challenging class of 6 kids. Wow, it was chaotic and, frankly, dangerous. The following week I met with staff after school for a couple of hours, passed out info on TAGteach. They were excited. This class was the following day so I asked them to make a list of the behaviors they didn’t like below each student’s name. Then we went over each item, added an = sign next to each, and came up with behaviors they’d like instead (What a helpful tool this is! Thanks for teaching it.) These became tag points. I gave them taggers and we decided on tictacs for primary reinforcers. They then split up the kids so that each of us would have two to tag. I was really nervous about this as in the past I’d only tagged when working one-on-one with a student plus I didn’t know these kids, but we decided to approach this as a learning experience – which it certainly was!

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TAGteach: How learning to tag has changed my life

From istockphoto
From istockphoto

By Katie Scott-Dyer

Reprinted with permission from: http://blog.verypets.co.uk/

A bold statement but true nonetheless. I recently attended a 2 day TAGteach Primary Certification seminar in Bristol UK and it has revolutionized my thinking and strategies for coaching my own learners. Why? Because it cuts out all the blurry stuff, all the fluff and fuzz that can easily lose the learner in the fog of information.

Clear goals in teaching

This means that learners can have a clear goal or tag point, which is marked with an audible distinct sound such as the word tag or a clicker. This can be applied to any learner, be it human or animal. The instructions are finely sliced, the tag point is delivered in 5 words or less and gives immediate feedback of success to the learner at every tag point stage. It’s clear and simple learning with positive reinforcement, which can be tracked with a tagulator (beads on a string) that can be collected for a primary reinforcer or just the immediate success acts as a reinforcer for the learner. The science geeks among us know this as operant conditioning. OK so why the hooha about it changing my life?

On the spectrum

I am on the Autism Spectrum. I’m both high and low functioning but have achieved a level of integration in ‘normal’ or neurotypical society because of my higher functioning attributes. It has been a difficult path to walk alone though.

If TAGteach had been around when I was a kid I may have a had an even more successful, less frustrating, anxiety ridden childhood and been a higher achiever than I currently am.

Plus I can still find it difficult to communicate clearly and effectively, even on relatively high functioning days. In class you can imagine the confusion which can arise from not delivering instructions efficiently to the learner. TAGteach will now be incorporated into my classes and has already been adapted into my coaching with measurable success. Having a tag point, clear determined goal which the learner can self select to personalise and even tag the teacher and each other is very empowering, makes the learning environment cooperative and progressive which can only be a good thing, right!

Thanks TAGteach!

My gratitude to my TAGteach coach Theresa McKeon BA is infinte and I will always be indebted to the seminar organiser Sara Roberts KPA-CTP. Thank you ladies, my life will never be the same again! And being in the same room as some of the best animal and people trainers was inspiring too.

Learning never stops, I have a brain which mostly works but needs steering in the right direction at times so my aim is achieve Level 1 TAGteach certification. I had better crack on and get some TAGteach experience under my belt…

Here’s a link to the TAGteach International website, so you can see for yourself what I’m blathering on about:http://www.tagteach.com/

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).

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!

 

Parent tips: From total meltdowns to mild non-compliance: It’s all a challenge!

child having tantrum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Diana Wolf, MA, BCBA, and Nick Chappell, MS, BCBA, Verbal Beginnings

Guest post reprinted with permission from  pathfindersforautism.org/resources/articles

Have you ever been in a situation where no matter how many times you’ve told him to clean his room, he doesn’t listen? You have to repeat yourself so many times you eventually get tired of hearing yourself talk. Or are you stuck in the house and have to wait until someone stays with your child so you can get some grocery shopping done? You know that a trip to the grocery store with him will mean a public embarrassment to you, as he grabs everything in sight and throws a tantrum if he doesn’t get what he wants.
No matter how intense or mild the challenging behavior, it’s a challenge to make it go away. However, with the help of a professional and the steps below, it’s not an impossible task to accomplish.

