Interview with a TAGteacher – Joey Iversen – Special Needs Tennis

Interview with a TAGteacher Joey


Have you wondered how to apply TAGteach in a group sports setting with special needs kids? Will it be too noisy for the learner to hear the tags? Will the learner be too distracted by everything else going on the room? How do you handle the reinforcers? Can you use TAGteach to manage behavior and social issues? Do coaches really think that kids taught with TAGteach learn better? Listen to this month’s interview with a TAGteacher and watch the accompanying videos to get answers to these and more questions.

This month, Martha Gabler interviewed TAGteacher Joey Iversen (in red shirt above). Joey is a Level 2 TAGteacher with extensive experience from both ends of the tagger. Joey has trained several tennis coaches to use TAGteach during her own lessons because she wants to learn in the most efficient way possible. Joey has also been working with a special needs tennis program and successfully integrated TAGteach into the teaching protocols.

Martha had questions for Joey on the following topics:

  • How did you get started with TAGteach?
  • What was the one feature that really “pulled” you in?
  • Where did you first start using TAGteach?
  • Tell us about TAGteach and tennis for special needs kids
  • How did the coaches react?
  • What were their positive comments?
  • Where there any negative reactions?

Joey referred to a couple of videos and these are shown lower down in this post so that you can watch them after you listen to the interview.


Video #1

This video shows a tennis lesson in which the tag point is “step forward”. The player is focusing on stepping forward with her right foot after hitting the ball.

Video #2

This video shows a group tennis lesson. Three players are hitting the ball and the other three are tagging. This means that everyone is participating, focusing on one thing and learning, even when it’s not their turn to play.

As part of our online course: TAGteach for Autism, we are holding monthly live Q&A sessions with author and mother of a child with autism, Martha Gabler.  A feature of these Q&A sessions is an interview with a TAGteacher. We will be posting the interview section in our blog each month for you to view for free. The full Q&A session will be available for purchase.


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Ten important things to build a strong relationship with your child’s support team

10 tips

Your special needs child will do best with a strong team of professionals and parents working together. You are the expert when it comes to your child. The professionals working with your child will have more success when you work to support a relationship with them. Here are 10 tips from Bethan Mair Williams to help you get the most for your child through a successful relationship with your support team. Bethan is a Speech Language Therapist/Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with more than twenty years of experience in working with children with special needs, training and supervising classroom staff, and developing data collection and interpretation systems.

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Interview with a TAGteacher – Anne Wormald – TAGteach in the Autism Classroom

Interview with a TAGteacher

Have you wondered how to apply TAGteach in a classroom setting? Will it be too noisy for the learner to hear the tags? Will the learner be too distracted by everything else going on the room? Will you need to give too many food reinforcers? Can you use TAGteach to manage aggressive and dangerous behaviors? Is it OK to let the child use the tagger and be the teacher? Listen to this month’s interview with a TAGteacher and watch the accompanying videos to get answers to these and more questions.

This month’s interview is with Anne Wormald. Anne is one of the first TAGteachers and has extensive experience from both ends of the tagger, being the daughter of Joan Orr, one of the TAGteach cofounders. Anne is working on her BCBA and is a Level 2 TAGteacher. She has many years of experience working with special needs kids and at the moment is working in home and school settings with children with autism.

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Horses, helmets and autism, oh my! How TAGteach taught a little boy to keep his helmet on during therapeutic riding

autism parent help, TAGteachThe problem

What do you do when a child with autism will not wear something that is required for safety?

This was the problem facing a therapeutic riding center with one client, an eight-year old boy with autism. The boy would not wear the safety helmet.

The rules are clear: no helmet, no horse.

Jon Luke, a determined volunteer at the center, tells how he asked for and found a solution. A boy, a horse, a happy ending. Watch this drama unfold!

The volunteer asked the TAGteach community for help

“I volunteer at an equine therapeutic riding center and am looking for some help with getting a young Hispanic boy with autism to wear a helmet. We need to have him wearing a helmet but he keeps pulling it off. Has anyone had a similar challenge and, if so, what did you do to successfully get the rider to wear the helmet?

