What is in the Book

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Chaos to Calm describes how Martha Gabler discovered that effective solutions really did exist for the overwhelming behavior problems of her own non-verbal son with severe autism.

Here are some of the things Martha explains in this book:

  • How to observe your child

  • How to use positive reinforcement to shape simple behaviors

  • How to notice even tiny moments of desirable behavior

  • How to break behaviors into tiny pieces

  • How to add simple behaviors together to build complex behaviors

  • How to communicate to the child “Yes!” without using words

  • How to organize the child’s environment to maximize success

  • How to arrange the day’s activities for maximum success

  • How to stop tantrums, aggressive, destructive and self-injurious behaviors

  • How to teach the child to go to bed, stay there and sleep

  • How to manage and teach without force, threats or coercion

When Douglas turned five, Martha realized that she and her family were basically on their own. During the “dreadful early years,” Doug’s behavior worsened and worsened. The family floundered. Daily, if not hourly or even more often, there were screaming, tantrums, self-stimulatory “verbal stimming,” running off, and even violent, self-injurious and destructive actions. The Gablers were exhausted beyond description by lack of community understanding, by lack of help that they could afford, and perhaps worst of all, by night after night of severe sleep deprivation.

A chance reference in an email listserve lead Martha to TAGteach, a teaching system based on the structured delivery of positive reinforcement. TAGteach gave Martha the tools she needed to observe Doug’s behaviors, break them down into manageable pieces, and reinforce his previously-rare positive actions – in fact, positive actions that sometimes lasted only a few seconds in the beginning, but which gave Martha the precious key she needed to unlock major improvements. With a few basic rules and a commitment to practice them, Martha was able to apply step-by-step solutions to Doug’s disruptive behaviors. In TAGteach, Martha found a powerful supplement to other scientifically-based behavioral interventions, many of which required difficult-to-find behavioral experts whose costs would have taxed the family’s financial resources in the extreme

The result? A boy who was once wild and chaotic now has the skills that enable him to be a charming teenager who loves life and enjoys going places.

This book explains, step-by-step, how Martha taught Doug to vocalize appropriately, go on walks, wait in line, go to the grocery store, ride a bike and many more skills that are normally taken for granted, but for a child with autism, they do not come easily if at all. Perhaps the most important skill was how to lie quietly in bed and go to sleep, so the other exhausted members of the Gabler family could themselves get some badly-needed sleep. Martha uses simple language and engaging prose to explain how she achieved all this. The book is in turn heartbreaking, humorous and brutally honest.

Every autism family seeks the light in an ocean of despair. Every autism mom, every autism dad, in fact every person who loves another person with autism, can use TAGteach with ease. This book shows you how.


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