Step 1: Identify the challenging behavior

A challenging behavior is anything that someone does that significantly interferes with his or her daily routine. It is also an action that may pose harm to self or others. To identify the behavior pinpoint specifically what it is that makes a routine difficult.  Do you stay home because going out in the community causes tantrums? Are you afraid of aggressive behavior when you end a fun activity? Once you identify the problem, it’s time to find out why it’s happening.

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Podcast with Martha Gabler: Effective communication for autism families

Martha Gabler is the author of the book: Chaos to Calm: Discovering Solutions to the Everyday Problems of Living with Autism.

Listen to this podcast, in which Martha answers these questions about an effective communication method that families living with autism can use.

  1. What are some of the everyday problems of living with autism?
  2. What is the TAGteach method of communication?
  3. What is a common issue that autism families face that can be addressed with the TAGteach method?
  4. How does TAGteach help with this problem?
  5. What advice do you have for other families out there that may be dealing with some of the same things you had to? 

Martha Gabler’s book, Chaos to Calm, Discovering Solutions to the Everyday Problems of Living With Autism, is available now in print and Kindle formats.

You can connect with Martha at her blog AutismChaosToCalm.com or at her Facebook page.

This podcast is presented by the National PR Firm, Annie Jennings PR.  Annie is the Creator of JenningsWire, an online magazine that features a diverse community of talented bloggers.

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).

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!

Direct Instruction: It even works for kids with autism

happy studentSeptember 19, 2013

I sent this letter to the Commissioners of a Review Committee within a State Board of Education. The Commissioners were considering whether to approve a set of Direct Instruction curricula for use by school districts within the state. Please note that Direct Instruction curricula align with the new Common Core Standards.

What is Direct Instruction?

For those who may not be familiar with Direct Instruction (DI): this is a body of academic curricula for teaching reading, writing, math, spelling, language and language to students in grades K-8. What makes Direct Instruction unique is that it is based on scientific principles of human learning, the same principles that we see in ABA programs; these principles include use of positive reinforcement, shaping, cues, signals, prompting, and fading. But there is more.  According to the Association for Direct Instruction:

“(T)he real power of a DI program comes from the careful analysis of each skill taught. The skill is broken down into its component parts, then each component skill is taught to mastery. Afterward, the skills are combined into a larger context where different skills are utilized across settings, resulting in generalized fluency.” (See http://www.adihome.org/di-programs/faq-moofaq)

Direct Instruction programs are designed for typically developing children. However, I found them to be so powerful that I was able to use them to teach my severely autistic and profoundly nonverbal son. He learned reading, math, spelling and language with these programs.

The Letter

Dear Commission Members;

The purpose of this email is to ask respectfully for your support for including Direct Instruction curricula for use within the state.

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What is ABA and why is it so important for autism?

autism, tagteach, aba, positive reinforcementDid you start hearing a lot about ABA when you first got started with your child?

Did you think, “What on earth is ABA and why is everybody talking about it?”

If you’ve ever wondered what’s the big deal with ABA, here are some facts.

ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis.

ABA is widely acknowledged to be the most effective way to teach skills and manage behaviors in children with autism.

Why? It is based on decades of scientific experiment and verification.

ABA is a science

Applied Behavior Analysis is a science, just like biology, chemistry or physics. Scientists in this field use the scientific method to explore questions about behavior and learning. Remember the scientific method from high school science classes? Here are steps:

  1. observation of phenomena
  2. development of a hypothesis explaining these phenomena
  3. experiments to test the hypothesis
  4. collection of data from the experiments
  5. analysis of data
  6. development of a conclusion.

autism, tagteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

This process is replicated to refine and validate the results. When the process is completed, if the results meet certain criteria (the results are stable, they last over time, they can be replicated), the scientific method results in the discovery of new scientific “laws.”

The good thing about these “laws” is that we know they are valid. They are real. And they work. (more…)