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Alone in the woods with autism again, this time with finger-licking, face-rubbing, and, thankfully, TAGteach

Copy of Alone in the woods...


TAGteach is really a wonderful way to deal with difficult behaviors that can pop up when you least expect it.

A damaging behavior appears

Last fall I took my son out for a hike in a beautiful park with a trail around a small lake. We were having a nice time when I noticed with dismay that he was licking his fingers and rubbing his chin and neck, although there was no apparent medical problem.

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Injury! TAGteach to the rescue — for crutches and a walking cast

The Injury

TAGteach is a great tool for dealing with those “pop-up” challenges that erupt when we least expect them.

A few days ago my teenage son (non-verbal, severe autism) stumbled in the evening when going up the stairs. The next morning he was unable to put weight on his left foot, so he hopped bravely around the house on his right foot.

We made an appointment for him right away and pulled out some old crutches for him to use.

Autism parent help TAGteachFirst Problem — Crutches

Although my son has seen people use crutches, he has never used them himself. So, I had the task of immediately, on the spot, teaching him to use crutches.

Luckily, he understood right away to place them under his arms, grip the handles, and lean on them. The part that was confusing for him was swinging them forward.

Immediately, I had my tag point: Swing crutches forward. (What you want, One thing, Observable, Five words or less). I showed him how, and after a few tags he was able to swing them forward quite well.

We hobbled off to the doctor and, after an exam and x-rays, walked out, not with crutches but with a removable padded walking cast. (Luckily, nothing was broken, only sore.)

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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




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!

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Alone in the woods with autism, SIB and … thankfully TAGteach


Alone in the woods

TAGteach is a wonderful way to handle behavior challenges that pop up unexpectedly. Recently I took my 19-year-old nonverbal son with severe autism for a hike on a rugged circuit trail in a local forest preserve. My son is an experienced hiker and loves to walk long distances.

Autism parent help, ABA, TAGteachTrouble started almost immediately

For whatever reason, he started displaying SIB (Self Injurious Behavior): head hitting, knee thumping, and hand biting. It was perplexing. He was not having a tantrum. He was not having a meltdown. He was neither angry nor upset.

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TAGteach for Autism: How the Science of B.F. Skinner Helped Our Family Gain Happiness

doug martha beachArticle originally published in Operants, the newsletter of the B.F. Skinner Foundation

I am the mother of a nonverbal teenage boy with severe autism. I’d like to tell you a little bit about my family’s journey with autism, and a lot about the wonderful method known as Teaching with Acoustical Guidance (TAGteach).

I will describe how TAGteach meets the three essential conditions for effective teaching, as delineated by Dr. B.F. Skinner, why this simple method is so effective for learners with autism, and how it can be a boon for autism families and autism professionals. At the end, I hope you will be inspired to try TAGteach for yourself!

Our autism journey

I love ABA now, but came to it by chance, not choice. The day my son was diagnosed with autism was the day that the world turned upside-down for us. It also ended up being the day that eventually brought us to ABA. After that fateful day, we had to deal with a devastating diagnosis, try to get services, find out that the best services (ABA) were out of reach, and then, figure out a way to move forward.

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Dear Special Needs Parents, Pay attention to these numbers: 21 and 2,000

autism, TAGteach, ABA, positive reinforcement

I’d like to talk about two numbers: 21 and 2,000. We need to be very aware of them.

My son is a teen now, so I attend a lot of Transitioning Youth meetings. The last meeting I went to was incredibly depressing because there were parents there with adult children in their early 20s, who had no access to benefits. They all had 21 or 2,000 problems, or both.

The 21 problem

Age 21 is the age of diagnosis, and these families missed that deadline. For a variety of reasons, these adult children did not have thorough diagnosis paperwork from before the age of 21. It is incredibly difficult to get services for an adult child if a diagnosis was not made before age 21. It is crucial, vital, and absolutely necessary to get full documentation of all disabilities affecting a child before age 21. Make sure every diagnosis is included. Build a solid paperwork trail. Keep track of all the important documents throughout the years: diagnosis, evaluations, reports, IEPs, etc.

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